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2022 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ….”

But how does this constitutional right apply to students?

More than 50 years ago, the United States Supreme Court said that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression at the schoolhouse gate” – but it also has said that students’ rights are not the same as “rights of adults in other settings.” Decades later, the internet and social media allow students to express themselves in many different ways in addition to banners and symbolic clothing, with greater reach and impact than in the past.

The 2022 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest asks students to address:  What are students’ free speech rights – and responsibilities – on and off campus?

Participants are asked to consider what rights the First Amendment provides to students engaging in free speech – both inside and outside of school. Participants should also consider the responsibilities, if any, that students, schools, or the government have with respect to speech by students, including whether it may cause harm to others.

Individual students can express their thoughts and ideas in an essay of between 500 and 1,000 words. Individuals or teams of up to three students can produce a 3-5 minute video on the theme. A student may submit both an essay and a video, but only one of each.

The essay or video should 1) demonstrate an understanding of the history and development of student free speech rights and responsibilities under the First Amendment; and 2) address the role of students, schools and the courts in considering and applying these rights and responsibilities.

The 2022 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest is open to high school students in nine western states and two Pacific island jurisdictions. Students from public, private, and parochial and charter schools and home-schooled students of equivalent grade status may enter.

The United States District Court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon will conduct a local contest to select finalists for the circuit-wide competition. To enter the local contest, students must reside in the State of Oregon. In addition to advancement to the circuit contest, local winners will receive cash prizes and be invited to an award presentation.  Entries will be accepted beginning January 17, 2022 with the final deadline for entries being March 18, 2022.

For more information on contest rules, see the attached flyer or visit the Ninth Circuit Civics Contest website.

For questions regarding the district contest, please contact:  Esther Dunn-Fellows (503) 326-8041 /