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Ninth Circuit Announces Civics Contest Finalists for 2021 Competition

Thursday, May 27, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO – Preliminary judging of the essay and video entries has been completed in the 2021 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest for high school students in the western United States, the U.S. Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Over 700 students entered the contest despite challenges they confronted from transitioning to return to school to continuing their participation in online distance learning due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

“The federal courts of the Ninth Circuit are steadfast in their commitment to civics education, reaching as many students as possible in the Western United States and in the U.S. Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Many judges, administrators, court staff and members of the bar worked together to organize, promote, administer and judge the contest,” said U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of San Diego, chair of the Ninth Circuit’s Public Information and Community Outreach (PICO) Committee. “We acknowledge the students for their work and dedication to compete in the contest that hopefully gave them the opportunity to learn more about our nation’s legal system and constitutional democracy,” she added.

This year’s contest focused on important events in American history and global events that have challenged us to find a balance between inalienable rights and collective responsibilities to each other. Students were asked, “How should we as a society strike the appropriate balance within the framework of our Constitution between safeguarding our rights and fulfilling our responsibilities to each other?”

The contest was open to young people in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, the U.S. Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Students in grades 9-12 in public, private, parochial, charter schools and home-schooled students of equivalent grade status were invited to participate.

All 15 districts in the Ninth Circuit held local contests with district winners advancing to the circuit level for the final round of the circuit-wide competition. In all, 45 essays and 31 videos were selected to advance to the next round for consideration by judges, attorneys, court executives, court and library staff and the PICO Committee. PICO is responsible for organizingand sponsoring the contest together with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the federal district and bankruptcy courts under its jurisdiction.

In addition to cash prizes, previous first-place winners of the essay and video contest were invited to the annual Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference held in July. However, since the conference was cancelled for 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, cash awards were increased. A total of $11,400 in cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in both the essay and video competitions. The winners will receive – $3,000 for first place, $1,700 for second place and $1,000 for third place along with a commemorative prize. If the winners of the video portion of the competition are part of a team, then they will split the total cash prize. Winners will be announced on the civics contest website in late June. 

The Ninth Circuit includes the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, the U.S. Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Please see the attachment for a complete list of contest finalists.