FCBA Essay Contest Stronger Than Ever

Published: April 27, 2020

The FCBA’s Fifth Annual Essay Contest has received 41 entries from high school students across the Northern District. High schools represented this year include Guilderland High School in Albany County, South Glens Falls Senior High School in Saratoga County, Fayetteville-Manlius and Jamesville-DeWitt High Schools in Onondaga County, and Tyburn Academy in Cayuga County.

Entries have been made in each of the contest’s four newly created categories: 9 entries in the essay category, 29 entries in the poems/short stories category, 2 entries in the graphic art category, and 1 entry in the video-performance category. As in prior years, all entries address the origin of some aspect of the U.S. Constitution. This year’s entries cover an array of subjects:

  1. Why was Philadelphia chosen as the site of the Constitutional Convention, and what were the benefits and drawbacks of that choice?
  2. Why were deliberations kept confidential during the convention, and how might things have turned out differently if they hadn’t been?
  3. How did the framers use the ideas of separation-of-powers and checks-and-balances and why?
  4. Why did certain framers call for a Bill of Rights and why did others initially oppose it?
  5. How does the Declaration of Independence relate to the Constitution?
  6. How were senators originally chosen and why, and how and why was this process changed?
  7. Was changing to the popular election of senators through the 17th Amendment good or bad, and why?
  8. Why did the framers decide to have a Senate at all (i.e., an upper legislative chamber composed of individuals chosen by state legislatures, as opposed to a unicameral legislature)?
  9. Why did the framers agree upon two senators (as opposed to one or three) from each state?
  10. Why did the framers create an electoral college?
  11. To what extent did the Declaration of Independence and Constitution make both necessary and possible the 13th Amendment and/or 19th Amendment?
  12. What roles did women play, and/or what impact did they have, during the Constitutional Convention and/or ratification of the Constitution (e.g., Martha Washington, Dolly Madison, Elizabeth Hamilton, etc.)?

Entries in the essay category will be evaluated by Chief U.S. District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby, U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino, and U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes. Entries in the video, art and poems/short stories categories will evaluated by Judge Sannes, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thérèse Wiley Dancks and U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart. Entries will be evaluated based on originality, clarity, historical accuracy, thoroughness and persuasiveness. All entries have been redacted to keep the entrant’s identity anonymous to the judges.

Prize winners will be announced by June 15, 2020. A total of $4,500 in monetary prizes will be awarded for entrants winning first place, second place, third place and honorable mention in each category. More details about the contest can be found at www.constitutionalscholars.org.