ESSAY

Subject: Consider and describe the relevance of the Japanese internment today as our nation combats terrorism.

 

Students are asked to relate the legal history of the Japanese internment to the government’s current efforts to protect against terrorist attacks in the United States. The focus is on the constitutional conflicts that can arise when national security and individual rights are both at stake. Students are advised to concentrate primarily on the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in Hirabayashi v. United States, 1943, Korematsu v. United States, 1944, and Ex parte Mitsuye Endo, 1944. Students should demonstrate an understanding of the cases, the nature of the constitutional conflicts involved, and the legal reasoning for the court’s decisions. Students may also consider cultural and societal influences on governmental policy making, both at the time of the internment and today.

 

Length and Format: Essays should be between 500 and 1,000 words. While not required, proper use of footnotes and bibliographies will be credited during judging. Footnotes and bibliographies will not be included in the word count. Essays must be submitted electronically to this website as Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat documents. When entering the contest, you will be provided instructions for uploading your document.

VIDEO

Subject: Consider and describe the relevance of the Japanese internment today as our nation combats terrorism.

 

Students are asked to relate the legal history of the Japanese internment to the government’s current efforts to protect against terrorist attacks in the U.S. The focus is on the constitutional conflicts that can arise when national security and individual rights are both at stake. Students are advised to concentrate primarily on the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in Hirabayashi v. United States,1943, Korematsu v. United States, 1944, and Ex parte Mitsuye Endo, 1944. Students should demonstrate an understanding of the cases, the nature of the constitutional conflicts involved, and the legal reasoning for the court’s decisions. Students may also consider cultural and societal influences on governmental policy making, both at the time of the internment and today.

 

Length and Format: The video should be from 3 to 5 minutes long (not including end credits). Submit as MOV, MPEG4, MPEG2, MPEG, AVI or WMV files. Resolutions of 720x486 pixels to 1920x1080 pixels are acceptable. Files may not exceed 1GB in size. Videos should be compressed using the H.264 codec.  Videos must be submitted to this website.  When entering the contest, you will be provided with instructions for uploading your video file.

Past contest winners (ESSAY)

http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/civicscontest/2016_Civics_Contest_Booklet.pdf

Past Contest winners (VIDEO)

https://civicscontest.wixsite.com/civicscontest/2016-video-entries

Resources

https://civicscontest.wixsite.com/civicscontest/resources

Mrs. Mikkelsen’s Contest Participation Form (so that we know if you’re doing an essay, a video, or both)

http://bit.ly/2lUEMDF

Google Classroom Code (Please join the class so that we can share information with each other.)

7ori4f

 Le Rêve Américain. Lucile Vigouroux La Jolla, California (First Place 2015 Essay Contest)

Prompt: What the American Dream means to me

Le Rêve Américain. The American Dream. As far as I can remember, the simple pronunciation of this name has always been enough to stir feelings of excitement, ambition and admiration in my family. Even when it was just that: a dream. For a modest French family like mine, the United States of America seemed quite rightfully like the other end of the world, and the accuracy of this statement extends beyond its literal meaning of physical distance: American culture as we knew it seemed fictional and our idea of American people relied heavily on the stereotypical belief that all Americans are friendly surfers who drive pick-up trucks. The American Dream was only something we could afford to admire and fantasize about; actually fulfilling it never was an idea we seriously considered.

Yet, despite the improbability that his family would ever set foot on American soil, my father was motivated by this empowering slogan: “No matter who you are, if you have a dream and are willing to work hard at it, in America everything is possible”. It spurred him to sell his business and pursue a race car driving career that would eventually make us lucky enough to fill four of the 675,000 spots reserved annually for permanent immigrants in the United States. The American government issued us Permanent Resident Cards, Preference Category 1 — we liked to call them nos clés du monde de l’opportunité (“our Keys to the Land of Opportunity”).

Bursting with excitement and curiosity, we began our pursuit of this famous “American Dream” February 16, 2008. Today, January 21, 2015, we were granted American citizenship.

Opening our naturalization ceremony at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Court was President Obama’s recorded voice repeating these inspiringly powerful words: “In America, everything is possible”. For the first time, I was able to read the Constitution’s introductory sentence “We, the People of the United States” without feeling like an intruder. These “People of the United States” have accepted to consider me a member of their honorable nation, to treat me as their equal. To me, this inestimable honor is the American Dream.

Consequently, among all amendments, the one that I am most thankful for is the fourteenth: its first section guarantees that natural birth and naturalization both ensure equal rights and equal protection of the law: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States […] No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” As long as this amendment is enforced, I will not be denied the right to vote in elections for public officials or to apply for competitive service jobs simply because of my national origin.

Furthermore, I can safely rely on the fact that if I am ever convicted of a crime or tort, impartial justice will be conducted and neither prejudice nor personal opinion of French people will play a role in my sentencing. In fact, independent of the defendant’s origin, the American trial system is infinitely more fair by nature than that of the French. While in France the fate of the defendant, regardless of the severity of the offense, is in the hands of a single judge — whose judgment may or may not be entirely objective — in the United States twelve jurors confer to agree on the verdict. Twelve ordinary men and women who are not affiliated with the government and have nothing to lose by exercising fair reasoning. Yes; some are racist, sexist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, homophobic; that is inevitable, but the combined judgment of such diverse people considerably reduces the risk that unfounded personal judgment influences objective legal judgment. This democratic procedure may seem banal to the average American, but I have learned not to take it for granted. The American Dream is not perfect. We must be careful not to idealize it; just like any other dream, system, market, or organization, it has its shortcomings and imperfections, its injustices and deceptions. I myself have endured my share fair of discrimination. Yet becoming a resident and citizen of “The Land of Opportunity” has led to opportunities that I will never cease to be grateful for.