Law Day 2022 Art & Essay Contest Results

Posted on May 4th, 2022 at 8:43 PM
Law Day 2022 Art & Essay Contest Results

These are the winning entries from the 2022 Law Day Art and Essay Contest:

The United States Constitution was written in 1787, over two centuries ago. This document was important in the nation 235 years ago and is still important today. However, the U.S. Constitution was written for a simpler society. In the 17 and 1800s citizens of America had to work harder to survive. Guns were needed to be able to gather food to feed families, and for protection. People also had to wait weeks for letters and newspapers to broadcast information. Now one can get food in five minutes and communicate in five seconds. The same logic applies to the United States Constitution, it is of course important to ensure stability, but our society has evolved, and the Constitution should evolve along with it.


          The United States Constitution has many important sections to it that are still relevant today. For instance, the US government was specifically designed within the Constitution to avoid tyranny. The Virginia Plan was where the idea for branches and the separation of powers originated within the United States of America. Because of this separation of powers, American citizens were given many rights denied to people in many other countries. People are given the right to their own religion in amendment one, and are given freedoms not listed in amendment nine. Our country has changed in the past 200 years, however, these amendments and our Congress still apply and help us today to keep our nation safe and free.


          Even though the Constitution has many good aspects, it does require some changes that could make modern society better. The second amendment is one of these amendments that was great for a new nation. It gave people the ability to rebel against a tyrannical government. However, why is it necessary now? It once gave citizens a sense of security, but muskets in the 17 and 1800s were large and took time to load. They were used to hunt and collect food for families. Now there are guns that can shoot 400 times a minute. The second amendment is only increasing gun violence. In a Pew Research Center article it states that, “45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S.,” that is 79% of murders and 53% of suicides (Gramlich.) If the 2nd amendment is removed or changed people will not be able to carry weapons freely which will result in less gun-related deaths. Guns have evolved since 1791 when this amendment was passed, therefore the second amendment should evolve to accommodate our changed nation.


          Other people may be apathetic about the Constitution, and they may see no point in trying to change it. They might say that it would be too hard to change to be suitable for society today. However, it has been done before and can be done again. In 1919, the 18th amendment was passed with the prohibition of alcohol. In 1933, this amendment was repealed to better fit the country at the time. Therefore, one can change an amendment that is no longer relevant for the good of the nation. Of course the Constitution is essential to stability for our government, but amendments should be just as important and up to date.


         In an advanced republic, an adapted Constitution is critical to stay strong and safe. The United States Constitution’s quality’s like Congress and natural rights keep our country free. However, changing the second amendment to fit society would make life safer for many Americans. The United States has changed for the better, it is about time that our Constitution does the same.

Alice Ecker, Loyalsock Township Middle School

The First Amendment is important because we have freedom of press. The freedom of press allows us to criticize the government. In some countries people are not allowed to criticize their government. The freedom of the press allows us to see both sides of the situation. In countries that don't have freedom of the press, people only see one side of the story. People have the right to ask the government to fix a problem. With the freedom of the press people can suggest an opinion about something. If we didn't have freedom of the press there would be problems. People wouldn't have a chance to be able to suggest how to fix a problem to the government. Without freedom of the press people might not even know about the problem. Citizens can express their ideas to the government with the freedom of press. The freedom of the press also allows the people of the news to express their feelings about the government or president and tell what the people like and don't like. The news would not be able to do this without the freedom of the press. That is why the First Amendment freedom of the press is so important to us today.

Elliott Drajem, St. John Neuman Academy

 The Constitution is important because we have our own say in government. The 15 Amendment says 'The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude'. In 1828 is when men could vote, and nobody else could vote. Slaves could not vote either because slaves were still denied the right to vote by state constitutions and laws. In 1920 is when women could vote. Women did a lot to get to vote. We remember this because of Women's history month. In 1970 is when 16 year olds could vote but it changed in one year. Congress changed it to 18 because that is when 18 year olds can join the nation's military. It is important today because a lot of people would like to have their own say in government. Also, we would want to make some of the decisions too.

Kaydance Meixel, St. John Neuman Academy

Relying on an Imperfect Document for a More Perfect Union

     On a brutally hot summer day in Philadelphia, a group of men concurred on a document that would provide a framework of government for years to come. With their signatures at the bottom of the page, our Constitution was put into effect in 1787. When the framers created this document, they were aware that it was not perfect in any regard. Much of this imperfection lay with the founders themselves: written only by men, some of whom owned human beings, and most believed that women should have no role in public affairs. They only understood our nation-to-be as a small country along the eastern seaboard with no modern manufacturing or communication. Benjamin Franklin stated, “When you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected?”

     Many see this acknowledgment of imperfection as the most important part of this foundational document. In the framer’s wisdom, they provided for the ability to change a document of such importance that it would allow it to adapt to new problems that arose. This forethought, hundreds of years ago, was revolutionary and has allowed our nation to grow and prosper.

     But while the idea of being able to amend the Constitution had the right intentions, in practice, it is not very plausible. Article 5 provides for amendments through either a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress and ratification of three-fourths of the states or a national constitutional convention called by two-thirds of the state legislatures. These are extremely difficult to accomplish and time consuming to manage. Chris Edelson, American University professor, in an article for the American Constitution Society stated, “Our inability to mitigate major problems in our country is fundamentally the result of one central problem, a failed constitutional system that has left the United States unable to respond to these national challenges.”

     Even when one looks at current ideas for Constitutional amendments, they don’t seem to help solve the most critical issues our nation faces. Some are proposed to address issues we assume are already guaranteed, like an amendment to guarantee everyone the right to vote or finally passing the Equal Rights Amendment. Many ideas for amendments only alter previous amendments such as repealing the 17th Amendment (the electoral college) or ending income tax by repealing the 16th or removing “unreasonable” to describe illegal searches in the 4th Amendment. Some look to address our national problems by managing how long our government officials can serve such as removing presidential term limits or adding term limits for Congress or doing away with lifetime appointments for Supreme Court justices. Only a few directly address issues we currently see in practice such as requiring a balanced budget or regulating campaign finance.

     There are those that hold the view that the Constitution should be scrapped, and that we should start from fresh. And they make compelling arguments. An article in Smithsonian Magazine summarized a book by Georgetown law professor Louis Michael Seidman which proposed that, “adherence to the constitution is both misguided and long out of date.” Edelson argues that in its original form, the Constitution did not fully provide for what is now called a liberal democracy; a system with free and fair elections, individual rights, limits on the power of the majority as well as government officials, and the rule of law. He believes our Constitution’s failure to do what we reasonably expect it to do helps explain our inability to address some of the most significant issues we face in our society (economic distress, cyber attacks against the government and industry, racial injustice, a climate crisis, etc.).

     After reading several articles about these issues and analyzing the arguments, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Constitution is not the problem and one or two Amendments won’t make it significantly better. The Constitution is simply a document, a tool, for people to use or abuse. The problem I see is with the government officials that we have put in place to lead our country. No amount of Amendments will force them to work for the betterment of our nation.

     In my opinion, we should be electing officials who will approach their work the same way our imperfect forefathers did: work together, even in the most difficult of circumstances, and make compromises for the betterment of our country. And in all its imperfections, this is exactly what our Constitution provides for.

     I close with another quote from Benjamin Franklin which was made after completion of the Constitution. “I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such, because I think a central government is necessary for us… I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution.”

Emma Strickland, Loyalsock High School

        In North Korea, speaking out against government ideas would sentence you to a work camp. This is the most limited country in the world, and it has no freedoms; with most people being dirt poor. In contrast, America has almost every freedom to exist. The first ten amendments drastically express our freedoms which are very valuable. The constitution is one of the most incredible documents ever written, and is even better because it can be changed to fit into American lives today. The constitution is important to us today because it gives us freedoms, doesn’t allow abuse of power, and though amendments 2 and 21 are flawed for this time in America; they can be changed to fit into our lives today.

        Amendment 2 doesn’t fit in our society today, and should be altered. The amendment is as follows, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” I fully support the idea of being able to own a firearm for protection, the only issue is if the wrong person obtains a weapon the nation will deteriorate. From the article, a section states, “Every year, more than 3,500 children and teens are shot and killed and 15,000 more are shot and injured. An estimated 3 million children in the US are exposed to shootings per year. Children exposed to violence, crime, and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder; fail or have difficulties in school; and engage in criminal activity.” This evidence shows that firearms are destroying our nation. Children exposed to this violence will spiral, and ultimately fail. Firearms are ruining the future generation that will be active in this country, and will forever decimate many lives. Amendment 2 shall be changed, so it is harder to obtain a firearm, and the weapon shall be looked over until the possessor is proven worthy.

          Similar to Amendments 2, Amendment 21 is also invalid in this era of America. Section 1 of Amendment 21 is as follows, “The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.” Section 1 of Amendment 18 states, “After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.” As previously stated above, I am not against the idea of alcohol, but when it is in the possession of the wrong person, it is very harmful. Alcohol is very dangerous, and this is proven everyday. Stated from the passage states, “Every day in the United States, about 30 people lose their lives in a car accident involving alcohol and about 6 people die from alcohol poisoning. In just 4 years from 2006 to 2010, alcohol killed 88,000 Americans, costing the country 2.5 million years of potential human life. Moreover, the extreme consequences of alcohol abuse are not diminishing. From 2007 to 2017, the number of alcohol-related deaths in the United States increased by 35%.” This evidence depicts that alcohol is ruining this nation. It is killing 30 people a day, which is 10,950 people a year. It also causes the nation unreasonable years of human life. This nation is declining, and it’s all because some people cannot be trusted. Amendment 21 should be changed so that alcohol is harder to obtain, and if convicted of abuse of alcohol, it shall be prohibited from that person for a reasonable amount of time. Although these two amendments should be changed, the constitution gives us an abundant amount of freedoms that other countries don’t have.

          The American Constitution is important to us today because it controls the power of our government. The constitution also gives us multiple freedoms that other countries do not have. According to the article states, “If you're not violating any laws about public decency or wearing clothing intended to incite violence, you're free to choose the clothes that look and feel good to you. In countries like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Sudan, and France, wearing the wrong thing can be a punishable offense.” This evidence shows that America gives freedoms that other countries don’t have. The constitution gives us this right, and that’s why it’s so important. We wouldn’t be able to freely express ourselves in other countries. Other freedoms that America has that other countries don’t are: The right to a fair trial (Amendment 7) which is not permitted in South Africa, Ending a relationship which isn’t allowed in Malta or the Philippines, and the freedom to access information in which China limits searches, and Russia takes down anything bashing the government. In Article 2 Section 1 of the constitution, the power of the president and vice president is limited. It states, “He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected.” This evidence limits the opportunity of a monarchy, and provides no fear of being overruled. This reason is the most important part of our constitution, as it basically looks out for our entire nation.

          Ultimately, the second and twenty-first Amendments should be changed because they are not fit for this day of America. The constitution includes freedom, and doesn’t allow one person to absorb too much power, thus making it important. Thousands of people are losing their lives to gun violence and alcohol, and that is not a good representation of our nation. The presidential power is limited, eliminating the idea of being taken over. We all have free choice; it’s how you exercise that freedom that matters.

Adam Ghayyada, Loyalsock Middle School

Adam Ghayyada, Loyalsock Middle School

Quinn McLaughlin, Home Schooled

Quinn McLaughlin, Home Schooled

Kate McLaughlin, Home Schooled

Who am I to you?

There are stories from long ago
Some that you and I may know
Wars and deaths
That was the price they paid
For me
But why all that for me
Do you even know what I mean?

I can be cryptic and hard to understand
But once you get to know me I lay down the land
I show how the government can run
I tell what can and cannot be done
Like a mother telling her son

You are human and you have rights
I protect those rights so you people don’t fight
I am your soldier, your guardian, and keeper
I am here for your rights
I hold my head up high and stand my ground
In Front of those who try and rip us down

I give you freedom, life, and liberty
I keep you closed in a safe gate
From those who want to strip them away
I keep you from the greed and power some yearn for
I keep things balanced and it’s better for everyone

I hold America together
Like I’m it’s roots
It’s nails and screws
Keeping it in one piece
Cause together we are better

But do people really know me?
What I mean?
How I work?
Or why I’m here?
Why am I important to you?
Do you learn me in school?

Or do they skip over me
Leave it to other people to know fully
I truly hope not
For I am important to everyone

I am for you… America
I am your constitution

Sadie Magill, Loyalsock Middle School

The Solution

In order to form a more perfect union
We must find the value in,
Our ears have become deaf, and our eyes cannot see
There is no constitutional difference between you and me
Perhaps it is not the document
Perhaps it is that fact that with every opinion voiced there is an argument
We have become polarized in our beliefs
The left against the right, in a fight with no surrender
But this is the polarization that could cause the end of our nation
The constitution preaches liberty
Yet we silence our opponents and in doing so tolerate a level of hypocrisy
The constitution is to be a guideline
To protect our rights
It serves as the foundation of our nation
But now I must draw the line
No amendment can stop this downward spiral
It is the people who must go the extra mile
It must become time to see that it is okay for people to disagree
But to survive we must do so respectfully
The first amendment gives us the right to use our voice
And as individuals we must honor that choice
This will bring us out of the cave we are in
And then push us towards a more perfect union

Ella Wilson, Williamsport High School