The Northern Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court is continuing the tradition of its judge, Hon. Warren C. Caswell, in sponsoring a Law Day essay contest for local area students.

This year is the 15th consecutive year of the contest. This year’s topic centers on the “2020 Law Day Theme Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: the 19th Amendment at 100.” This year, the question focused on the right to vote and how that right has been, restricted and freed, by the U.S. Constitution throughout history. Specifically, students are asked: What restrictions to voting would you eliminate, or impose, through the Constitution, why?

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution removed sex as a permissible restriction on voting rights, thus granting the vote to women. The 19th Amendment is one of a series of Amendments, eight in all, affecting who can vote or how votes are counted and distributed. There are only 27 Amendments to the Constitution, making voting the most discussed topic of the document. The Constitution has already removed voting bans due to race (15th), sex (19th), failure to pay taxes (24th), or age (26th). Other Amendments have redistributed vote counting for President and Vice President (12th), made Senators subject to direct election (17th), limited the number of times a person can serve as president (22nd), and added votes to the Electoral College for previously unrepresented voters (23rd). All of these amendments have affected who can vote, for whom they can vote, and/or how those votes would be counted. The restriction, or freeing, of the vote in the United States has been a deeply contested and dividing topic since the founding of the Republic.

The 19th Amendment turns 100 years old in August, now is a good time to reflect on the history of the vote in the United States. This year, we are asking students: What restrictions to voting would you eliminate, or impose, through the Constitution, why?

A complete answer will provide reasons why the essayist’s chosen position aligns with the principles of the Constitution. First prize is a $350 cash scholarship. All high-school aged students residing in Elbert, Franklin, Hart, Madison and Oglethorpe Counties are eligible as well as any similarly aged student currently in the care of the Northern Circuit Juvenile Court, regardless of where they are placed. Entries must be postmarked by April 15, 2020 and winners will be announced on Law Day, May 1. Full details, contest rules, and background information are available on the Internet at www.warrencaswelllaw.com

Law Day was first proclaimed by President Eisenhower in 1958 and is a day of national dedication to the principle of government under law. Each year the American Bar Association, and a multitude of state and local bar associations, hold events and celebrations honoring law day to educate the public about the role of law in our society.

The Annual Law Day Essay Contest is designed to encourage young people to think about the role of law in society and how law affects their everyday lives, even at a young age. Local Juvenile Court Judge Warren Caswell has sponsored the contest each year since opening his practice in Madison County. According to Judge Caswell “Critical thinking and the ability to advocate a controversial position in writing are paramount for success in today’s world; this contest will provide students an opportunity to practice these crucial skills while reflecting how our laws meet, or fall short, of their own expectations.”

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