PLF Law Student Writing Competition 2016

Pacific Legal Foundation is pleased to announce its Law Student Writing Competition. The contest is open to law students in United States. PJA generates scholarship to support constitutional litigation and promotes understanding of our civic institutions among the people. PJA also helps promote the understanding of freedom among citizens devoted to protecting the Constitution and preserving the blessings of liberty. Three winners will be chosen and they will get $5,000, $3000, $1000 award respectively.

Pacific Legal Foundation was founded in Sacramento as America’s first freedom-based public interest legal organization. The mission of PLF is to be the nation’s leading legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, free enterprise, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts nationwide.


Pacific Legal Foundation’s Law Student Writing Competition 2016 is open to students who are currently enrolled full- or part-time in a law school in the United States.

How to Apply:

  • Does the “waters of the United States” rule recently proposed by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers accurately describe the reach of Congress’s commerce power? If so, explain why. If not, explain how a judge should determine the outer boundary of Congress’s power.
  • In Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997), the Supreme Court reaffirmed Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co., 325 U.S. 410 (1945), for its proposition that judges must defer to an agency interpretation of its own ambiguous regulation unless that interpretation is plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation. What are the best arguments against that rule?
  • How should courts draw the line between regulating professional conduct (typically subject to rational basis review under the Fourteenth Amendment) and free speech protected by the First Amendment?
  • Should the Supreme Court reconsider Williamson County’s holding that one may not present a takings claim for just compensation in federal court unless on has first litigated the matter in state court? Why or why not?

Essay Guidelines:

  • The essay must be typed in Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced. Citations should be included in footnotes, and the essay may include headings and subheadings.
  • There is no page limit for entries, although a word count of 3,000 to 5,000 words is suggested.

Submitting Details:

Submissions must be received by 5:00 p.m. (PST) on January 13, 2017, and must be submitted by email, in both Microsoft Word and PDF formats.

Award Amount:

  • The first place winner, second place winner and the third place winner will receive a $5,000, $3000, $1000 award respectively.
  • The winner will also be recognized at the Annual Pacific Legal Foundation Gala. PLF will pay for the winner’s reasonable travel costs to attend the gala and will assist with travel arrangements.

Application Deadline:

The essay must be received by 5:00 p.m. (PST) on January 13, 2017.

Link for More Information:

Contact Information:

You can direct any questions about the contest to or call (425) 576-0484.

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