Constance Baker Motley National Student Writing Competition


Constance Baker Motley
Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade.”
Constance Baker Motley

The American Constitution Society (ACS) and the University of Pennsylvania Law School ACS Chapter host an annual national student writing competition in honor of Constance Baker Motley’s legacy. As a civil rights attorney, first woman elected President of the Borough of Manhattan, and the first African-American woman appointed to the federal bench, Motley’s life-long commitment to equality for all aligns with ACS’s mission to ensure that law is a force to improve the lives of all people.


ACS welcomes all student papers furthering and promoting a progressive vision of the Constitution, law, and public policy. Entrants are encouraged to view this topic broadly, and we welcome submissions on a variety of substantive areas. Examples of possible topics include: census report, civil legal aid, civil liberties, constitutional convention, consumer rights, criminal justice, disability rights, freedom of speech, immigration, indigent defense, money in politics (including judicial elections), labor law, LGBTQ+ rights, privacy, protection of health, safety, and the environment, racial equality, religion, role of state attorneys general, second amendment and guns, separation of powers and federalism, women’s reproductive rights and reproductive freedom, voting and political process, and whistleblower protection.

Click here for more information about the Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition on Regulatory and Administrative Law.

Competition Details

Applications for the 2022 Constance Baker Motley Writing Competition will open in Fall 2021.

2021 Winners

Congratulations to the following winners of 2021 Constance Baker Motley National Student Writing Competition.  Special recognition will be given to the winners at the 2021 ACS National Convention.


  • Patrick Berning-O’Neill (’21), University of Chicago Law School, A Reasonably Comparable Evil: Expanding Intersectional Claims Under Title VII Using Existing Precedent.


  • Paige Britton (’22), Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, The Political Morality of Judicial Rhetoric: Bostock v. Clayton County.
  • Megan Hauptman (’21), Yale Law School, Release as Remedy: The Availability of Habeas Corpus for Conditions-of-Confinement Challenges.


  • Andrew Barron (’21), UC Berkeley School of Law, Facial Discrimination: A Comparative Equality Approach to Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology
  • Danny Li (’22), Yale Law School, The First Amendment Weaponized: When Guns Become Public Discourse
  • Damonta Morgan (’22), Columbia Law School, Who Are to Be Our Governors: The Right of Access to Police ID
  • Chandler Stepan (’22), Brigham Young University Law School, Impacts of Redlining and Restrictive Zoning on Housing in Salt Lake City and Creating an Equitable Future

ACS thanks Dylan O’Connor and the University of Pennsylvania Law School ACS Student Chapter for overseeing the judge selection and paper review process.

ACS is grateful to the judging committee for this year’s competition, which included:

  • Hon. Anita Earls, Associate Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court
  • Hon. James Graves, U.S. Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • Elizabeth D. Katz, Associate Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law
  • Saira Mohamed, Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Kermit Roosevelt, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Past Competitions

For past competition winners, click here.