Friday, November 18, 2016

Inaugural Civics Essay Contest

The democratic principles on which the U.S. government is built affect everything about the way people live. The Federal Bar Association Civics Essay Contest aims to foster the study and understanding of how the U.S. government works; to provide students with a platform on which to build the knowledge of basic civics; and to prepare every student to be an active, responsible citizen.

Topic: What does an impartial Judicial System mean to me?  

  • - Contest available in both Middle School (Grades 6-8) and High School (Grades 9-12) Divisions
  • - Middle School Word Limit: 500; High School Word Limit: 1,000
  • - Winners awarded in Washington, DC in conjunction with the FBA Midyear Meeting on March 18, 2017. 

Middle School Contest Prizes:

1st Place: $1,000

2nd Place: $500

3rd Place: $250
High School Contest Prizes:

1st Place: $2,000

2nd Place: $1,000

3rd Place: $500


This contest is now open! Please email written essay submissions to by January 13, 2017.

  • Oral submissions also accepted! The time limit for recorded submissions is 3 minutes. Make an account with the StoryCorps app and share it with the Federal Bar Association account, or email a link to your recording to by January 13, 2017. 

Nomination of Teachers for Excellence in Civics Education

Do you have a teacher that has gone above and beyond in teaching civics at your school? Nominate him or her to receive the Excellence in Civics Education award! Winners will receive national recognition by the Federal Bar Association, and a chance to accept this award at the FBA Midyear Meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 18, 2017. A nomination form can be found below.
Essays and nominations should be submitted via email to by January 13, 2017.

Contest Chair: Maria Vathis,
Questions? Contact Josh Albertson at or call 571-481-9118

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Nov. 8 Election Means Two New Justices on Ohio Supreme Court

I hope you realized that besides voting for president, you had the chance to choose many others, including judges, through your Election Day ballot. For the first time since 1992, there were two open seats of the seven on the Ohio Supreme Court. Because I turned 70 this year the constitution says I must retire Dec. 31, at the end of my current term. Justice Paul E. Pfeifer is covered by the same rule and will leave the court on Jan. 1. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor did not have an opponent, so she will begin serving her second and final six-year term next year.

Judge Pat DeWine from the First Appellate District Court in Cincinnati will replace Justice Pfeifer in January. But my replacement is still uncertain. At this point, Judge Pat Fischer of Cincinnati is leading his opponent, Judge Jack O’Donnell of Cleveland, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. But because there are many ballots to be counted, we will not know the outcome until the end of the month.

Many other common pleas and appellate judges were elected or re-elected this year. The 2016 campaign season has generated much discussion and I imagine that students, in particular, have learned about our democratic process.

The right to vote when we turn 18 is both a privilege and a responsibility. Here’s hoping that, in deciding how government will operate, people now recognize the power of their votes.

Although it’s sometimes easy to forget to vote for the judges, that choice is very important. Please remember them when you cast your next ballot.
(Image courtesy of Thinkstock)