New Castle News

Neshannock

May 7, 2013

Law Day essay winners announced

NEW CASTLE — Matthew Barnes and Hannah Branscome are the winners of the Lawrence County Law Day Essay Contest.

Each received a $1,500 scholarship check.

Matthew, of Lincoln High School in Ellwood City, is the son of Dr. Richard and Lisa Barnes. He plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh and major in political science and history.

Hannah, of Neshannock High School, is the daughter of Kim and Bob Branscome. She plans to attend Westminster College and major in secondary English education.

Both read their winning essay at the Lawrence County Law Day program last week.

Attorney John W. Flannery, Law Day chairman, said each year, high school seniors are invited to consider a legal issue before the U.S. Supreme Court as the topic of their essay.

The legal issue this year was whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the law, as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their state.

Section 3 defines the term “marriage” for all purposes under federal law, including the provision of federal benefits as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

It also defines the term “spouse” as “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

There were 15 essays submitted, Flannery said, adding he appreciates the efforts shown by the students. Both winning essays agreed that the act discriminates against the rights of American citizens.

This is the 29th year of the contest, Flannery noted, adding that $66,500 has been awarded in scholarship money to graduating seniors.

The Law Day program was presided over by Lawrence County’s four judges.

President Judge Dominick Motto said the Law Day theme this year, established by the American Bar Association, is “Realizing the Dream of Equality for All.”

He also pointed out this year is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which marked the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States.

However, he noted, women and minorities still face discrimination and although slavery has been ended, human trafficking exists in the United States and around the world.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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