The Warren Court Prize

For essays on matters of Ethics, Justice, or Constitutional Law


$500 First place

$250 Second place

$100 Honorable Mention




The Details


Deadline: Thursday, November 1, 2018, 4pm, Nichols Hall 363


Requirements for Submission

  • Open to all and only Sonoma State University students in good standing
  • Must be on a topic related to ethics, justice, civil liberties, or constitutional law
  • Must be accompanied by a provided Form of Approval for Submission, signed by an SSU instructor: click here for the form
  • May reflect empirical research, textual analysis, or theoretical innovation, but must present an argument
  • Only one submission per student per year. Papers submitted in past Warren Court Prize competitions may not be submitted again.
  • Length between 1500-2500 words, double-spaced
  • Submit three hard copies to the Philosophy Department office, Nichols Hall 363, by the deadline. Remove your name from the paper itself--your name should only be on the Form of Approval for Submission
  • Student agrees, if her or his submission is a winner, to attend a public ceremony honoring the prizewinners and to deliver a 5-minute oral summary of the prizewinning work. This event will be held on Tuesday, November 27, 12-1pm, in Stevenson 1002. If you cannot attend due to a conflicting commitment, please attach a note explaining why to your submission.


Criteria for Excellence

  • Quality of writing
  • Originality
  • Argumentative acumen
  • Creativity
  • Importance for and relevance to matters of constitutional law, justice, or ethics
  • Academic rigor


Earl Warren was the 14th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  The Warren Court is known for its pivotal role in promoting liberty and justice in America, through such landmark cases as Brown v. Board of Education, Griswold v. Connecticut, and Miranda v. Arizona.  Sonoma State University’s Warren Court Prize is awarded annually to the student who best follows in the Warren Court’s tradition by producing an essay of excellent quality on matters of ethics, justice, civil liberties, or constitutional law.


This prize was made possible by a generous donation from Ken Marcus, Ph.D., SSU Professor Emeritus


Fall 2017 Winners

First Place Co-Winner: Kayla Brown

First Place Co-Winner: Elizabeth Cardenas


Fall 2016 Winners

First Place: Jennifer Davis, “Education in Paternalism”

Second Place: Jefferey Peck, “A Re-Evaluation of the Drowning Child”

Honorable Mention: Kayla Brown, “To What Extent May the Law be Paternalistic?”

Honorable Mention: Angelene Drummond, “Utilitarianism: An Almost Applicable System”


Fall 2015 Winners

First Place: Emily Hinton, "Putting an End to Income Inequality"

Second Place: Patricia Tresie Matthies, "Textual Justice"

Honorable Mention: Caitlin McDonough, "Aspirationalism: A Theory of Constitutional Interpretation"

Honorable Mention: D'Marco J. Anthony, "Circumcision"


Fall 2014 Winners

First Place co-winner: Katherine Merrell, “Moral Responsibility and Implicit Bias”

First Place co-winner: Monique Santana, “The Best Theory of Constitutional Interpretation: Aspirationalism”

Honorable Mention: Holli Brown, “Theory of Constitutional Interpretation”

Honorable Mention: Lauren Funaro, “To Die with Dignity”


Spring 2014 Winners

First place: Ricky Frankel, Political Science

Second place: Dan Lyman, Philosophy

Honorable Mention: Adam Brashears, English

Honorable Mention: Katherine Merrell, Philosophy



Image courtesy of Sigurdas, Wikimedia Commons