August 11, 2020


The Federalist Society’s Article I Initiative is focused on the critical issue of why the modern Congress is not functioning as the most powerful branch as envisioned by the Framers. In order to help engage new thought and discussion about the proper role of the Congress, the Initiative has just launched its fourth annual writing contest aimed at younger* thinkers.


Topic: Judicial Interpretation and the Erosion of Legislative Power

In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court was asked to consider whether an employer who fires an individual for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress has proposed several times, but not yet passed, amendments to extend protections to these individuals under the Act. In Bostock, the Court ruled that an employer does in fact violate the Act when he or she fires someone for being gay or transgender. Some critics of the decision question whether this was within the Court’s power to determine.

The Bostock decision once again turned the public’s attention to the Constitutional separation of powers which vests legislative, executive, and judicial powers in three discrete branches. The Constitution delegates lawmaking authority to the Legislative Branch, and the judiciary has historically been tasked with the interpretation of those laws. Over the years, broadly written statutes from Congress have become commonplace and various forms of statutory interpretation have arisen out of necessity to determine the precise meaning of vague statutory text.

In observing this modern trend in lawmaking and the resulting actions by the Court to navigate differing forms of statutory interpretation, some lament the erosion of boundaries between the two branches and an increasing gray area between the two branches’ constitutionally prescribed roles. Has the judiciary usurped too much of Congress’s legislative power? If so, how can Congress show greater ambition for their own institution and work against these trends? What innovations can the legislative branch create to claw back its legislative prerogative?

Prizes: The first-place winner will receive free registration, accommodations, and travel to the Federalist Society’s 2021 Student Symposium and a $7,000 cash prize.  A runner-up $2,000 cash prize and a $1,000 honorable mention prize will also be awarded.

Click here for the entry form with the full list of rules.

*Participants must be age 40 or under. Click here to learn more about contest eligibility and the rules.

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