The Warren Court Prize

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


$500 First place

$250 Second place

$100 Honorable Mention



Congratulations to the Fall 2014 winners!

First Place co-winner ($375): Katherine Merrell, “Moral Responsibility and Implicit Bias”
First Place co-winner ($375): Monique Santana, “The Best Theory of Constitutional Interpretation: Aspirationalism”
Honorable Mention ($100): Holli Brown, “Theory of Constitutional Interpretation”
Honorable Mention ($100): Lauren Funaro, “To Die with Dignity”


You can join in our celebration of the winners during a public recognition ceremony, Dec. 2, 12-12:50, Stevenson 1002.


The Details


Deadline for Submissions: November 6, 2014, 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, or constitutional law
  • Must be accompanied by a provided Form of Approval for Submission, signed by an SSU instructor (available in Nichols Hall 363 or click here)
  • May reflect empirical research, textual analysis, or theoretical innovation, but must present an argument
  • Only one submission per student. 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 an end-of-year public ceremony honoring the prizewinners and to deliver a short oral summary of the prizewinning work. This event will be held Tuesday, December 2, 12-12:50, in Stevenson 1002.


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


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