Law student named finalist in American Constitution Society writing competition

May 24, 2017 | News, UToday, Law
By Kirsten M. Winek

Second-year UT law student Ashley Blas was selected in April as a finalist in the American Constitution Society’s National Student Writing Competition.

Named in honor of Judge Constance Baker Motley, the first African-American women appointed to a federal judgeship, the competition seeks law student writing that takes a progressive view of the U.S. Constitution, law and public policy.


The competition was judged by a panel of well-known law professors and deans, including constitutional law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, as well as federal and state judges. Writing and analytical quality were paramount in the paper judging process.

Dean and Professor Emeritus Daniel J. Steinbock, who served as a law clerk for Motley, said, “This is a notable achievement, and I, especially, am proud of Ashley for doing so well in a competition named for a great person and true hero of the civil rights movement.”

Blas submitted her law review article titled “The Danger of Silence: How the Political Activities Prohibition Negatively Affects Nonprofit Domestic Violence Organizations and the Case for Broader Federal Protection,” which will be published in the spring issue of The University of Toledo Law Review.

She was one of seven finalists, joining law students from Duke University School of Law, University of Virginia School of Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law, Boston College Law School, University of North Carolina School of Law and University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Rebecca Zietlow, the Charles W. Fornoff Professor of Law and Values, was Blas’ law review faculty adviser.

“I am happy, but not surprised, that Ashley has been named a finalist for this award. Her article is well-written and original,” Zietlow said. “It is about an important issue, restrictions on the political speech of 501(c)(3) corporations. Although it is widely recognized that these restrictions impact religious organizations, Ashley points out that these restrictions also limit the speech of politically vulnerable charitable organizations, including those helping victims of domestic violence.” 

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