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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF’s 2023 law student essay contest winners

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the three winners of the Diane and Stephen Uhl Memorial Essay Competition for Law Students.

FFRF paid out a total of $9,000 to the winners of this year’s contest.

The winning essay is printed below, and the second- and third-place essays are posted online at

Law school students were asked to write on the topic of how laws banning or restricting abortion should be invalidated based on the religious liberty interests of a potential plaintiff.

For ease of reading, the essays (in print and online) do not include the footnotes and citations that were included in the authors’ submissions. Grading and selecting of the winners were done by the FFRF Legal Team.

Winners are listed below and include the law school they are attending and the award amount.

First place: Kalyn Mizelle McDaniel, University of Texas School of Law, $4,000.

Second place: Laura M. Eickholt, Ohio Northern University Law School, $3,000.

Third place: Io Jones,  University of Virginia School of Law,

FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994 and grad students since 2010. The law school contest began in 2019.

Kalyn Mizelle McDaniel