A Constitutional Speech Contest
The purpose of The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program is to develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the Constitution of the United States among high school students. Other objectives of the contest include the development of leadership qualities, the ability to think and speak clearly and intelligently, and the preparation for acceptance of the duties and responsibilities, rights, and privileges of American citizenship.
2019 - 2020 District and Area Contest Dates
This will be updated later this fall.
|District||Date||Time||Contact Info||Location Info|
|1:00 PM – 4:00 PM||Donald Swan
|Bellizzi-Macrae American Legion Post #659
1813 SE 1st Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
|Area||Date||Time||Contact Info||Location Info|
(Districts: 1, 5 & 6)
*Bold and underline indicates host district.
(Districts: 2, 3 & 4)
*Bold and underline indicates host district.
(Districts: 7, 8 & 9)
*Bold and underline indicates host district.
Eligible participants in the contest shall be citizens of or lawful permanent residents of the United States.
All contestants must be bona fide students herein described as any student under the age of 20 years on the date of the national contest who is presently enrolled in a high school or junior high school (public, parochial, military, private or homeschool), commencing with grade 9 and terminating with grade 12. Students must be enrolled in high school or junior high school during the time of participation at any level of the contest.
High school students that graduate early during the school year are eligible to compete if they are not enrolled in a college, university, trade school or other institution of higher learning at the time of the department finals contest.
Contestants must either be legally domiciled within or attend an educational institution within the department (state) where they enter the competition. Contestants can enter the competition in only one department.
The three finalists of the national contest will be ineligible for further participation at any level.
Awards and Scholarships
Post, County, and District Levels: Varies by location
- $50 awarded by The American Legion of Iowa for expenses;
- $200 Scholarship awarded to each contestant who participates at the Area level but does not advance to Department-level competition.
Department (State) Contest: Matching scholarships provided by The American Legion of Iowa and The American Legion of Iowa Foundation:
The 2020 National Finals are April 17-19 in Indianapolis, at the Wyndham Indianapolis West Hotel, 2544 Executive Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana 46241, (317) 248-2481. Quarterfinal and semifinal contests are scheduled for Saturday, April 18, with the finals scheduled for Sunday, April 19.
All contestants and chaperones will arrive on the Friday of the contest weekend. All contestants and chaperones will stay at the official contest hotel.
A mandatory pre-contest orientation session for all contestants will take place on the Friday evening of the contest weekend. A banquet honoring all contestants will be Sunday afternoon, following the national championship contest. All contestants and chaperones will depart for home later that afternoon.
Final Round of the National Contest:
1st Place: $18,000
2nd Place: $16,000
3rd Place: $14,000
The prepared oration must be on some aspect of the Constitution of the United States with emphasis on the duties and obligations of a citizen to our government. The same subject and oration will be used at all levels of the contest.
The prepared oration must be the original effort of each contestant and must not take up less than eight minutes or more than 10 minutes for delivery.
Contestants may have in their possession a copy of their prepared oration in the first holding room. The copy may be in electronic or paper form. They may consult the copy of their prepared oration until they exit the holding room in order to begin the contest, at which time the copy of the prepared oration will be surrendered to the contest official who is monitoring the first holding room.
The assigned topic discourse must not consume less than three (3) minutes or more than five (5) minutes for delivery. The purpose of the assigned topic discourse is to test the speaker’s knowledge of the subject, the extent of his or her research, and the ability to discuss the topic as related to the basic principles of government under the Constitution.
The assigned topic shall be drawn by the contest official in full view of the audience immediately before the last speaker begins delivery of his or her prepared oration and will be made known to the audience and each contestant approximately five (5) minutes prior to the time of delivery. The topic will be on some phase of the U.S. Constitution, selected from Articles and Sections as listed under assigned topics for the current year’s contest in this brochure.
All contestants at each contest level are required to speak in the English language on the same assigned topic.
Assigned Topics for 2020 Oratorical Contest
- Amendment XII – Electoral College
- Amendment XXIV – Citizens right to vote shall not be denied by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.
- Amendment XXVII – No law, varying the compensation for the services of Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
- Amendment XX – terms of President and Vice President. When Congress shall assemble. Articles of Presidential succession.
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; — The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; — The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. — The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
Section. 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
Section. 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3rd day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
Section. 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
Section. 4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
Section. 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
Section. 6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
Section. 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
Oratorical Contest Rules and Regulations
Downloads and Other Resources
Oratorical Chairman Guide (PDF)
Oratorical Assigned Topics (PDF)
Oratorical Brochure (PDF)
Oratorical Flyer (PDF)
Oratorical Contest Dates (PDF)
Oratorical Judges Briefing (PDF)
Oratorical Judges Scorecard (PDF)
Oratorical Prepared Oration Scratch Talley Sheet (PDF)
Oratorical Assigned Topic Scratch Talley Sheet (PDF)
Oratorical Tabulation Program (Excel)
Oratorical: How To Conduct The Contest (link)