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2019 Scholarship Winners

Every year, Goldfinch Winslow invites local high school students to send us an essay in order to receive a scholarship. This year, Lawton Branham and Mallory Bindner have been chosen as our 2019 scholarship winners! Continue reading to learn a little bit about them and to view the essays that they submitted.

Lawton Branham

Lawton is a senior at St. James High School who is the Student Body Vice President and a member of the National Honors Society. She has been awarded with the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, a Junior Marshal and a Palmetto Girls State Delegate.

Essay: Looking To The Past

Throughout the history of the United States, the rule of legal precedent has been used by our courts to make judgements based on the outcomes of previous, similar cases. Prior cases ruled on by higher courts set the principle or rule for future cases. Both the judge hearing the case and the lawyers trying the case must be well versed in court cases from the past in order to know the legal rules that are already established. Edmund Burke’s quote, “People will not look forward to prosperity, who never look backward to their ancestors,” shows we must learn from our history in order to move forward and grow. Some of the most influential cases that have set the precedent for thousands of cases that followed are Gideon vs. Wainwright and Roe vs. Wade.

Gideon vs. Wainwright was a case heard in the Supreme Court in 1963 when a man named Gideon was withheld the right of representation due to the fact he could not afford to hire an adequate lawyer. Gideon was forced to represent himself in the courtroom and was found guilty. While in jail he wrote a plea to the Supreme Court and was granted a hearing. During the hearing, the Supreme Court agreed and stated that everyone has the right to an attorney no matter their financial status or the severity of the crime. This case is upheld today and has set the precedent for all court cases following it. Giving the right to proper representation in a court of law is not only a benefit of the privileged and wealthy, but is also available to people of all backgrounds. Every person is entitled to the right to an attorney whether they can afford to pay for one or if they need court-appointed representation.

Another case in which the legal precedent has been set is Roe vs. Wade. This is one of the most groundbreaking cases the Supreme Court has heard, and is still debated and discussed today. National attention was brought to the scene when a Texas woman sued the state after being denied the right to have an abortion, and the case was handed over to the highest court in the United States which weighed that abortion is legal in all fifty states. Overall, this case was based on the personal rights of citizens, and the debate is over when those personal right granted to each citizen by the constitution have been violated. Today’s states argue every year on abortion laws and the rights of women to have an abortion. Tying to make it harder or more lenient is the argument, and all cases fall back to Roe vs. Wade.

We are told all the time that we must learn from our past in order to have a bright future. This is true in all aspects of life especially in the courtrooms across America. The future court cases lie in the hands of the previous cases that laid down the rules and restrictions. Lawyers spend months studying old court cases that affect cases they may have to try in the future, and they must stay well versed in the cases that are happening in the present in order to represent their clients appropriately. The legal precedent will continue to be set and change as the Supreme Court hears hundreds of cases each year. By looking to the past, we can continue to learn and grow.

Mallory Bindner

Mallory is a senior at Socastee High School with a perfect 4.0 unweighted GPA. She has been awarded a Junior Marshal and recipient of the Prudential Service Award and Jefferson Award. Mallory is also a member of the National Honors Society.


“People will not look forward to prosperity, who never look backward to their ancestors.”

In school, children memorize dates, spit out information, forget the information, and then completely miss out on the life lesson from the topic. I know this because I live it. Sadly, this is our modern day reputation of most History Classes. Stories in history books are sifted through and looked over when in reality, these stories are the foundation of our country. Lessons learned in history serve as guidance for our future. If we don’t learn from the mistakes of our country’s past, we won’t be able to lead future generations to peace and prosperity.

This knowledge isn’t only important to our personal lives, but also to our judiciary decisions. Especially in today’s society, burdened by prejudice and superiority complexes, we must learn from our ancestors past mistakes. Through both violent and peaceful protests in our country’s history, the importance of equality has always prevailed. Whether it’s on account of race, sex, or any kind of bias, we’ve learned powerful lessons from horrible events that have treated people as anything less than equal. The understanding of these lessons are extremely relevant in the courtrooms across America, especially in cases surrounding child custody.

Child custody cases should always reflect a decision that will entail the safest environment for the child. Parents involved in child custody cases should not be judged based on their stereotypical gender roles as a mother or father, but instead based on their unbiased role as a guardian to the child. Every child lives in a completely different home with completely different routines. In some homes, children think of their father as the nurturing parent, not their mother. In some homes, children go to their mother for money, not their father. Roles as a mother and father are not black and white. Co-parenting is a messy and difficult situation, especially when faced with a custody battle. Child custody cases should give time to parents depending on the parent’s relationship to their child, not their label as a “Mother” or “Father”.

Whether the case in a courtroom is over the custody of a child, vandalism of a building, or gang affiliation, we must remember to learn from our ancestors past mistakes. The prime reason we have books recording our history is to learn from the choices we make in order to realize if we should make them again. We’ve made many mistakes as a nation but, with proper utilization of the guidance that has been given to us from our ancestors, we can continue to move into prosperity as a nation.

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