Ohio Northern University law graduate Justin Marks.

Justin Marks, JD ’23, said he was “astonished” when he received the call that he was the winner of this year’s New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) Student Note Competition, noting, “The recognition came at the end of law school and was like the cherry on top.” He was awarded a $10,000 prize to be split with the Law Review student organization at Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law.

Marks, who beat out his ivy league competition, won for his insightful publication entitled: “Fighting a Foreseeable Fauci ‘Fourth’: A Fourth Amendment Take on Hypothetical ‘Lock-Down’ Orders.”

The article posed a hypothetical scenario where the government placed all unvaccinated people on lockdown.

“I think what made the article stand out from the others is that I applied the Fourth Amendment doctrine to the issue,” Marks explained. “The Fourth Amendment is designed to protect people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. In this case, not allowing citizens to leave their homes, I applied logic and argued the action was not valid nor reasonable.”

Marks says his five years serving as a police officer inspired the article. “Every time you stop someone, that falls under the Fourth Amendment. My familiarity with the doctrine made it a logical fit for the paper,” says Marks. 

It was a novel argument, and one the NCLA felt was worthy of national recognition. Marks received the award in Washington, D.C., June 1, 2023.

“I think what was most flattering was when the Alliance told me should the country ever experience another shut-down, my article would likely be used to challenge the decision.”

Law Review Editor Daniel Painter said the timeliness of the article was noteworthy. “People had legitimate questions about the extent of government involvement in curbing the spread of COVID-19…I found his approach fair. He acknowledged that many of the government's actions during the pandemic may have been necessary and appropriate. Nevertheless, he encouraged readers to pause and consider how far they were willing to allow government intrusion into their personal lives and the freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights,” says Painter. “I appreciated that this article challenged my own assumptions and even persuaded me on a few points, which is indicative of a great law review article.”

“The award will enable Law Review to create collaborative learning spaces within the law school for its editors and provide additional tools and technology to enhance the editorial process,” said Erin Bacon, a third-year law student and Law Review’s managing editor. 

Marks is a Double Bear. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science at ONU in 2020 and returned for his J.D., which he obtained in May. He will spend the summer studying for the bar exam and will begin working at the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office in Lima, Ohio this fall.