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Federal Judge Orders U.S. Agency To Allow Zambia Citizen To Compete in U.S. Poetry Contest

A Zambia citizen who is neither a U.S. citizen nor a permanent resident can compete in a poetry recitation contest sponsored by a U.S. federal agency this week, thanks to a ruling by a federal judge.

Judge John Woodcock issued a ruling in U.S. District Court in Portland, Maine ordering the National Endowment for the Arts to allow Allan Monga, 19, a junior at a public high school in Portland, to compete, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Monga won the state’s Poetry Out Loud contest earlier this month. It is sponsored locally by the Maine Arts Commission and nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The federal agency initially said Mong couldn’t compete because he didn’t qualify. But the judge ruled that the agency only cited federal statutes “suggestive of congressional intent” when it comes to setting the rules without actually relying on a “congressional enactment that requires it to impose these citizenship or permanent resident requirements to the … competition,” according to the Bangor Daily News.

The student and the Portland Public Schools sued in federal court to overturn the federal agency’s initial decision.

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