Students, judges, lawyers, and reporters participate in Constitution Day

September 20, 2010
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This post was written by IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger

If you have a few minutes, fill out this “treasure hunt” regarding the different articles, sections, and amendments of the U.S. and Indiana constitutions that discuss certain issues such as religion, slavery, arms, suffrage, freedom of speech, trial by jury, and education.

How did you do?

That was the same task assigned to students from Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, Indian Creek High School, Emmerich Manual High School, Lawrence North High School, Franklin Home School Group, and other home school groups in the Indiana Supreme Court’s courtroom on Sept. 17 to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on that day in 1787.

Armed with their own pocket versions of the U.S. and Indiana constitutions, students were broken into small discussion groups about these topics led by various law clerks and court staff from around Indianapolis, including journalists like myself and IL editor and publisher Rebecca Collier.

Also on hand to speak with students were Elizabeth Osborn, assistant to the chief justice for court history and public education, and Kathryn Dolan, public information officer, who gave a welcome and explained why the court hosts students to celebrate Constitution Day; Dan Carden, Indiana Statehouse reporter for the Times of Northwest Indiana, who talked about how rights in the constitutions affect everyday citizens by protecting members of the press and the public; statehouse reporter Maureen Hayden for CHNI News Service led a reading of the U.S. Constitution’s preamble and the Bill of Rights; and Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Cale J. Bradford and U.S. District Court Judge Larry J. McKinney discussed how the U.S. Constitution affects the daily lives of citizens, including the students in the room, whether they think about it very often or not.

To watch the speakers address the students as a whole, visit the Courts in the Classroom website for a webcast from that day.

Students who were or would be 18 by election day on Nov. 2 were also given a chance to register to vote and ask questions of a representative from the Secretary of State’s office, who was on hand at the end.

In my group of AP Government students from Emmerich Manual High School, most students seemed to know the more obvious answers, but I was also impressed by their understanding of the way the two constitutions are similar yet different, based on what they’ve learned from their teacher.

While Constitution Day is meant as a way for students to take some time to learn or relearn the role the constitution plays in our society on that particular day, it’s obvious that it’s still important the other 364 days of the year. To get involved with civics education in Indiana, check in with a school in your area, or check out the Indiana Bar Foundation’s website. Or if you know a teacher interested in Courts in the Classroom projects, visit the court’s website for info on upcoming events.

And if you took the time to fill out the treasure hunt from earlier – or just want to know the answers – here is the answer key.
 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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