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Appellate judges, attorneys to visit Hoosier classrooms to celebrate Constitution Day

September 9, 2016

Judges and attorneys from across Indiana are heading into schools this month to celebrate the 229th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution with Hoosier students.

As part of this year’s celebration of Constitution Day on Sept. 17 — the anniversary of the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the Constitution in Philadelphia — 31 Indiana appellate, trial and federal court judges and Supreme Court attorneys will visit more than 2,000 students to teach them about the nation’s courts and judicial system. The presentations will take place over the next two weeks, said Sarah Kidwell, outreach coordinator for the Indiana Supreme Court.

This year’s presentations will be based on “Justice Case Files 6: The Case of No Pets Allowed.” The “Justice Case Files” graphic novel series was developed by the National Center for State Courts to help judges and attorneys teach students about how the court system works.

This year’s graphic novel follows the Ruiz family, who receive an eviction notice because they own a pet. The plot follows the family as they fight the eviction in court, a fight that is made more difficult because of their limited English-speaking abilities.

After the judges and attorneys read the story in the classrooms, they will discuss themes from the novel, such as contract rules and language barriers in the court system, with the students.

The presentations will take place in 18 Indiana counties, including a presentation by Chief Justice Loretta Rush at Anderson University in Madison County.

Indiana schools began celebrating Constitution Day in 2005 after Sen. Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia, created an amendment to the federal spending bill that required the federal government to distribute funds to educational institutions across the country for Constitution Day programming each year. The Indiana Supreme Court began offering educational activities in Hoosier courtrooms and classrooms on Sept. 17 of that year.

Cities across the country will host their own Constitution Day celebrations next week, including more than 40 naturalization ceremonies for new U.S. citizens.

In conjunction with the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary this year, federal judges will administer the Oath of Allegiance to new citizens next week at national landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Great Smoky Mountains near Knoxville, Tennessee, and Yosemite National Park in California.

Other locations such as Ellis Island and Pearl Harbor will also host naturalization ceremonies on Sept. 16, with U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit Chief Judge Robert Katzmann presiding over the Ellis Island ceremony. That ceremony will be live-streamed at 10:45 a.m. on uscourts.gov.

Teachers across the country can sign their classrooms up for the Preamble Challenge, a Constitution Day program that invites students to recite the introduction of the Constitution in classrooms, school yards and other public places.

Teachers who register their students for the Preamble Challenge will have access to other Constitution Day teaching tools and can also share videos of their students reciting the Preamble on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ConstitutionDay2016. Information about the Preamble Challenge can be found at uscourts.gov.

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