CHICAGO—To celebrate the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the Illinois Judges Association (IJA) will kick off “Project 225,” a special program starting the week of Sept. 17, whereby scores of state judges will deliver 225 classroom presentations at high school civics classes statewide, emphasizing the Constitution’s history and contemporary relevance. The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787.
A kickoff was held at the Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield on Sept. 12. Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, other Supreme Court justices, government officials, and bar leaders joined IJA President, Judge Rita M. Novak, of Chicago, and members of the association, in a ceremony to explain the program and its objectives.
The judges, who have been trained to deliver the IJA’s “Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom” presentation, will present an updated version to high school juniors and seniors beginning this week and continuing through the end of the month.
Launched in Spring 2011 by IJA Immediate Past President, Illinois Appellate Court Justice Carol Pope and the association’s Courtroom in the Classroom Committee, the “Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom” presentation includes an overview of the three branches of government, followed by an interactive discussion on an actual U.S. Supreme Court case, New Jersey v. T.L.O. The case involves a female student caught smoking in the school bathroom. The principal searched her purse and found marijuana, paraphernalia and money, implicating the student in dealing the drug. The student claimed the search violated her Fourth Amendment rights.
A judge uses a PowerPoint presentation to explain how the case moved through the court system, then engages students in a discussion about the competing factors in the case: the need for safety and security versus the protection of personal privacy.