Kentucky Court of Justice
State, federal judges to visit Jefferson County classrooms Sept. 17 to teach students about U.S. court system
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- State and federal court judges will visit 21 Jefferson County public high schools Thursday, Sept. 17, to teach students in U.S. History and Government classes about the U.S. Court system as part of Judges in the Classroom, a U.S. Courts educational outreach program. The event coincides with the Jefferson County Public School District’s commemoration of Constitution Day on Sept. 17.
“Judges in the Classroom is a unique opportunity to educate students about court procedures and to focus their attention upon the importance of an independent judiciary in our society,” Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Wine said. “Our previous programs last fall and in spring 2006 produced great results for both the judiciary and the students. The project is a terrific example of cooperation between the federal and state judiciary.”
Together, the judges and students will explore Morse v. Frederick, a U.S. Supreme Court case about how the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech applies to school-sponsored extracurricular activities. Using Morse v. Frederick as a case study, judges will discuss with the students the movement of a case through the federal court system, the role of judges at each level of a case (including how they prepare for a case) and the substantive issues of the case. These topics cover the concepts of federalism, the judicial branch of government and the protection of individual rights versus the government’s need to protect the common good. Working in groups, students will then use what they learned while discussing Morse v. Frederick, which is commonly referred to as the “Bong Hits for Jesus” case, to predict how the Supreme Court would rule in a hypothetical case provided to them.
The judges may also discuss their experiences as judges and their interest in public service.
In addition to engaging students to help them learn about the U.S. court system, the social studies lesson complements the core content curriculum in U.S. history and government and will help prepare students for the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System assessments in April. As part of the CATS assessments, high school students - specifically juniors - are expected to demonstrate an understanding of democratic principles and must be able to explain how the branches of government protect individual rights and promote the common good.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky coordinates the Judges in the Classroom program for Jefferson County, which was launched in 2007.
This year marks the 11th annual celebration of Constitution Day, which honors the historical signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operational arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice and supports the activities of 3,800 court system employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks.