ACLU Celebrates Constitution Day throughout San Diego County

San Diego – September 17, Constitution Day 2014 is a national holiday celebrated by all school children across the country, with a particularly organized and vibrant program here in San Diego. Today, 470 U.S. history and American government classes in the county will celebrate our nation’s Constitution and Bill of Rights with presentations by scores of volunteer attorneys and civic leaders coordinated by the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

In its eighth year, the ACLU’s Constitutional Civics Program this year will reach 17,000 students in 48 schools. Scores of volunteer attorneys and business leaders will present the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights in a coordinated program to highlight the brilliance, complexity and wisdom of our foundational documents.

Speakers this year include an eclectic mix of perspectives and experiences:

  • Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz, Escondido City Council
  • City Attorney Morgan Foley, City of El Cajon, City of Poway
  • President Todd Gloria, San Diego City Council
  • Lieutenant Neal Griffin, Escondido Police Department
  • Representative Scott Peters, Member of Congress, 52nd District
  • Councilmember Amanda Rigby, Vista City Council
  • Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer, Encinitas City Council
  • Current and retired federal magistrate judges for the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of  California
  • Prosecutors from offices of the U.S. Attorney, the California Attorney General, and the San Diego District Attorney
  • Defense attorneys from offices of the Public Defender and Federal Defenders and the California Innocence Project
  • Judge Advocates General from the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy
  • Law professors
  • Attorneys from the city’s top law firms, including our Constitution Day sponsoring firms: Cooley LLP and the McKenna Long & Aldridge Foundation
  • Attorneys and business leaders from Callaway Golf, Qualcomm, Sony, and State Farm

“With constitutional issues being raised in our nation and community on almost a daily basis, Constitution Day presents a unique opportunity to engage students in a discussion of this great and remarkable historic document and inspire their respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” said the Honorable H. Lee Sarokin, retired from the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit in an invitation to schools to join the program.

On Constitution Day, September 17 (and the days surrounding), lawyers and civic leaders across the county volunteer their time to give multimedia, interactive, nonpartisan presentations to middle and high school students.

The San Diego ACLU developed its program in response to a 2004 congressional mandate that all schools receiving federal funds provide educational programming on the Constitution on September 17, the date the document was signed in 1787.

The ACLU hopes the program will staunch the trend revealed by numerous surveys that young people have a dismally low level of knowledge about the U.S. government and our fundamental rights and freedoms.  Studies also show, however, that, when teachers and parents emphasize the importance of civic participation and discuss current events, twice as many students profess interest in politics.

A distinguished panel of judges, law firm partners and community leaders advises and supports the ACLU’s Constitution Day activities.  The Honorable H. Lee Sarokin (Ret.), U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd District, chairs the Constitution Day Council, and the Honorable James Stiven (Ret.), U.S. District Court, Southern District of California serves as program chair.  Law firm sponsors for Constitution Day 2014 are Cooley LLP and the McKenna Long & Aldridge Foundation.

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Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez presents at King-Chavez Community High School in 2013.