Nearly four dozen Indiana county and appellate judges plan to visit 119 schools across the state this week in honor of Constitution Day.
The judges will primarily visit K-12 schools and most will distribute pocket-sized versions of the state constitution, the federal constitution and the Declaration of Independence to students.
“Primarily it’s meant to be fun, to reach out, to give them something to think about when they go home,” said Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David. He will be traveling to Zionsville Middle School on Monday to speak with two classes.
The judicial officers will be free to talk about whatever they choose, but they are encouraged to base their discussions on questions from students, said Elizabeth Osborn, coordinator for court history and public education at the Indiana Supreme Court.
David said he plans to introduce himself, discuss the three branches of government and go over the state and federal constitutions. He said the questions he receives often range from what pets he has to “relevant, pertinent, thought-out questions.”
In all, two Indiana Supreme Court justices, one appellate judge and 41 county and circuit court judges are participating in the Constitution Day visits. However, a few, like David, will have to conduct their visits on days other than Tuesday, the official holiday.
All judicial officers across the state received a letter encouraging them to arrange their own visits with schools of their choice. At the same time, some teachers received notifications inviting them to reach out to their local judicial officers to ask for meetings.
“We think it is very important for the judges to have the opportunity to interact with kids on how the judicial system works,” Osborn said. “Constitution Day seemed like the perfect day.”
“It is very important,” Justice David said. “I very much enjoy doing it.”
The Indiana Supreme Court began Constitution Day programming and activates in 2005, a year after the late U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia added an amendment to a federal spending bill requiring schools that receive federal funding to offer programs annually on Sept. 17.