Monday, September 17, marks the 225th anniversary of the adoption of the United States Constitution in Philadelphia.
Across New York, schools will recognize this historic event with special programs and lessons as part of a federal initiative. The State Bar Association's Law Youth & Citizenship program supports Constitution Day with K-12 lesson plans for teachers, a civics roadmap, the Lawyer in the Classroom program, and partnerships with public and private organizations.
State Bar President Seymour W. James, Jr. today encouraged educators to go beyond basic recitation of facts, and to engage students in a vibrant discussion and examination of the Constitution's impact on our everyday lives.
"Through a Civil War and two World Wars, the Constitution has endured. Through civil unrest and racial strife and presidential assassinations and attacks on our country by outside aggressors, the Constitution has been the cement that has held our nation together," said James (The Legal Aid Society in New York City). "It is important that we share with future generations the rights embedded in it and regularly recommit ourselves to protecting those rights."
James said that more than two centuries after its adoption, the Constitution continues to serve as a foundation for freedom throughout our country and across the globe.
Since 1787, the U.S. Constitution has been the model for the constitutions of dozens of other countries, including those in Africa, South America and the emerging states of the former Soviet Union.
"The basic rights articulated in the Constitution - including freedom of religion, speech and assembly; the right to a fair and speedy trial, protection against cruel and unusual punishment; and the right to elect our representatives in government - are exercised and protected every day in the United States and abroad," he said.
A 2004 federal law requires schools to teach about the Constitution as a condition for receiving federal funding. Because some schools will be closed September 17 for Rosh Hashanah this year, the law allows for them to hold their Constitution Day lessons the preceding or following week.
The State Bar's Law Youth & Citizenship website offers numerous resources for teachers, students, attorneys and other citizens wishing to learn more about the Constitution and civics education. Visit www.nysba.org/ConstitutionDay for more information.
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Mark Mahoney
Associate Director of Media Services