In his annual year-end report, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts, Jr., focused on civics education, calling for increased confidence in and education about the judicial system.
After opening with an anecdote about the founding fathers in which a misinformed mob injured John Jay, co-author of the Federalist Papers, Roberts said that the “principles [of the Constitution] leave no place for mob violence.”
“We have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside,” Roberts write in his report. “In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital. The judiciary has an important role to play in civic education, and I am pleased to report that the judges and staff of our federal courts are taking up the challenge.”
Roberts then details several programs designed to increase the transparency of the judicial system, including classroom programming and the “Open Doors to Federal Courts” intiative where students participate in a mock trial.
He also highlights similar programs in New York City, New York; St. Louis, Missouri; and Sacramento, California.
Near the end of his report, Roberts praised the work of retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who helped to found iCivics, a non-profit that helps educate students about civics through free teacher resources, as well as Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who “picked up the torch in that effort.”
The chief justice emphasized that civics education is an ongoing task, saying that although the Federalist Papers provide a foundation, they are only a “starting point.”
“Civic education, like all education, is a continuing enterprise and conversation,” Roberts wrote. “Each generation has an obligation to pass on to the next, not only a fully functioning government responsive to the needs of the people, but the tools to understand and improve it.”
Read Roberts’ full report here.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter for The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected].