Inns of Court Symposium Panel with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy opened the 2013 annual meeting of the American Bar Association with a call to action on behalf of civics education. Click here to access his remarks.
Our Courts Protect Us. Are We Protecting Them?
Fact: Many Americans Don’t Understand Their Courts
The law preserves our freedom, and our courts preserve our laws. Fair, impartial, and accessible courts are fundamental to our democracy. They ensure the stability of our government, preserve our Constitutional rights, ensure social order, and enable predictability in commerce.
Yet studies show that public understanding of the courts and the many challenges they face is limited. A recent survey by the National Center for State Courts indicated that only 21% of those polled were able to name all three branches of the U.S. government.
Americans need to understand their courts, how they work, and how they protect our liberties. When people understand the importance of their courts, they are more likely to support them against efforts to weaken court powers, to make judges vulnerable to political pressure, or to reduce judicial system funding.
Educating the Public, Strengthening Courts
We created the Our Courts America program because adult civic education is vital to filling the knowledge gap about our court system, and to help people understand the role of courts and the importance of supporting them.
Our website will provide an easy-to-use, accessible set of educational tools to help judges, lawyers, and community leaders share information with adults on why strong courts are important to our democracy. It will provide guidance on how to organize a program and where to find resources and assistance. The Our Courts America website will provide links to other websites, including successful state court education programs that participants can access for inspiration and information.
People learn best through participation, not passive listening. As resources become available we hope to expand the educational tools, ensuring that they are interactive and enjoyable to use. Eventually an Our Courts America toolkit will include downloadable media as well as activity plans that will engage and entertain audiences while providing important information.
Who We Are
Our Courts America, a project of Justice at Stake, is a national partnership of court advocates working to educate the public about the crucial role of state and federal courts, defend judges from threats and intimidation, promote diversity, and advocate reforms to keep campaign cash out of the courtroom. Our goal is fair, impartial justice for all.
Want to Help?
We can’t do it without you. Getting involved now is as simple as showing your support for building the tools needed to better educate the public about our courts.