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Fall 2018

The Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Library and Learning Center in Sacramento has launched an imaginative new educational outreach effort, the “Civics Passport.”

The Civics Passport is intended to explain the functions of and interaction among federal, state and local governments, including the courts. As part of a program held at the center last month, some 40 students and teachers carried the Civics Passport on a walking tour of downtown Sacramento. Different groups made stops at different locations, where they received presentations and/or educational materials and had their passports stamped with each agency’s official logo or seal.

The initial tour included visits to the California Third District Court of Appeals, Sacramento City Hall, the California Railroad Museum, the California State Capitol and Capitol Museum, and the Unity Center at the California Museum. Additional stops will be added in the future.

The Civics Passport was the brainchild of Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon. Dr. Kari Kelso, the Ninth Circuit’s public education and community outreach administrator, who manages the Kennedy Learning Center, helped bring the idea to fruition. She worked with creative staff from the Office of the Circuit Executive to develop a very official looking passport booklet.

For the kickoff, the center brought in a vendor to take photographs of the students and affix them on the first page of the passport. In the future, center staff will handle those tasks. The passports make a great memento for students to take with them.

Dr. Kelso is working on “how to” materials which will make it easier for other districts to emulate the program. I encourage you to reach out to her if you are interested and want more information.

Fall is upon us again, which means getting the word out about the next Ninth Circuit Civics Contest, an essay and video competition open to high school students circuit wide. “The Fourth Amendment in the 21st Century: What Is an ‘Unreasonable Search and Seizure” is the theme for the 2019 contest. Students are asked to consider how the United States Supreme Court has applied the Fourth Amendment to technology.

Flyers advertising the 2019 contest were distributed in August to all the districts in the circuit. We are hoping that getting information to the schools earlier will help teachers consider ways in which the contest might supplement their lesson plans.

As I reported in the last Courts and Community Committee newsletter, the 2018 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest was a big success with an estimated 1,300 students participating. The first-place winners of the essay and video competition and other students who fared well in local contests were recognized during a reception at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in Anaheim. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy once again attended, making remarks and posing for photographs with the students. We cannot thank him enough for his ongoing support of the contest and other civics education efforts in the circuit.

Let me close by recognizing two outgoing committee members, Senior District Judge Ralph Beistline of the District of Alaska and District Clerk Sean McAvoy of the Eastern District of Washington. Each has made valuable contributions to the work of the committee and I thank them for all their efforts. I want also to welcome our newest member, District Clerk Debra Kempi of the District of Nevada.

Many judges and court staff in the Ninth Circuit are committed to civics education and community outreach. Thank you and keep up the good work!

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