Sandra Day O’Connor in SLC

I found it surprising that the online edition of today’s Salt Lake Tribune did not have on its front page the visit of Sandra Day O’Connor to Salt Lake this weekend. (However I am pleased that the top headline is students protesting immigration legislation.) The article on O’Connor appears first in the Utah section of today’s paper.

O’Connor, 76-year-old retired Supreme Court Justice, spoke of her concerns about the state affairs with the U.S. Government to an audience of “lawyers, elected leaders and dignitaries” at a dinner for the Constitutional Services Project.

“We as a nation face many challenges,” O’Connor said. “I’m worried about the stability of the constitutional system of checks and balances that has served us so well for 200 years.”

After taking dinner attendees on an imaginary trip to Phildelphia, PA of the Constitutional Convention delegates meeting during the summer of 1787, O’Connor stated: Modern Americans need to learn the same commitment to the document. Each generation has to re-commit itself to the Constitution,” she said. “It’s not simple work. It takes time and energy and the kind of commitment our forefathers had. It isn’t passed down through the gene pool.”

O’Connor sadly attested to the fact that civics education is lacking in our schools and cited some statistics of people’s misperceptions of what the First Amendment is. O’Connor stated “What matters is not whether people can recite part of the Constitution or pass a test,” O’Connor said. “What matters is that people understand the principles that give it life today.”

I feel so fortunate that I teach in a school where an integral component of the curriculum is incorporating the teaching and principles of the First Amendment.

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