Published: Sept. 16, 2013

More than 50 students and dozens of alumni of the University of Colorado Law School will teach a lesson on the First Amendment in more than 50 high school classrooms throughout Colorado Sept. 11–20 in recognition of Constitution Day.

Constitution Day is a national event that annually commemorates the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the United States Constitution.

The students and alumni will visit classrooms in Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Colorado Springs, Denver, Glenwood Springs, Greeley, Fort Collins, Lafayette and Westminster. The Constitution Day Project was launched in 2011 by the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law.

“I am thrilled that we will once again be able to send law students and lawyers all over the state to talk about the Constitution with high school classes,” said law Professor Melissa Hart, director of the Byron White Center. “Our students and alumni are excited about the opportunity to work with high school students and teachers, and to contribute to the important goal of broadening public constitutional literacy.”

The lesson plan, which was created by law students with the guidance of Hart and several high school civics teachers, focuses on the boundaries of freedom of speech. The lesson begins with a review of the basic structure of the Constitution and then focuses on the text of the First Amendment. After reviewing the law, students will be guided through a debate about whether a student’s inflammatory words at a political protest amounted to fighting words in violation of the Constitution.

Law students also will discuss the First Amendment with CU-Boulder undergraduate students in campus events on Sept. 20. 

In last year’s Constitution Day Project, the center sent 80 law students and alumni, and 30 local attorneys to over 100 state high school classrooms. The lesson involved the Fourth Amendment and a student’s expectation of privacy for his or her cell phone, followed by student debates.