The Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law at Colorado Law commemorated annual Constitution Day on September 28 and 29, a practice it has engaged in for the last twelve years. In 2004, Congress recognized Constitution Day as a day of national observance and required all schools receiving federal funding to provide educational programming pertaining to the Constitution. The Byron White Center endeavors to bring curriculum into surrounding schools that allow students to think about the Constitution through the lens of modern issues. This year, volunteers met with high school classes across the state to discuss how the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, impacts privacy rights.
Volunteers included Colorado law students and practitioners from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office who taught in 44 high school classes spanning Fort Collins, Boulder, and south Denver. Following a “train the trainer” model, volunteers were taught how to deploy an engaging and thoughtful curriculum in high school classes.
“As a student, I always appreciated the opportunity to get off campus and into the community for Constitution Day,” said Christina Stanton, Clinical Associate Professor and director of the Constitution Day program. “It is so invigorating to see what parts of the lesson light up high school students and to connect with them on a personal level beyond the legal analysis.”
Students were asked to imagine what aspects of one’s private life should, if any, be unregulated by the government. Volunteers then led over 500 students through a legal analysis of whether the Constitution includes a right to privacy and where that right might be located. Against the backdrop of significant privacy case law that has been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, volunteers asked high schoolers to consider how rights to same-sex or interracial marriage, contraception, and procreation may or may not be impacted by the Court’s recent decision.
“It was an incredibly rewarding experience that I hope to take part in again,” said Madeline Dwyer ‘26. The students and teachers in the local high schools noted a similar reward on their end.
“The value in this program is both the lessons and students getting the opportunity to see and hear from law students who have chosen the field and found value in this course of study,” said Chris O’Grady, a teacher at Rocky Mountain High School.
To expand the reach of conversation about the Constitution Day, the White Center also coordinated a lecture at Colorado Mesa University led by Colorado Law Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Research Doug Spencer. Prof. Spencer’s lecture, "Why Do People Lack Power in a Democracy?" discussed where the right to vote comes from, how it has been limited, and how that has contributed to inequality and alienation among groups who are now seeking non-electoral mechanisms to effect change.
CU undergraduate students were also encouraged to recognize the national day of observance by participating in a quiz that tested their knowledge of the Constitution and related current events. Nearly 350 students completed this quiz for a shot at winning a gift card sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Education.
“I’m excited that the White Center was able to provide so many avenues of education for young people to learn about the Constitution this year.” Suzette Malveaux, Director of the Byron White Center noted. “It is important for the next generation to understand Constitutional rights and how they impact their lives.”
The White Center’s Constitution Day project is supported, in part, by Outreach funding from CU Boulder’s Office for Outreach and Engagement.