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May 15, 2009
Justice O'Connor and the Florida Supreme Court

JUSTICE SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR applauded the efforts of the Bar, The Florida Bar Foundation, and the Florida Supreme Court for their support of the efforts of the Florida Law Related Education Association, Inc., during her recent visit to Tallahassee. In her speech before the Legislature, Justice O’Connor recounted a story of a visit that Justice Fred Lewis made to an elementary school in Tallahassee. During the visit, Justice Lewis and Annette Boyd Pitts, FLREA’s executive director, demonstrated a case study with fourth-graders that addressed the Tinker case and how speech at school cannot be disruptive. Although Tinker involved silent student protests of the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands, the Tallahassee students applied their newfound constitutional knowledge to silently protest food in their own cafeteria. Justice O’Connor also addressed law school faculty and students, visited with local school officials and middle school students, and met briefly with members of the Florida Supreme Court. Students at Deerlake Middle School were eagerly awaiting Justice O’Connor’s visit. They had constructed a bulletin board filled with “Want Ads” for selecting a good justice. Students read their want ads to Justice O’Connor and discussed the qualities of a good judge. After the classroom visit, Justice O’Connor met with middle school civics teachers throughout the district. The “teachers were so excited to meet her…she is truly our hero,” stated Cathy Schroepfer, civics resource teacher for the Leon County School District. Justice Fred Lewis also met with Justice O’Connor to discuss their mutual interest in civics education, including her new interactive courts Web site and his Justice Teaching Web-based initiative. Since her retirement in 2006, Justice O’Connor has been actively involved in advancing civics education and particularly promoting public education about the courts. She has spearheaded a new Web-based civics initiative, www.OurCourts.org, designed to reinvigorate civics inside and outside of the classroom. Designed for students and teachers, the free resource provides civics education lessons, games, and opportunities for students to express their opinions and ideas. Pictured at the top from the left are Justice Jorge Labarga, Justice Lewis, Chief Justice Peggy Quince, Justice O’Connor, Justice Barbara Pariente, Justice Charles Canady, and Justice James Perry at the Florida Supreme Court.

[Revised: 11-13-2014]