Civics students at Lincoln-Way North High School should have no trouble recalling details of the Fourth Amendment on test day.
Two Circuit Court judges from Will County were at the school this week reviewing details of the Amendment and case law surrounding it.
Their visit was arranged by the Illinois Judges Association (IJA) in conjunction with the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, 1787.
To celebrate, IJA member-judges are on a mission to deliver 225 classroom presentations at high school civics classes statewide during the last half of September, emphasizing the Constitution's history and contemporary relevance.
“I firmly believe this special celebration of our Constitution underscores an important part of civic education in our schools,” Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride stated in a press release. “By having Illinois judges explain our constitutional structure to students throughout the state, students may learn of the critical roles played by judges and the courts in their everyday lives.”
Circuit Court Judges Bobbi Petrungaro and Ray Rossi, who visited Lincoln-Way North on Sept. 17, began their “Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom” presentation by reviewing the three branches of government, the duties of a prosecutor and the duties of the defender.
They then delved into a discussion of an actual U.S. Supreme Court case, New Jersey v. T.L.O., which centered around a student whose purse was searched by school administrators after she was caught smoking in a school bathroom. The search uncovered marijuana, drug paraphernalia and money, implicating the student in dealing drugs. The student claimed the search violated her Fourth Amendment rights.
“Is it constitutional to search someone's bag without a warrant,” Rossi asked students. “Are students protected under the Fourth Amendment when at school?”
Students responded by saying that schools have rules in place to keep students safe and that school officials should be able to search lockers, backpacks and purses if there’s probable cause.
Their opinion matched that of the U.S. Supreme Court, which held in a 6-3 ruling that the search was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
“The presentation reinforced content we teach in our civics classes,” said Michelle Graham, chair of the social sciences department at Lincoln-Way North.
“Having our Will County Circuit Court judges in our school presenting to students helped to make what the students learn more relevant,” she added. “Through the presentation, students were better able to understand the neutral position judges must take when they interpret law.”