Monthly Constitutional

The Prosecution's Turn

This Tuesday's 8th grade Monthly Constitutional featured Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Michael McIntosh. Michael talked about Miranda rights and touched upon the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments to the Constitution. His presentation included walking students through a homicide case that he prosecuted.

As tends to be the case when defense attorneys and prosecutors work with our students during their constitutional studies, Michael debunked a few of the practices seen on Law & Order!

Focus on the Electoral College

The Electoral College has been in the news this past week. Established in Article II of the Constitution by our nation's founders, it has been described lately as "outdated," "excellent," and "doing what it needs to do." 

To help our 8th graders sort this all out, election and campaign finance law attorney Adam Bonin presented – with Constitution in hand – at this morning's Monthly Constitutional.  Students learned about the framers' original intent of the Electoral College and considered different electoral scenarios if it were not to exist.

Thank you, Adam, for sharing your expertise and insights with our constitutional scholars!

Our Monthly Constitutional presenter in December will be Lynn Marks, former executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.

A Public Servant

Edward "Smitty" Smith, who recently ran for Attorney General of Washington, DC, was the 8th grade's Monthly Constitutional speaker last Friday.

Smitty worked in Philadelphia on President Obama's 2008 campaign and served in the administration from 2009 to 2014, when he decided to make his first run for elective office. Since losing his race (he came in second) - one of the topics he and our students discussed - he has joined the cabinet of DC mayor Muriel Bowser. Smitty is director of the district's Justice Grants Administration and the Office of VIctim Services. 

Smitty's conversation with students centered on issues of juvenile justice and the rewards of public service. (Smitty also took some time to extol the study of Latin!) Students will meet with him again in April, during the 8th grade's two-day visit to Washington. He will join a panel of Obama administration staffers and interns for a discussion at the White House Conference Center.

All About Miranda

Attorney Rich Zack was the 8th grade's featured Monthly Constitutional speaker today. The focus was on the the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona Supreme Court decision, which resulted in the Court's creation of a set of guidelines that must be followed prior to the interrogation of a person in custody. Students considered whether Miranda rights help or hinder the police - and, in turn, whether they help or hurt a person in police custody. 


Bi-Weekly Constitutional?

This week featured a second 8th grade "Monthly" Constitutional. This one featured speakers from Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts – program director Suzanne Almeida and legal fellow Becky Pruess.  They spoke about their organization's efforts to change the way judges are selected in Pennsylvania - they advocate moving from judicial elections to merit selection. Students discussed the qualities that they would like to see in a judge and the pros and cons of the two methods of judicial selection.

Special thanks to alumni parent Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, for arranging today's presentation.