Updated: Sep 29, 2021
Civil Discourse and the Constitution: Candid Conversations
From FBA National to the San Diego Chapter
The Federal Bar Association launched a renewed initiative to focus on civics education throughout 2021. To support this initiative, the FBA incorporated a civics education event into its programming for the FBA National Annual Meeting & Convention, which took place in Miami, Florida.
On September 22, 2021, more than 40 judges and lawyers facilitated the “Civil Discourse and the Constitution: Candid Conversations” program reaching more than 550 students in Miami-Dade County public high schools. The program was created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and organized by members of the FBA’s Community Service and Outreach Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Committee. It is one of many events falling under the umbrella of the “Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions” program, which is designed to encourage civil discussion and enhance decision-making skills among students. Judges, lawyers, and students discussed the Constitution, how to handle difficult conversations, and strategies for making good decisions.
As President of the San Diego Chapter, it was my pleasure to participate in this program on behalf of our Chapter. I joined the Hon. Robin L. Rosenberg, U.S. District Judge, Southern District of Florida, and other counsel for a lively conversation with a classroom of engaged leaders of tomorrow. Students asked questions about pursuing legal careers, fairness in legal proceedings, and best practices when talking with people who have very opposite views than one’s own. The students’ curiosity and enthusiasm are truly inspiring and make volunteering for this type of event so rewarding.
“I loved participating in the virtual Civil Discourse and the Constitution: Candid Conversations during the FBA Annual Meeting and Convention,” reflects Jenn French, member of the FBA’s Community Service and Outreach Committee who also represented the San Diego Chapter for the outreach event. Ms. French notes the wide range of topics discussed, explaining: “The students asked thoughtful questions about the judicial appointment process, sexism and other issues facing women lawyers, disparities in criminal sentencing between those with and without power and money, and the interplay between federal law and state law regarding medical marijuana.” As she looked back on the experience, Ms. French says: “We had such a wonderful discussion that the class period flew by. It was fun and impactful: the students were engaged throughout the discussion, and I know that donating our time made an impact on the students’ lives. I can’t wait to do it again when we bring the program to San Diego.”