Law school marks Constitution Day with father of law-related education

(September 5, 2011) Seattle University School of Law will mark Constitution Day with a program that celebrates the 100th birthday of the Dr. Isidore Starr, the father of law-related education, and explores the future of civics education.

Starr, who at 100 is still passionate about the importance of civics education, will speak at the Sept. 17 conference. He will highlight the history of the field through the 1930s, when he discovered that the case law method he was studying in law school worked to energize and educate high school students in Brooklyn.

"Today every national law-related education program can trace its roots to the efforts of Dr. Starr. His collaborative work with the U.S. Supreme Court in early 1960s laid the blueprint for national and state efforts to teach students about the Constitution, Bill of Rights and founding documents," said Margaret Fisher, a distinguished practitioner at the law school who has taught street law for more than three decades. "He is a legend. This man has changed lives."

More than 80 national and state leaders in the field of law-related education will be present to raise the level of discussion about the teaching of the Constitution. Among the other featured speakers are Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen and Justice Charles Wiggins, and Mabel McKinney Browning, director of the American Bar Association's Division of Public Education. The deans of Washington's three law schools will speak on a panel about the role of the legal profession in civics education.

Teacher Wendy Ewbank will demonstrate a lesson through iCivics, an online project developed by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to teach civics and inspire students to be active participants in our democracy. Actual middle school students from local schools will compete in the game, featuring the U.S. Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines School District, which established that public school students have free speech rights. Mary Beth Tinker, the lead plaintiff, will expound upon her case and on the status of students' rights today. The public is invited to attend this session from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Also at the event, the Washington State Bar Association's Council on Public Legal Education will present the Flame of Democracy Award to Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Fairhurst.

The program is presented at Seattle University School of Law in cooperation with the American Bar Association and Co-Sponsored by the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, Center for Civic Education, Constitutional Rights Foundation-Chicago, Constitutional Rights Foundation-Los Angeles, Gonzaga University School of Law, iCivics, Street Law, Inc., University of Washington School of Law and the Washington State Bar Association.

For more information about the agenda and registration, please contact Professor Margaret Fisher at

View the TVW coverage of Constitution Day events:

Sullivan Hall