Red River District Judge Luke Mitchell gave ninth graders a briefing on the US Constitution last Thursday. The school held a Constitution Day observance in the auditorium.
Mitchell began by describing a professor of his who was tough on his freshman students, but someone who he learned a great deal from. Mitchell showed a painting of the convention that drafted the constitution. He pointed out that the men all wore powdered wigs, but their actual average age was 44. The youngest member was 22 and the oldest, Benjamin Franklin was 70.
His presentation centered on several areas including Section III, dealing with the Justice Department. That set up the American judicial system of courts and appeals procedures.
Then Mitchell moved to the amendments. He pointed out the first ten are the Bill of Rights.
The first amendment includes the rights to free speech. He presented two landmark cases that came before the Supreme Court that set the standard for free speech.
The fourth amendment, Mitchell said, assured the right of citizens to be secure. Mitchell said, “This amendment gives us the right to be secure, grants protection against unlawful search and seizure, and requires that law enforcement get warrants issued.” The case cited involved a juvenile with a cell phone. There is an expectation of privacy, however Mitchell explained that persons under 18 cannot contract for a cell phone, so the phone really belongs to the parent or guardian, and the adult can control who gets to see what is on the young person’s phone.
Mitchell discussed the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown vs Board of Education that had a huge impact on society. He said, “The equal protection clause impacted society in all areas. It is still used today to test for a violation of rights.” Brown vs Board of Education was the ruling that led to school desegregation.
Then Mitchell explained the Louisiana court system and that he is the judge of the 39th judicial district, or Red River Parish. Several local cases were cited as Mitchell discussed how the decisions can affect everyone in the parish.
Returning to the theme of young men and women having an impact, Mitchell said to look around the parish. “You can make a difference at a young age,” said Mitchell. When they were elected, Red River had the youngest District Attorney and Clerk of Court. Mitchell said, “Remember the Constitutional Convention. The men in the picture looked old but they were very young. You are not far from their age. And although you’re young, you can make a difference.”
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