Courts Matter 101
ACS is excited to announce we’ve rebranded our Love Our Constitution initiative to Courts Matter 101. Courts Matter 101 is a program that encourages ACS members to share about the importance of the judiciary by leading community discussions at any time during the summer. ACS has prepared presentation materials and additional resources to make it easy for everyone to organize a discussion of any size. Presentations can include teaching neighbors, friends, boy scout troops, community college classes, and more. View our FAQs.
2021 Curriculum: Powerpoint and Resources available now!
This year's theme: Courts Matter
After years of the Trump administration, we have also seen judicial nominations that lack diversity, lack the necessary qualifications, and promote divisive ideologies, making them unrepresentative of the American people. Now more than ever, informing and engaging the public is crucial to preserving our judicial institutions and promoting justice for all people.
The program is designed to highlight Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the role of courts as a robust and impartial institution. Our court system ensures that constitutional civil liberties such as justice, fairness, and equality are afforded to all individuals, regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship, or disability status.
About the Courts Matter 101 Initiative
Courts Matter 101 is a chance for ACS members to engage with their community through discussions both large and small. In past years, members like you hosted more than 30 programs involving over 1,100 people across the country to discuss the judiciary and its impact on current events.
The Courts Matter 101 curriculum is available here.
"Recent events demonstrate more clearly than ever the importance of the citizenry understanding our Constitution and system of government. As lawyers, we are in a unique position to promote that understanding.”
– Carolyn Shapiro, an Associate Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, Co-Director of its Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States, former Illinois Solicitor General, and a Member of the Chicago Lawyer Chapter Board of Advisors.
ACS’s Courts Matter 101 program is an initiative designed to foster discussion on the Constitution and the role of the courts in American law and policy. It involves all members – law students, lawyers, scholars, judges, activists, policymakers, and volunteers of all ages and backgrounds – to help expand ACS’s Constitution in the Classroom (CITC) program beyond the classroom through presentations and discussions on the role of courts under Article III of the Constitution.
Courts Matter 101 focuses on the Judiciary. The program is designed to highlight Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the role of courts as a robust and impartial institution. Our court system ensures that constitutional civil liberties such as justice, fairness, and equality are afforded to all individuals, regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship, or disability status.
There’s nothing you need to write or research! ACS publishes a regularly updated curriculum in Power Point (the presentation is available here). Consider organizing a virtual presentation or a smaller in-person group, if circumstances allow. Additionally, ACS has also produced a handout on the federal judicial nominations process here.
In addition to the PowerPoint presentation, ACS has pocket U.S. Constitutions and membership brochures that we can ship directly to you. Once you’ve scheduled your presentation and indicated how many individuals you expect to participate after advertising the details of your Courts Matter 101 program (please refer to the sign-up link), we will send you the appropriate amount of these materials to the address you’ve indicated in your sign-up form.
Some suggestions where to hold your presentation (virtually or in-person as allowed) is as follows:
- Community Colleges
- City Town Halls
- Public Libraries
- Independent Bookstores
- Local public schools
- Enlist a friend to help. A fellow lawyer or law student is great, but anyone interested in our legal system is eligible.
- Pick a target audience. Do you want to focus on college students? Your neighbors? Elementary school kids? Your coworkers?
- Pick a location. First, decide is your presentation will be virtual or in-person. Ideas for locations and target audiences are located above, but think about a space convenient for your target audience. Local public libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, town halls, churches, schools, community colleges, and universities all may have space. Not sure how to ask a location to let you hold a talk? Please see item number 7 below.
- Prefer an online conversation? Plan to hold a discussion live on Zoom, Facebook Live, etc. (Please be sure to register your online presentation and to send us a screenshot so we can track your great work!)
- Pick a time and date.
Please find below a sample email that you can modify in order to request a space location.
Dear Mr./Ms. [person in charge of the facility you’re requesting]
My name is [x] and I’m a member/volunteer with the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS). ACS is the nation’s leading progressive legal organization, with approximately 200 student and lawyer chapters in almost every state and on most law school campuses. Our chapters hold over 1,400 public programs across the country each year, including debates, conferences, press briefings, and networking opportunities.
ACS’s Courts Matter 101 program is focused on educating the public about Article III of the Constitution and the role of courts and our legal system in American law and policy.
May I along with other volunteers conduct our Courts Matter 101 program on [insert date] between [x] and [x] time? We anticipate that the presentation will take approximately one hour.
We’re grateful for the opportunity to use your space. Thank you for taking the time to consider my request and to help ACS foster discussion on the importance of our Constitution, courts, and our legal system.
[Sign your name]
- Make sure you've completed the sign-up form here at least two weeks before your event to ensure we can send you pocket U.S. Constitutions. (Don’t worry if the Constitutions don’t arrive in time – you can always print out Article III of the U.S. Constitution here.)
- Review the presentation (here). Don’t feel confident? Remember the goal is to share basic information about the importance of federal courts and spur discussion. But for more, check out the National Constitution Center website. Their interactive Constitution app and website have great information.
- Decide whether to audio or video record your presentation. If so, make arrangements.
- Arrive early on the big day. Set out the pocket U.S. Constitutions/print outs of Article III and sign in sheets (download them here). Ask a friend to take some photos (including from the back of the room).
- Thank everyone for coming and expressing interest in our U.S. Constitution and courts. Introduce yourself, and let them know what you love about our Constitution, courts, and ACS. Give your presentation, leave plenty of time for questions, and at the end, conclude by asking everyone to sign up for more information about ACS if they didn’t on the way in.
- Send photos and sign-in sheets (a photo from your phone is fine if you don’t have a scanner) to LCEmails@acslaw.org.