The Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project at Suffolk Law was founded in 2010 by Professors Michael Avery and Kim McLaurin. The Project, originally founded in 1999 by Professor Jamin Raskin at American University’s Washington College of Law, is named in honor of the late Justices Thurgood Marshall and William J. Brennan, Jr. The vision of the Project is to empower high school students to be responsible citizens and lifelong participants in the democratic process by teaching them about their constitutional rights and responsibilities through the Supreme Court cases that affect students directly. The Project keeps alive in the 21st Century the passionate vision of two of the 20th Century’s great Supreme Court justices. From his leadership of the fight for school desegregation through his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Marshall never stopped believing that access to education was the great hope for social progress. Justice Brennan spoke often of the need to bring the Bill of Rights to life for generations of students, noting that constitutional guarantees are “tissue-paper bastions if they fail to transcend the printed page.”
The Project at Suffolk Law was made possible by the generous financial contribution of Suffolk Law alumni Paul Mitchell, JD ’87, and John DeSimone, JD ‘87. The entire Suffolk Law community are grateful for the contributions of Attorneys Mitchell and DeSimone.
The goals of the Project, which is a chapter of a national program based at American University Washington College of Law, are expansive: “to
uplift constitutional understanding, advance democratic values,
and promote young people’s engagement in politics and government.”
Each year, students accepted into the year-long Project – known
as Marshall-Brennan Fellows – have the rare opportunity to
study constitutional law and simultaneously teach it to Boston
and Cambridge public, charter, and pilot high school students in
urban minority population areas.
Marshall-Brennan Fellows enroll
in a weekly seminar course, Constitutional Justice in School, taught
by Professors Kim McLaurin and Bob Smith. The seminar course covers the
intricacies of Constitutional Law as it applies to high school
students. Topics include Free Speech for Students, Separation of
Church and School, Search and Seizure in School, Equal Protection
against Race Discrimination, and Due Process in School. The weekly
seminar also affords Fellows the opportunity to explore pedagogical
problems in teaching constitutional law.
Coinciding with their coursework, Fellows teach in pairs at local
high schools throughout the year.
As part of the teaching experience, Fellows also
work with high school students to prepare for a regional moot court
competition each year. The winners of the regional competition
are invited to compete in the National Marshall-Brennan Moot Court
In additional to earning course credits in the weekly seminar,
Fellows are eligible for credit under the Pro Bono Program for
the teaching component of the Project.
For more information, listen to a short podcast of Professor Roberts and Monika Bandyopadhyay, JD ’11, discussing her experience with the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project in our Rappaport Center Public Policy Podcast.
All Suffolk Law students
in good academic standing who are not in their final year are eligible
to apply. Due to time constraints, Fellows may not participate
in any clinical program while enrolled in the Project. Constitutional
Law is a prerequisite.
A Marshall-Brennan Info Session
is held at the law school in February to provide students with details
of the Project. Applications for the 2013-2014 Project are due
on March 8, 2013. Final selections for Fellows will be made by the beginning of April. Fellows are matched with high schools in August.
A mandatory full-day Orientation takes place at the beginning of
the Fall Semester.
Attend an Information Session on Thursday, February 7, 2013, from 2-3pm in Room 265. Event Flyer.
Download Application (PDF)
Application Deadline: Friday, March 8, 2013
Please direct any inquiries
about the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project to Mia Friedman.
Read more in-depth information about the Project in a Suffolk Alumni Magazine article.