• FALL 2008
  • Educating the Public about the Law



Insights Focuses on the Environment and the Election

Insights on Law & Society Summer 2008

Current issues of Insights on Law & Society—a magazine for teachers of civics, government, history & law are available online at

The Spring issue, Environment and the Law (PC# 49702000803), and the fall issue, The Election (PC# 49702000901), are available for $10 per issue. Each issue contains articles, essays, debates, lesson plans, activities, and resources. Contributors include some of the nation's best writers, academics, and teachers.

Stay abreast of current affairs, Supreme Court cases, and the latest scholarship on the Constitution. Subscribe to Insights today. An annual subscription (includes three issues) is $34.


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The Rule of Law: A National Town Hall Meeting  Video

Download the video of the 8th Annual Leon Jaworski Public Program, The Rule of Law: A National Town Hall Meeting. Distinguished panelists from academia, finance, law, and media discussed the rule of law as both an ideal and a practical reality for Americans from all walks of life and fields of endeavor during this program. For details visit


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New Edition— ABA’s Complete Personal Legal Guide

Complete Personal Legal GuideIn October 2008, the Division for Public Education will release a new edition of the ABA’s Complete Personal Legal Guide: The Essential Reference for Every Household. This revised and updated edition includes easy-to-digest, comprehensive legal information every household needs.

The ABA’s Complete Personal Legal Guide offers the most comprehensive, useful, and authoritative information available on how the law affects individuals at home, at work, and at play. In addition to tips on real estate, health care, home ownership, retirement, and much more, there are new useful charts and graphs, insightful personal stories, and a new chapter on the growing specialty of “disabled” or “special needs” law that will be helpful to an even larger audience. Preorder your copy today and ensure that, whatever the legal situation, your family is knowledgeable and protected.


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It’s all About the Vote—Election Day Web Site

Visit to prepare yourself for the 2008 presidential elections. With in-depth features on voting, classroom lesson plans, and voting information in your state—this site is useful to every American.

The ABA vote Web site will feature comprehensive information on voting methods from the past and present as well as voting debates on voter ID, felon enfranchisement laws, and translation issues. A “Voting FAQ” section will answer all your questions on how to vote and voting methods, and dispel myths about the right to vote. And all Americans will find the “Voting Information in Your State” section useful.

Educators will be able to download lesson plans and review landmark court cases around the right to vote. In addition, links to sites such as Rock the Vote will enable educators to generate interest for voting among their students.

Visit today.


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Online Game Empowers Americans to Manage the Federal Budget

The American Public Media, in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, recently launched “ Budget Hero”—an online game that lets citizens weigh in on where their tax dollars should go.

“Budget Hero is a new type of journalism that gives people the big picture on the complex and fragmented federal budget process. We created this news game to help Americans feel they can understand and participate in the national debate over the election, the budget, and the direction of our country,” said Michael Skoler, executive director of the Center for Innovation in Journalism at American Public Media. “It isn’t easy to be a Budget Hero in the game. You have to stay true to the values you express in the first screen and create a budget that achieves your main goals without jeopardizing the fiscal health of the nation for your children and grandchildren.”

As players choose from over 100 policy cards, they explore the pros, cons, and social impact of the most important policy issues and choices facing our country. “Budget Hero” players get immediate feedback on their choices through a budget “skyline” that shows how their policies affect money for areas such as defense, education, and health care. They also watch as meters show them how their choices affect national debt, the size of government, and the year the budget goes bust (when there’s no money left beyond Social Security, health care, and interest on debt). The game gives players an accurate yet simplified understanding of the federal budget.

In addition, “Budget Hero” players can also compare how their policy choices and budgets stack up to other players across a wide range of demographic groups based on gender, income, age, political loyalty, or region. To play “Budget Hero,” visit


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BOOK REVIEW: American Juries: The Verdict

American Juries--The Verdict book coverAlthough the right to trial by jury is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, in recent years both criminal and civil juries have been criticized as incompetent, biased, and irresponsible. For example, the O.J. Simpson criminal jury's verdict produced a racial divide in opinions about that trial. And many Americans still hold strong views about the jury that awarded millions of dollars to a woman who spilled a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself.

Are these claims valid? The monumental and comprehensive volume, American Juries: The Verdict by Valerie P. Hans and Neil Vidmar, reviews over fifty years of empirical research on civil and criminal juries and returns a verdict that strongly supports the jury system. Rather than relying on anecdotes, Vidmar and Hans—renowned scholars of the jury system—place the jury system in its historical and contemporary context, giving the stories behind important trials while providing fact-based answers to critical questions. How do juries make decisions and how do their verdicts compare to those of trial judges and technical experts? What roles do jury consultants play in influencing trial outcomes? Can juries understand complex expert testimony? Under which circumstances do capital juries decide to sentence a defendant to die? Are juries biased against doctors and big business? Should juries be allowed to give punitive damages? How do juries respond to the insanity defense? Do jurors ignore the law? Finally, the authors consider various suggestions for improving the way that juries are asked to carry out their duties.

After briefly comparing the American jury to its counterparts in other nations, they conclude that our jury system, despite occasional problems, is on balance, fair, and democratic, and should remain an indispensable component of the judicial process for the foreseeable future. For more information on American Juries: The Verdict, visit


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Law Matters, the news source for the law-related education (LRE) community

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Law Matters, which reports on developments, ideas, programs, and resources in the field of public education about the law, is disseminated three times yearly (fall, winter, spring) by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Public Education.

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The views expressed in this e-newsletter are those of the editors and have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association or the Standing Committee on Public Education.

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Copyright ©2008 American Bar Association




Programs & Activities

Celebrating the Election Process on Constitution Day

Participate in the National Online Youth Summit

Law-Related Education Conference 2009

Law Day 2009 Theme Announced

History Teachers Go Back to School for Legal Lessons

Gavel Awards Recognizes Those in Media and the Arts





Supreme Court Update

The 2007-2008 Supreme Court term was perhaps most remarkable for the varying and unexpected coalitions of justices that decided the most controversial cases.   More...


Legislative Update

As the 2008 presidential election nears, LawMatters is taking a closer look at the education plans of the two principal candidates, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL).   More...




Research and Development in Law, Justice, Education, and Youth

National LRE and Youth-Serving Resources



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