Denver Bar Association
April 2013
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Sen. Michael Bennet a PAL of Morey Middle School

by Alexa Drago

Sen. Michael Bennet
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet answers questions from a panel of students from Morey Middle School students on April 3.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet was quizzed April 3 by a panel of nine Morey Middle Schoolers on the fine points of government, the constitution, and issues facing the U.S. and Colorado.  The presentation was arranged with the help of PALS, the Partner Alliance of Lawyers and Schools—a program sponsored by the Denver Bar Associations’ Democracy Education Committee (DEC). PALS works to provide a multitude of meaningful in-class volunteer opportunities for attorneys, judges, and legal professionals, who want to give back to their community through an active participation in Denver’s schools.

The senator and former DPS Superintendent was introduced by Erich Bethke, co-chair of the DEC and a PALS volunteer at Morey Middle. With the help of their teachers and DBA volunteer attorneys, the students formulated their own questions covering a broad range of topics from same sex marriage, immigration, and marijuana legalization, to privacy rights, gun control, and national security.

Many of the questions were asked in the context of specific amendments to the Constitution, with the First and Second amendments being the most prevalent. Bennet was notably impressed when asked his thoughts on the Fourth Amendment and student privacy at school, in light of recent shootings.

He emphasized that today’s issues are complex, and rarely ever black and white. Potential laws often need to be examined in the context of multiple amendments, which can expose “values that are in tension with each other.” As a representative of the people, it is his job to resolve those tensions.

Bennet stressed that the decisions made in government today are most important to the younger generations, and it is their duty to become informed, develop their own opinions, and join the discussion. 

For the past two years, PALS has worked to establish a continuing partnership between DPS and DBA volunteer attorneys. Today’s presentation is just one example of how PALS works with teachers to promote civic education in Denver Public Schools. This program provides a consistent volunteer base for teachers throughout the school year to help with anything from leading a discussion on civics, to lending a hand during a reading or study hour. For more information on PALS and other DEC programs, click here.

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