Operation Protect & Defend (often referred to simply as "OPD") is a program by lawyers and judges committed to civic education in public schools reflecting the wisdom of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that "Democracy must be taught."

According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress (2006), three quarters of America's students do not receive the effective education needed to perpetuate a democracy. The California Survey on Civic Education (2005) reveals that less than half of California high school seniors agree "Being actively involved in state and local issues is my responsibility." Such words speak to the words of lawyer and educator Robert Maynard Hutchison who warned: "The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination or ambush. It will be a slow extension from apathy, indifference and undernourishment."

We believe that the privilege of being admitted to the bench and bar carries with it a responsibility to serve the nation through fostering democratic principles. We also believe that engaging teachers and students in a dialogue about their citizenship rights and responsibilities under their Constitution and their government invigorates our democracy.

"...civic education is essential to sustain our constitutional democracy. The habits of the mind, as well as habits of the heart, the dispositions that inform the democratic ethos, are not inherited. As Alexis de Toqueville pointed out, each new generation is a new people that must acquire the knowledge, learn the skills, and develop the dispositions or traits of private and public character that undergird a constitutional democracy. Those dispositions must be fostered and nurtured by word and study and by the power of example. Democracy is not a 'machine that would go of itself,' but must be consciously reproduced, one generation after another." (Margaret Stimmann Branson, Center for Civic Education, 1998)

Join The Team

Operation Protect & Defend is a program for Sacramento area high schools sponsored by the The Sacramento Federal Judicial Library & Learning Center.
If you are a teacher, administrator, student, judge or lawyer wanting to get involved in Operation Protect & Defend, we encourage you to contact us for additional information.

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