Do you know the constitution?

Several students from Jefferson City High School participated in the “We the People” competition at the Capitol. During the course of nine weeks, these 13 students studied the U.S. Constitution in preparation for the competition, set up like a congressional style hearing. The students, seated from left, are JCHS junior Lydia Meyer, Claire Briggs and Naomi Felber, both seniors. Seated from left are Tim McDowell, retired educator; Charlie Hinderliter, Ph.D., and a “We the People” alumni; and Sander Sowers, attorney.

Several students from Jefferson City High School participated in the “We the People” competition at the Capitol. During the course of nine weeks, these 13 students studied the U.S. Constitution in preparation for the competition, set up like a congressional style hearing. The students, seated from left, are JCHS junior Lydia Meyer, Claire Briggs and Naomi Felber, both seniors. Seated from left are Tim McDowell, retired educator; Charlie Hinderliter, Ph.D., and a “We the People” alumni; and Sander Sowers, attorney. Photo by Julie Smith.

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Although the program is not as robust as in years past, We the People, a yearly constitutional law competition, still attracted 55 students, including 13 from Jefferson City High School, to the Capitol on Monday.

Sponsored by the Missouri Bar Association, the competition is styled as a congressional hearing; each team is divided into six units composed of three or more students.

Working as a team, the students prepare and read four-minute speeches, followed by a brief question-and-answer session from a panel of “judges,” typically derived from the state’s legal community.

The students addressed questions such as: “Why did the framers set up the Constitution in a way that doesn’t enumerate the powers of the presidency in the same way it does for Congress?” and “How did the South justify leaving the Union prior to the Civil War?” and “How does a jury check the powers of government?”

A three-member team of JCHS students were asked to expound on the weaknesses and strengths of the modern presidency.

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