Justice Sonia Sotomayor Joins the Board of Civics Education Group

By Mark Walsh — December 02, 2015 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Serving on the U.S. Supreme Court makes one a member of a pretty exclusive club, and it isn’t often that the justices join the boards of other prominent organizations.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor has done just that—joining the board of iCivics, the educational organization founded in 2009 by retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The organization offers digital games and lesson plans for students and teachers to advance civics education. O’Connor, who left the Supreme Court in 2006, launched the effort out of concerns for U.S. students’ poor understanding of courts and other government functions, and she has worked tirelessly to promote it.

Sotomayor, who joined the high court in 2009, will be part of a 10-member governing board for iCivics, to help guide the development of its educational content and serve as an ambassador for the organization.

“My colleague Sandra Day O’Connor founded this organization. I am delighted to support her great work,” Sotomayor said in a statement released by iCivics. “Civic education has been very important to me in my life. Our society is bound by a set of founding documents reflecting our most important values and principles. I cannot think of more important work than making these concepts relevant to today’s students and ensuring that our democracy remains vibrant.”

Louise Dubé, the executive director of Washington-based iCivics, said in an interview that Sotomayor contacted her after an April event in which O’Connor was honored for her work on civics education by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sotomayor.

Dubé said Sotomayor was “unusually committed to education, to civics, and to using her station in life to bring the message to communities she relates to, especially Latino communities, that law relates to you.”

Asked what role she saw Sotomayor taking, Dubé said, “She is primarily going to be a fantastic spokeswoman for iCivics. She is a rock star with students, and we think she will help reach students directly.”

Dubé said Sotomayor did not express any qualms about serving as a board member of an educational organization.

Under the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Sotomayor’s role would appear to be permitted. The ethical canons apply directly to lower federal court judges, not members of the Supreme Court. But the justices generally strive to abide by the canons.

Canon 4 of the code is titled, “A Judge May Engage in Extrajudicial Activities that are Consistent with the Obligations of Judicial Office.”

” A judge may participate in and serve as an officer, director, trustee, or nonlegal advisor of a nonprofit civic, charitable, educational, religious, or social organization,” the code says, subject to limitations that include not serving if the organization would likely come before the judge or regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.

Meanwhile, iCivics, which has more than 100,000 registered teachers and whose games are played by 3 million students each year, also released a statement from its founder about Sotomayor’s decision to join the board.

“When I started iCivics six years ago, it was my hope that my colleagues would join me in inspiring future generations to learn how our legal system works,” Justice O’Connor said in the statement. “We need to teach them better if they are to pick up the mantle from us when it’s time to pass down responsibility for this country. Nothing pleases me more than welcoming aboard my esteemed colleague.”

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP