CBA Record July-August 2018

PRESIDENT’S PAGE BY STEVEN M. ELROD       

The Chicago Bar Association

OFFICERS President Steven M. Elrod

Holland & Knight LLP First Vice President Jesse H. Ruiz

name all three branches of government • One in three Americans (33%) cannot name a single branch of government In a similar survey, the New York Times found that fewer than 50% of the nation’s eighth graders know the purpose of the Bill of Rights, and only 25% of high school seniors are able to name a power granted to Congress by the U.S. Constitution. The Pew Research Center found that less than 3 in 10 people can name the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and that 70% of Americans have absolutely no idea of what the federal government does and doesn’t do. Pew went on to say that “The level of civic ignorance allows our politicians to make lowest common denominator appeals, which leads to public discontent about the inability of politicians to make good on campaign promises.” A Harvard Political Review study draws a parallel between the lack of civic awareness and low voter turnout in our local, state and national elections and cites the 2016 presidential election in which voter turnout hit a 20-year low. The correlation between low voter turnout and lack of knowledge of civics illustrates the need for a significant increase in civics education. The Harvard study also noted that millennials’ trust in government has plummeted, with no public institution earning more than half of their support. The failure to engage Americans in our democracy is a tragedy that will continue to have a profound array of long-term nega- tive effects on our country. A recent Los Angeles municipal election had a meager 12% voter turnout. Back home, only 31% of registered voters in Cook County cast a ballot in the March 2018 primary elec- tion, and a mere 16% of Cook County’s registered voters cast a ballot in Illinois’

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Second Vice President Maryam Ahmad Cook County State's Attorney's Office Secretary E. Lynn Grayson Nijman Franzetti LLP Treasurer Timothy S. Tomasik Tomasik Kotin Kasserman LLC Executive Director Terrence M. Murphy Assistant Executive Director Elizabeth A. McMeen BOARD OF MANAGERS Jonathan B. Amarilio Alan R. Borlack Judge Thomas M. Durkin Sharon L. Eiseman Mark B. Epstein Nina Fain Hon. LaShonda A. Hunt Michael J. Kaufman Hon. Diane Joan Larsen Lori E. Lightfoot Kathryn Carso Liss Hon. Thomas R. Mulroy Matthew A. Passen

E ach incoming president charts a course of action for the new bar year. As I announced at the CBA Annual Meeting on June 21, my goal is to focus our members on Civics, Civility and Collegiality. My first column highlights Civics–the need for civics education, and programs to promote it. In a nutshell, civics education helps people understand how our government works. Without a basic understanding of civics, future generations of Americans will have no understanding of: (1) how our democracy and government work; (2) the meaning of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights; (3) the true meaning of Lincoln’s phrase “government of the people, by the people and for the people;” and (4) every citizen’s duty to vote. Yet recent public surveys point to an appalling lack of basic knowledge and understanding about civics. Here are some startling statistics from a CNN survey: • One in three people (33%) cannot name a single right protected by the First Amendment • Only one in four people (25%) can

Brandon E. Peck Mary Robinson Federico M. Rodriguez John C. Sciaccotta Adam J. Sheppard Helene M. Snyder Greta G. Weathersby

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