The Marshall-Brennan Fellowship Program
In the fall of 1999, the Washington College of Law at American University launched the Marshall-Brennan Fellowship Program, named in honor of the late United States Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and William J. Brennan, Jr. This project, founded with the enthusiastic support of Mrs. Cissy Marshall and the late Mrs. Mary Brennan, was designed to mobilize talented second- and third-year law students to teach a course on constitutional rights and responsibilities in Washington-area public high schools, including a special curriculum on the history and future of democracy and the right to vote.
This movement for constitutional literacy is rooted in the belief that students will profit a lifetime from learning the system of rights and responsibilities under the U.S. Constitution. Many citizens do not participate and feel disengaged from politics. The Marshall-Brennan Fellows work with teachers, administrators and lawyer volunteers to teach the most disempowered and disaffected students their rights as citizens, the strategic benefits of voting, how lawmaking occurs and other fundamental constitutional processes.
In addition to teaching Supreme Court cases that concern students' rights, the Fellows take their students to watch arguments at the Supreme Court and help them prepare for the William H. Karchmer "We the Students" Competitions. Through briefing cases, arguing in a constitutional moot court, writing essays and participating in public interest projects, the students study their rights and responsibilities under the Constitution and experience the power of being active participants in their government and community.