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Judges Welcome New and Native-Born Citizens to Celebrate the Constitution

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U.S. Magistrate Judge James A. Goeke welcomes new citizens at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley, Washington.

U.S. District Judge Sarah E. Pitlyk welcomes new citizens at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Credit: St. Louis Cardinals.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie K. Bowman welcomes new citizens at a naturalization ceremony at Miami University in Hamilton.

New citizens attend a naturalization ceremony at the Ohio History Center in Columbus.

Federal judges are taking part in a monthlong celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, presiding over special naturalization ceremonies at sports stadiums and local landmarks, leading public readings of the Constitution, and conducting civics education conversations with students. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli welcomes new citizens at Tropicana Field.

“Constitution Day is a day when citizens, by birth and naturalization, share in the community of being Americans who celebrate the ‘blessings of liberty’ as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli, of the Middle District of Florida, who participated in a recent naturalization ceremony at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Federal judges hope their participation heightens awareness of the role of the courts in daily life and encourages the public to take a greater interest in the legal system, and individual’s rights under the Constitution. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day are officially observed on Sept. 17, the date the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia in 1787, but federal courts often conduct special events up to a month before or after.
Here is a sampling of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day events:
California
The Eastern District of California hosted a reading of the Constitution in the rotunda of the Robert T. Matsui U.S. Courthouse in Sacramento, on Sept. 15. U.S. District Chief Judge Kimberly J. Muller hosted the event for a crowd of more than 100 attendees, including readers from high schools, the court and associated agencies, community members, and judges. Readers wore 19th Amendment sashes and received bookmarks celebrating women’s suffrage.

Students wear 19th Amendment sashes celebrating women’s suffrage at a reading of the Constitution at the federal courthouse in Sacramento.

On Sept. 27, U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel E. Butcher, of the Southern District of California, presided over a naturalization ceremony at the Cabrillo National Monument.
Florida

New citizens gather for a naturalization ceremony outside the courthouse in Fort Myers.

A naturalization ceremony was held for 30 new citizens on the steps of the federal courthouse in Fort Myers, on Sept 16. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kyle Dudek, of the Middle District of Florida, presided, and Florida Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga, who is a naturalized citizen, was the keynote speaker. After the ceremony, judges, local officials, and school children participated in a live reading of the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. Magistrate Judges Patricia Barksdale and Laura Lothman Lambert, of the Middle District of Florida, hosted Mandarin High School students at a naturalization ceremony, on Sept. 16, at the federal courthouse in Jacksonville where students interacted with new citizens and observed a court hearing. They also met in small groups with attorney volunteers to discuss the Preamble to the Constitution and its relevance to students and to individuals appearing before the court.
On Sept. 17, U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli, of the Middle District of Florida, presided over the Constitution Day naturalization ceremony for candidates from 20 countries at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Illinois
On Sept. 20, U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, of the Northern District of Illinois, swore in 65 new U.S. citizens from 32 countries at Daley Plaza in Chicago.
Iowa
In downtown Des Moines, U.S. District Chief Judge Stephanie M. Rose, of the Southern District of Iowa, swore in new citizens at the World Food and Music Festival, on Sept. 16.
Kansas
Outside the federal courthouses in Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita, on Sept. 16, federal judges and members of the local Federal Bar Association welcomed students, public officials, and the public to read sections of the entire Constitution.
Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia
U.S. Fourth Circuit Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory hosted writers of the three winning essays in the Fourth Circuit’s sixth annual writing contest to read their work at a virtual program, on Sept. 16. Some 115 ninth graders through twelfth graders in the five states of the circuit submitted essays on the Fourteenth Amendment and the Equal Rights Amendment.
Minnesota

U.S. District Judge Kate M. Menendez leads new citizens in reciting the Oath of Allegiance at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

On Sept. 13, U.S. District Judge Kate M. Menendez, of the District of Minnesota, was joined by the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul for a naturalization ceremony at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.
Missouri

New citizens recite the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis.

U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough, of the Western District of Missouri, welcomed 500 new citizens at a naturalization ceremony hosted by the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, on Aug. 19.
On Sept. 14, U.S. District Judge Sarah E. Pitlyk, of the Eastern District of Missouri, presided over a naturalization ceremony at Busch Stadium hosted by the St. Louis Cardinals.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey, of the Eastern District of Missouri, presided over a naturalization ceremony at the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, on Sept. 16.
On Sept. 28, U.S. Eighth Circuit Judge Raymond W. Gruender presided over a non-game day naturalization ceremony for 300 new citizens at Busch Stadium.
Nebraska
On Sept. 17, the grounds of an historic, one-room schoolhouse in Papillion was the site of a naturalization ceremony. U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael D. Nelson, of the District of Nebraska, presided. 
Nevada
On Aug. 20, U.S. District Judge Andrew P. Gordon, of the District of Nevada, swore in 700 new citizens from 80 countries during halftime at the soccer game between the Las Vegas Lights FC and the Sacramento Republic FC.
New York
On Sept. 16, U.S. District Chief Judge Margo K. Brodie, of the Eastern District of New York, presided over a naturalization ceremony at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn that included a special musical performance. U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie administered the oath, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ohio

New citizens recite the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony in Dayton.

U.S. District Judge James R. Knepp III, of the Northern District of Ohio, presided over a naturalization ceremony at the University of Toledo College of Law, on Sept. 16. New citizens took the Oath of Allegiance in the law school’s auditorium where family and friends were joined by students and by representatives of Ohio’s Congressional delegation.
On Sept. 19, federal judges Algenon L. Marbley, Douglas R. Cole, Michael J. Newman, Walter H. Rice, Thomas M. Rose, Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., Michael H. Watson, Stephanie K. Bowman, Peter B. Silvain, Jr., and Elizabeth A. Preston Deavers, from the Southern District of Ohio, participated in naturalization ceremonies across three locations — Miami University in Hamilton, the Ohio History Center in Columbus, and the University of Dayton School of Law.
Tennessee
On Sept. 19, federal judges of the Eastern District of Tennessee and the Knoxville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association hosted their annual public reading of the Constitution in the courtyard at the federal courthouse. One-minute segments of the Constitution were read by more than 100 public officials, students, judges, court staff, lawyers, and other community members.
On Sept. 23, more than 100 high school students spent a morning at the federal courthouse in Chattanooga. Students participated in a courtroom scenario, with a focus on the First and Fourth Amendments. Student journalists also interviewed U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier, of the Eastern District of Tennessee. 
Washington

On Sept. 16, 50 candidates for citizenship were naturalized at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley. The marching band played as a crowd of 2,000 students, families, and friends cheered. U.S. Magistrate Judge James A. Goeke, of the Eastern District of Washington, swore in the new citizens.
Related Topics: Public Education

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