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Vampires in the courtroom?

For the first time in U.S. history, vampires have been allowed into the halls of justice. The fever for vampires – who seem to have taken over our popular culture – has invaded a federal courtroom. Vampires tend to be a good looking group of people, with a tendency to be overly dramatic, and a desire to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night. Teenagers, for reasons no one can even begin to explain, can’t get enough. So a group of educators struck gold with a plan to promote education about the U.S. Constitution through the use of social media and, yes, vampires.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth and the Close Up Foundation hosted the program in Washington D.C. during the past school year. More than 500 teachers from across the nation participated in eight programs during the 2009-2010 academic year, according to a press release from the U.S. Courts Administration Office. The series concluded last month.

The program generated a fictional sequence of events that started with “vampire” students (played by high school government teachers) posting vampire poems and other various comments on the school Facebook page. The school then removed the comments, thus creating a case about First Amendment rights. In the eight presentations, teachers played judges, attorneys, and jurors in order to demonstrate court proceedings and how far the First Amendment protects citizens.

Parents now may rest easy knowing that an obsession with vampires can at least to provide their children with some substantive education about the First Amendment. This thought may help parents sleep at night, while their teenagers stay awake waiting, albeit in vain, for Robert Pattinson (the lead vampire in the “Twilight” saga) to bite them.

- Kelly Dohnal

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