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Wednesday
Nov132013

‘You can make a difference’ on issues, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor tells students

By JOE ROBERTSON
The Kansas City Star

This much former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor knew:

More than a thousand high school students were waiting in Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College, bused in from 25 area high schools Tuesday, assembled to hear her message of civic duty.

What she didn’t know was the back story that led her there.

That was the real-life drama of high school students 20 years ago in Olathe who stood before their school board — and ultimately a federal judge — asserting their First Amendment rights.

“What was the outcome?” O’Connor asked as she listened to the story backstage.

The wheels were turning inside her head. She was going to add this story — how teenagers had interceded when a school board moved to pull an award-winning book from its school library’s shelves — to the message she was about to deliver to the students:

“Don’t be afraid to get involved in issues of public law. We need you.”

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