Operation Protect & Defend (often referred to simply as “OPD”) is a program by lawyers, judges, and teachers committed to civics education in public schools that reflects the wisdom of retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that “Democracy must be taught.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (2014), three quarters of America’s students do not receive the effective education needed to perpetuate a democracy. The California Survey on Civic Education (2005) reveals that less than half of California high school seniors agree “Being actively involved in state and local issues is my responsibility.” Such words speak to the words of lawyer and educator Robert Maynard Hutchison who warned: “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination or ambush. It will be a slow extension from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”
We believe that the privilege of being admitted to the bench and bar carries with it a responsibility to serve the nation through fostering democratic principles. We also believe that working with teachers to help engage students in a dialogue about their citizenship rights and responsibilities under their Constitution and their government invigorates our democracy.