Welcome to the civics education section of our website. This page features resources for students, parents, and teachers about the Vermont Judiciary and how government works.

What Is Civics Education and Why Is It Important?

The study of civics helps you understand how government works. It gives you knowledge about your rights as a citizen of the United States. Civics teaches you about the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government and why these three branches must work together to pass, enforce, and interpret the laws.

For Students

"A Guide to the Vermont Judiciary"

"A Guide to the Vermont Judiciary" will help you understand how the courts are organized and run. It also describes the work of the courts and the many programs and services they provide. 

 

Meet the Justices

A chief justice and four associate justices constitute the Vermont Supreme Court. Justices are appointed by the governor. The justices have many responsibilities. They decide appeals from other state courts. They decide on the rules that the courts will use to guide their work. They oversee the running of the courts and how lawyers are licensed. They also make sure that judges and lawyers are properly doing their jobs. Learn more about the Supreme Court.

Constitution Day

You can learn about the origins of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights by watching this one-hour video featuring judicial officers from the Vermont Judiciary. Panelists include Chief Justice Paul Reiber, Associate Justices John Dooley and Beth Robinson, and Superior Judges Robert Mello and Nancy Waples. 

"A Student's Guide to the Vermont Constitution"

Did you know the Vermont Constitution is over 200 years old? Did you know Vermont laws are based on this document? This booklet from the Vermont Secretary of State's Office can help you better understand the Vermont Constitution. The booklet includes questions, writing assignments, and activities. Designed for students grades 7–9.

iCivics

Former US Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor founded iCivics to inspire students to be active citizens. You can experience how government works by playing games that let you be a judge, a member of Congress, or even the president of the United States.;

How a Bill Becomes a Law

See how a bill becomes a law in Vermont with The Adventures of Bill. This comic book about the state's legislative process was designed with the help of high school students. Read it to discover just how many people it takes to make a bill become a law and see how you can become involved. Designed for students grades 7-9.

The History of the Vermont Court System

The Vermont Judiciary may be over 200 years old, but it's still being worked on. Did you know the legislature restructured the judicial branch in 2010? This document will tell you how the Vermont Judiciary began and how it has evolved.

For Teachers and Parents

Visit the Supreme Court / Plan a Field Trip to Montpelier

Students can view the courtroom of the Supreme Court and sit in the justices' chambers while law clerks present an overview of the judicial branch of government. Students sixth grade and older participate in a mock trial that demonstrates civil and criminal law and courtroom procedures. Through this experience, students learn about ethics, civility, and professionalism; enhance their understanding of the law, court procedures, and the legal system; and improve proficiency in basic life skills, such as listening, speaking, reading, and reasoning. It may even stimulate their interest in a law-related career!

The tour is available two days a week, and we can accommodate only three groups a day. You may book a tour through the school tours coordinator at the Vermont Legislature at 802-828-1411 or by emailing schooltours@leg.state.vt.us.

The United States Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court consists of the chief justice and a number of associate justices fixed by Congress. Currently, there are eight associate justice seats. The president has the power to nominate the justices, who are appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. This website provides information about the current and past members of the court, decisions they have issued, and the Supreme Court building

Center for Civic Education

The Center for Civic Education is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in California. The center’s programs are implemented with the assistance of a network of public- and private-sector organizations and educational leaders in every state and congressional district in the country and more than eighty other countries, many of which are emerging and advanced democracies. This website includes many resources, publications, and lesson plans. 

Learn About the Electoral College

This website provides information on the electoral college and the election responsibilities of the states and the archivist of the United States. The site is maintained by the US National Archivist and Records Administration in Washington, DC.

The White House

Which president served as a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American War? Who was the first Democrat elected after the Civil War? Who introduced Social Security? The official webpage of the White House provides information about the current administration, past presidents, and how federal government works.

Other Free Publications for the Classroom

This link, maintained by the Secretary of State's Office, provides civics-themed books, board games, and coloring activity books to Vermont schools free of charge.