WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were morally and legally wrong, and any explanation for them must not "shade into excuse," Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said in describing a program to help high school students understand the gravity of the events.
Kennedy and first lady Laura Bush were visiting a District of Columbia school Monday for the first demonstration of an education program Kennedy developed in response to the attacks that killed more than 3,000 people.
Kennedy plans to conduct the same exercise at a New York City public school later this week. Other potential sites include Las Vegas and Detroit.
"I thought that this might be a good time for the young people to focus on the fact that there are some constants, some fixed principles in law and civilization," Kennedy told reporters Friday.
His program, developed with the American Bar Association, envisions a series of discussions and role-playing sessions among students, lawyers and judges. He wants students to confront fundamental constitutional principles such as free speech or freedom of religion, and to regard those principles as worth defending.
"This is not chauvinism," Kennedy said.
Called "Dialogue on Freedom," the civics program is "designed to foster among our nation's youth the identification and understanding of fundamental American values and those universal moral precepts that all free people share," an outline said.
Kennedy proposed the discussion sessions to the ABA last fall, and wrote the hypothetical scenario to be used Monday, in which American tourists are temporarily stranded in a developing country called "Quest." A charismatic religious leader has attracted a following there by preaching hatred of America.
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