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Magistrate ‘crazy in love’ with constitutional rights

Porter Superior Court Magistrate Mary DeBoer speaks to eighth-graders at Immanuel Lutheran School in Valparaiso.

VALPARAISO — “I am crazy in love with these rights,” Porter Superior Court Magistrate Mary DeBoer told eighth-graders at Immanuel Lutheran School.

DeBoer spoke Friday about the Constitution, emphasizing the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights includes freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom against unreasonable search and seizure, protection from cruel and unusual punishment and others.

“They wanted to make sure somebody wouldn’t blow into town and take that right away from you,” DeBoer said.

Her talk was in honor of Constitution Day, which is celebrated every Sept. 17. Her schedule wouldn’t permit her to speak to the class Monday.

“The Constitution is the background of our country’s rights,” DeBoer said.

DeBoer told the class when she was 13 or 14, she wasn’t as passionate about the Constitution as she is now.

“I can tell you I thought zippo about the Constitution,” she said.

But DeBoer also told them about students from Parkland, Florida, who exercised their First Amendment rights to speak freely and to peaceably assemble after a shooting at their high school claimed 17 lives.

“These kids had this horrific thing that happened,” she said. “It turned everything upside-down.”

Many of the students urged lawmakers in Florida, Congress and elsewhere to address mass shootings in the United States.

“Guns are a huge issue in this country,” DeBoer said. “There are definitely people on both sides of that issue.”

It’s good to hear a variety of opinions expressed to help sort out what you believe, she told the students.

“In other countries, that’s unheard of,” she said.

Following the Bill of Rights, there were 16 other amendments, including ones that freed slaves, proclaimed African-Americans to be free, gave women the right to vote and lowered the voting age to 18, among others.

“Sometimes when you look forward at the goal, the goal is so far away,” she said. “What people forget to do is look back and see how far they’ve come.”

DeBoer fought tears as she showed a photo of her stepson, Marine Daane DeBoer, who died in Afghanistan in 2010 while fighting for Americans’ rights. He had been a student at Immanuel Lutheran.

“You guys are our future. When I’m old and decrepit, I’m counting on you guys,” she said.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.