Friday, September 17, 2010

Constitution Day

September 17 is Constitution Day - - - or Constitution and Citizenship Day - - - as declared by Congress.   The day commemorates the signing of the Constitution in 1787.

Thomas_P._Rossiter,_Signing_of_the_Constitution

However, this is no mere resolution.  The law, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 106, includes a provision that:

Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States  Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.

So, here's the question: What is your institution doing - - - and are you taking part in it?  If you are, what are you doing?  Focusing on the signers of the Constitution?  Discussing the amendments to the Constitution, including the Fourteenth?  Including "Citizenship"?  Linking the commemoration of the Constitution to current controversies?

Comments open.

RR

[image:  Signing of the Constitution, Thomas P. Rossiter (1818-1871), via]

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At the University of Toledo, we are presenting a panel on the Constitution and its application to current controversies, such as the individual health care mandate: http://utnews.utoledo.edu/index.php/09_17_2010/ut-to-celebrate-constitution-day-by-discussing-issues-in-todays-society.

Posted by: Lee Strang | Sep 17, 2010 4:43:14 AM

Ian Bartrum and myself are jointly doing a talk at Drake University Law School entitled "The Constitution as a Conversation." My talk is entitled "The Constitution in Comparative Perspective." I will assess the Constitution as a global project in two ways. First, I will discuss the key aspects of our constitutional order that have had a universal appeal to peoples throughout the world. Second, I will discuss some of the elements of our constitution that have been considered and rejected by many (if not most) of the world's democracies. Our constitution is one current in a much larger stream of global constitutionalism. It is a fair question, this Constitution Day, to ask what if anything we might learn from the constitutional experience of other democracies.
http://www.drake.edu/news/db/official/archive.php?article=6215

Posted by: Miguel | Sep 17, 2010 6:23:25 AM

At the University of Arizona Rpgers College of Law, our Rehnquist
Center on Constitutional Structures of Government sponsors an annual
public program devoted to high profile cases from the US S Ct's
past term. This year we discussed Citizens United, CLS v Martinez,
McDonald, and Free Enterprise Fund.

Panelists include judges, lawyers who have a Supreme Court practice
(this year we had Maureen Mahoney--in years past we have had several
former SGs) , and law professors. It is aimed at a mixed (lawyer/
lay) audience and is a very popular and well attended event.

The Center also sponsors outreach programs for local high school and
elementary students --though these do not necessarily fall on
Constitution Day itself. Last year Justices Scalia and Breyer were
here and spoke to local high schools about the Constitution and the
Court. They also held a debate/discussion about the Constitution
that was moderated by Pete Williams, and telecast. It was captured
on video and will become a teaching module available to schools and
others interested in the Court. Local attorney and former US S Ct
clerk Mike Meehan and Rehnquist Center Director Sally Rider have
taught segments in the local schools about the Constitution.
Justice O'Connor also has made many school and other public
appearances throughout Arizona, including here in Tucson, as part of
her civic education and judicial independence education efforts.

Posted by: Toni Massaro | Sep 17, 2010 7:14:53 AM

for 4 years now, i have given a one hour talk on the college campus organized by the college admin. i usually offer a mix of an update on recent supreme court cases and remarks about constitutional theory or history. i've enjoyed spending time with undergraduates and colleagues who teach political science and history.

matt steffey
mississippi college school of law

Posted by: Matt Seffey | Sep 17, 2010 7:15:59 AM

We had a Constitution Day presentation at LSU Law Center on September 15. Here's the description.

Constitution Day Program
"Voices of the Constitution" With Jerry Goldman, Inventor of the Oyez Project

Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2010 12:40 a.m. - 1:40 p.m.
McKernan Auditorium
Paul Baier

Posted by: Christine Corcos | Sep 17, 2010 7:18:09 AM

I gave a talk at Univ. Wisconsin Oshkosh entitled "Is the Fourth Amendment Obsolete?" It was attended by around 80 undergraduates and several faculty members.

hs

Posted by: Howard Schweber | Sep 17, 2010 8:27:06 AM

At Ole Miss, the Declaration of Independence Center for the Study of American Freedom has organized "The Constitution: Philosophical Foundations" for 3 pm today. Jack Nowlin is moderating, and panelists will be philosophers Steven Skultety and Robert Westmoreland and me. We thought about doing it on Constitution Eve, but Prof. Nowlin ultimately felt compelled by the "on September 17" language to do it today. Prof. Skultety will talk about republican theories of liberty, and Prof. Westmoreland will talk about what it means to say the Constitution is alive. I'll be arguing that Plato, Aristotle, and Timothy Williamson get some things right that Justices Taney, Scalia, and Jackson get wrong.

Posted by: Chris Green | Sep 17, 2010 8:43:23 AM


St. John's School of Law 2010 Constitution Day program, a faculty roundtable discussion on The Kagan Appointment and the New Court.

Panelists include Professors:

* John Q. Barrett
* Anita Krishnakumar
* Margaret E. McGuinness
* Mark L. Movsesian
* Adam Zimmerman

Posted by: John Q Barrett | Sep 17, 2010 10:40:36 AM

The "official" Constitution Day Committee at Sul Ross State University, Alpine, TX, showed a film "El Norte," which "follows the fictionalized journey of two migrants from Latin America." The theme was "immigration and the Constitution." I gave a 1 1/2 hour presentation on the Constitution in general, and as compared to the Texas Constitution; the role of the Supreme Court; the two recent blockbuster Second Amendment decisions (Heller and McDonald); and federalism issues (the longest portion). Comments and questions were taken at the completion of each topic.

Posted by: Ray Kessler | Sep 17, 2010 2:44:31 PM

I went with a group of law students to a local middle school to present a lesson and host a debate on Fourth Amendment search and seizure. The eighth-graders, over 50 in all, were wildly enthusiastic--quite obviously some budding constitutional lawyers among them.

Whenever I get a chance to do this, one thing strikes me: Even young people, who often have had only basic civics lessons in their formal studies, can derive, usually within a matter of minutes, the very same principles that animate legal arguments about (and Supreme Court rulings on) our Constitution. This holds whether I teach individual rights or structure. It seems that this must say something about our Constitution's basic, fundamental, and enduring nature.

Posted by: Steven D. Schwinn | Sep 17, 2010 3:24:15 PM

David S. Tanenhaus (History and Law) and Rebecca Gill (Political Science) organized UNLV’s 2010 U.S. Constitution Day. They arranged for Michael Willrich, Associate Professor of History at Brandeis University, to deliver the fifth UNLV Constitution Day Public Lectureship. Professor Willrich is an award-winning social historian of American law and constitutional history. Willrich’s public lecture, “Pox Populi: The Epidemic That Changed American Law, A Constitution Day Lecture,” drew more than 50 people. The audience included faculty, students, and members of the community.

In addition to his public lecture, Professor Willrich delivered a luncheon talk at the William S. Boyd School of Law (attended by more than 20 faculty members) and toured the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy.

Posted by: David Tanenhaus | Sep 23, 2010 4:21:06 PM

Yale Professor Akhil Reed Amar, claims that the Constitution consolidated the states into a single nation via Article V, holding the following:

"Article V does not permit a single state convention to modify the federal Constitution for itself. Moreover, it makes clear that a state may be bound by a federal constitutional amendment even if that state votes against the amendment in a properly convened state convention. And this rule is flatly inconsistent with the idea that states remain sovereign after joining the Constitution, even if they were sovereign before joining it. Thus, ratification of the Constitution itself marked the moment when previously sovereign states gave up their sovereignty and legal independence."

This is of course a very tortured argument which conflicts entirely with Madison's express statements that the Constitution did not form a nation among the states-- only FEDERAL union, wherein sovereignty remained with the state's people as a means of enforcing the Constitution.
Likewise, sovereign states do not relinquish their sovereignty by such vague implied statements-- nor was the Constititional convention even authorized to do so by the People of any state.

Rather, Article V is entirely consistent with a voluntary federal Union, wherein state governments were bound by federal law-- but a state's sovereign People were not, and could overrule both state and federal government alike.

In short, the South was right; and as Jeffersom implied, a national Constitution is NO Constitution. Unless the People of the states take back their soveregnty from the federal government, then the Constitution will remain a dead letter.

Posted by: Brian McCandliss | Jun 20, 2011 2:04:55 PM

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