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Constitution Day Sept. 16

September 6, 2005


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Sept. 15 - Constitution Day: Displays of the Ten Commandments in Public Areas
Sept. 14 - Constitution Day: Who is Responsible for Illegal Downloads of Music Files?
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Sept. 12 - Can the Government Sieze Land for Public Purpose?

MACOMB, IL – Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: “We The People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this, Constitution for the United States of America.”

The 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting 218 years ago. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day: to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. To celebrate the Sept. 17 signing of the U.S. Constitution, Friday, Sept. 16 will mark the annual Constitution Day set forth by the United States government. To mark the momentous occasion in history, Western Illinois University will host a variety of activities beginning Monday, Sept. 12.

According to Mario Morelli, co-chair of Western’s American Democracy Project (ADP) committee and philosophy and religious studies department chair, the week’s events will begin with a display of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights in the University Union Concourse. There will also be a Constitution display on the fourth floor of the Leslie F. Malpass Library, including a poster replica set of the Constitution and a painting of the signers of the document.

“Western's participation in the American Democracy Project represents a recognition and commitment to making WIU's graduates better informed and more engaged as citizens,” he added. “Knowing more about the Constitution and how it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court is of great value in their better understanding of their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and of the powers and limits of their government."

In addition, library staff have gathered a bibliography of Constitution resources that are in the library’s collection, and a website will be developed by library staff with a listing of Constitution-related sites. The website will also include commentary by Western’s faculty on recent Supreme Court decisions on constitutional-related issues such as the display of the 10 Commandments, music and video file-sharing, the death penalty and more.

"Although the direct impetus for commemorating the signing of the Constitution comes from a Congressional mandate, the goal is a worthy one of increasing constitutional knowledge. The continuing importance of our constitution can be seen in today's news stories ranging from the political battles over the selection and confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice to the difficulties in Iraq over agreeing to a constitution acceptable to the various groups in that country as it seeks a workable framework for the self-government of a unified nation,” Morelli explained.

National Public Radio’s (NPR) “Justice Talking” debate on “Free Speech in the Digital Age” will be broadcast live from the National Archives in Washington from 12:30-1:30 p.m. (central time) Friday, Sept. 16 in Morgan Hall 109. The event is open free to the public. A discussion will follow. This live broadcast of NPR’s Justice Talking, hosted by Margot Adler, is a special hour-long Constitution Day edition. The show’s topic will examine censorship in libraries, textbooks and on the Internet. The program will focus on the First Amendment and will examine reasons for both protecting and limiting speech, including the protection of minors and assuring community safety, ensuring a free marketplace of ideas and guaranteeing democratic institutions. Adler will field questions and comments from the live studio audience of schoolchildren and their teachers during the debate.

The following Western Illinois faculty will provide commentary on Western’s website (www.wiu.edu) on various constitutional related issues:

Monday. Sept 12-Friday, Sept. 16: Virginia Jelatis, associate professor of history - Ratifying of the U.S. Constitution; and Phyllis Farley Rippey, associate professor, political science - The Constitution As a Foundation for American Government.

Monday, Sept. 12: Keith Boeckelman, associate professor, political science, Kelo v. City of New London (May the government seize land for “public purposes” when it is turned over to private developers?).

Tuesday, Sept. 13: Barry Anderson, associate professor, law enforcement and justice administration, Roper v. Simmons (May juvenile offenders be subject to the death penalty?).

Wednesday, Sept. 14: Charles Malone, chair and associate professor, University Libraries - Metro-Goldwin-Mayer Studios Inc. et al. v. Grokster, Ltd., et al. (Are software companies responsible for illegal downloading of music files by users of the software?).

Thursday, Sept. 15: Phyllis Farley Rippey, associate professor, political science, McCreary County, Kentucky et al. v. ACLU of Kentucky, et al. and Van Orden v. Perry (Are displays of the Ten Commandments in public areas permissible?).

Friday, Sept. 16: Martin Dupuis, associate professor, political science, Johnson v. California (What counts as racial discrimination in jury selection?).

For more information on Constitution Day, contact Morelli at 309/298-1057, or visit the following websites: www.constitutionday.com, www.house.gov/Constitution/Constitution, www.constitutioncenter.org, www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/charters/constitutionwww.findlaw.com, www.billofrightsinstitute.org or www.civiced.org or www.constitutionproject.org.

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (DR-Shinberger@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations