Two-hundred and twenty years ago yesterday, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed.
This document established the structure of our federal government, allocated power between the federal and state governments and asserted the rights of Americans, thus ensuring protection against the abuse of power.
In order to commemorate this occasion, Senator Robert Byrd of the U.S. Congress established “Constitution Day” with the passage of an amendment to the Omnibus spending bill.
Sam Houston State University philosophy professor Frank Fair said that Byrd has always had a great affection for the constitution, saying that he always carries a copy of it.
According to the Constitution Center website, “Federal law requires that all high schools, colleges and universities that receive federal funds hold an educational event about the Constitution.”
SHSU will respect this law by holding four “Constitution Day” presentations in the Lowman Student Center, room 320.
At 9:30 a.m., Dr. Tom Cox of the SHSU History Department will present “Regulating Rights: Federal Commerce Powers in American History.” Cox will discuss commerce powers and how it influences our everyday lives.
Whether it is alcohol sales, prostitution or drug laws, Cox said the presentation will “show some new ways on how the federal government controls our life.”
“It affects our lives in a lot of way,” he said.
At 11 a.m., Dr. William Carroll of the SHSU Political Science Department will present “Comparing Constitutions: Preambles as Statements of Regime Purpose and National Identity.”
Starting at 12:30 p.m. Dr. Jeff Littlejohn of the SHSU History Department will present “Religious Liberty: From the Constitution to the Culture Wars.”
Littlejohn said topics that will be covered include the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, recent Supreme Court cases that deal with religion and state and government rules and regulations.
“The Bush administration faith- based initiatives and the right to pray at high school football games will also be discussed,” Cox said.
The last presentation of the day will be held at 2 p.m. Dr. Michael Vaughn of the SHSU College of Criminal Justice will present “Something to Celebrate: Fourth Amendment Liberties.”
While supplies last, a free copy of the Oxford University Press “The United States Constitution: What It Says, What It Means: A Hip Pocket Guide” will be given away to everyone that attends.
“It is extremely important to know about the legal framework that governs all our lives,” said Fair.
He reported that approximately 322 students attended the presentations last year. This year marks the 220th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.
According to Fair, funding for the celebration is a collaborative effort between the political science department, history department, John De Castro, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Provost Dr. David Payne, Vice President for Academic Affairs and the American Democracy Project of SHSU.