Students will learn the Constitution is more than just amendments, political science professor says.
Two lectures on the history and principles of the U.S. Constitution in observation of Constitution Day will be offered 10:50 a.m.-12:15pm Thursday on the fourth floor of the library in the performance area in Moody Learning Center.
Political science Professor Asslan Khaligh is coordinating the Constitution Day event, which is open to the public.
Constitution Day, also known as Citizenship Day, as began as “I Am an American Day” in 1940 and was the third Sunday in every May.
Olga T. Weber was a resident of Louisville, Ohio, and petitioned to change the date to the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. It was approved in 1953 by Congress and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., passed an amendment to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004 that requires public colleges and universities in the U.S. to have a day to talk about the heritage and significance of the Constitution.
The final draft of the U.S. Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, 1787, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Penn.
Political science Professor Wanda-Lee Smith will be master of ceremonies and introduce the two speakers, history Professor Thomas Settles and Khaligh.
Settles will discuss the history of the Constitution, such as when the constitutional convention took place, the discussion, and what happened, Khaligh said.
Khaligh will discuss the role of the federal government as specified by the Constitution.
“When people talk about the Constitution, they are only concerned about their rights. But to talk about the Constitution, we only talk about the role of government, their (federal government) jurisdiction, which we plan to emphasis this time around and not amendments,” Khaligh said.
“The word constitution basically means the role of government, and the rights of people come secondary to the constitution itself,” Khaligh said.
“We want students to know what the Constitution is rather than just the amendments,” Khaligh said.
“I think Constitution Day is important for the public because it gives some background and piques interest to learn more about this country’s democratic heritage,” he said.
In recent years, other nations, such as Canada, have more modern and revised constitutions than the United States. These constitutions include more universal rights to all people, not just citizens of that country, he said.
Sometimes he argues with his colleagues about whether a new constitution should be written because as the culture changes, a new model may be needed that addresses today’s issues, he said.
“In recent years, we have had all these issues and it has not been clear on how the founding fathers would have dealt with them,” he said.
“Sure, we can interpret what they meant, but other constitutions around the world have included some of these new provisions. The date was 1787 and the founding fathers had no idea of some of the issues that we would be facing today,” he said.
“I hope that one of these days that we decide to modernize the U.S. Constitution,” he said. He declined to say how he would change the constitution.
For more information, call 210-486-1009 for Khaligh.