On September 16, 2016, the American Founding Group, the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), and the UGA Law School hosted a celebration of Constitution Day. The centerpiece of these festivities was a lecture by Professor Akhil Reed Amar, the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University and nationally renowned expert on the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court, entitled “The Constitution at a Crossroads.” The lecture and moderated question and answer session was held at 2pm in the UGA Chapel, and was followed by a dessert reception and book signing in Candler Hall. In addition, there historical documents and materials related to the American founding and U.S. Constitution were on display at the Chapel from the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
What is Constitution Day?
Constitution Day is the annual celebration of the day that representatives to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia completed and signed the U.S. Constitution in 1787. The observance of this day began as “I am an American Day” in 1940 and later as Citizenship Day in 1952 when the celebration was moved to September 17 to commemorate the signing of the original document. Constitution Day as we observe it today was recognized as a federal holiday in 2004, when Senator Robert Byrd passed a bill designating September 17 as the day for citizens to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and to thoughtfully engage with the nation’s founding document.
About the Speaker
Akhil Reed Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, where he teaches constitutional law at both Yale College and Yale Law School. His work has won awards from both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society. He has been favorably cited by Supreme Court justices across the spectrum in over 30 cases (citing to four different books and more than a dozen distinct articles), and he regularly testifies before Congress at the invitation of both Republicans and Democrats. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2008 he received the DeVane Medal—Yale’s highest award for teaching excellence.
He has written widely for popular publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and Slate. He was an informal consultant to the popular TV show, The West Wing, and his work has been showcased on more recent TV shows such as The Colbert Report, Charlie Rose, and The MHP Show. Professor Amar is also the author of several books, including The Constitution and Criminal Procedure: First Principles, The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction, America’s Constitution: A Biography, America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By, The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of our Constitutional Republic, and his most recent book, The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era, will be released in September 2016.