News & Events

UMPI celebrates Constitution Day with presentation on constitutional rights

The University of Maine at Presque Isle will celebrate the 227th birthday of the signing of the U.S. Constitution with a special presentation delivered by Dr. Brent Andersen, an assistant professor of political science (adjunct) at the University.

On Wednesday, September 17, from 10 to 11 a.m., students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to observe Constitution Day by gathering in the University’s Campus Center for the special lecture, which is titled Constitutional Rights: Past, Present, and Future. This event is free and open to the public.

During the presentation, Dr. Andersen will explore how constitutional rights, as interpreted and applied by the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, and the presidency, have protected individuals against state government infringement on those rights. He will discuss the protection of voting rights in the civil rights era, and the developing legal doctrine of protecting same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. The presentation will include a question and answer session as well as a participatory quiz in which attendees will seek to answer “literacy test” questions that were, in the past, used by state governments to prevent African American voters from voting.

Dr. Andersen has given several presentations at UMPI in celebration of Constitution Day, including several “Living History” lectures. He explained that the theme of this particular Constitution Day event was selected for a few reasons, including connections with current events.

“This summer was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and next year will be the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Dr. Andersen said. “Also, lately there have been a string of federal court decisions advancing the legal doctrine that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. So it seemed appropriate to explore the theme of how people’s rights have expanded over the history of the Constitution.”

Congress designated September 17 as Constitution Day – a national celebration of our country’s founding document – to commemorate the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the Constitution. In 2004, Congress passed a spending bill that included a provision requiring every school and college that receives federal money to teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17, with a grace period should that day fall on a weekend or conflict with established schedules.

To provide education to the entire campus community, the University plans to install a display on the first floor of the Library featuring information about the Constitution. As well, anyone logging onto the University’s homepage can click on the Constitution Day box, which will lead them to an interactive version of the Constitution at www.constitutioncenter.org/constitution.

The Constitution Day lecture is a free event and the public is invited to attend. Pocket-sized printed copies of the U.S. Constitution will be distributed during the event. For more information, call 768-9452.