Constitution Symposium


Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States by Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952). Image source

The Political Science Program, in cooperation with university faculty, students, community leaders, and practitioners of law, education, and politics, hosts an annual symposium on the Constitution that examines the history of the constitutional founding period, issues about constitutional interpretation, the meaning of constitutional theory, and the practice of constitutional institutions. 

The purpose of the Constitution Symposium is to promote the practice of constitutional studies that creates an environment of thoughtful constitutional discourse at Bellarmine University. It is committed to the rational analysis, interpretation, discussion, and debate of American constitutional principles, history, and practice.  It is inspired by a vision of citizenship that is both fully dedicated to the American constitutional order and engaged in deliberation about the meaning of American constitutionalism.

The symposium fits within Bellarmine’s educational environment that is pledged to excellence in teaching and research, academic freedom in scholarship and the classroom, and open debate and deliberation. The symposium fulfills Bellarmine’s mission “to foster a thoughtful, informed consideration of serious ideas, values and issues.” An understanding of the constitutional system and its relationship to the larger political, philosophical, and historical traditions that shape our world helps cultivate the type of leadership, careers, and service that benefits the community and the nation. The symposium intends to immediately affect the students of the university and ultimately enlighten all members of the Bellarmine community about the ideas that form the foundation of American constitutional discourse.

"Constitutional Studies, operated within the Constitution Symposium series, has been a central part of my junior and senior years at Bellarmine. The opportunity to closely study an academic work on a topic related to the Constitution and join the author for a two-day panel series has been very impactful. Exchanging ideas with my peers and experts in the field has expanded my perspective on some topics while solidifying my confidence in our constitutional order and the impact of civil discourse. I would encourage any student who is interested in politics and the Constitution to participate in this program."  -- Emily Compton, Constitutional Studies Student, 2019 & 2020

"The Constitutional Studies course as well as attending the Constitution Symposium events in my junior and senior years at Bellarmine has allowed me to critically think about the Constitution – in terms of different methods of interpretation as well as the influence the Constitution has on the structure of our government – in ways that I had not been challenged to do in traditional pre-law courses at Bellarmine. It is truly a unique experience to delve deep into particular constitutional matters and to then get to discuss those ideas with your peers, Political Science professors, the author of the book you read throughout the semester, and with the greater Louisville community at the Constitution Symposium event. Furthermore, I did not expect this course to challenge my own perspective on the Constitution as much as it has; and I feel like these experiences have been invaluable to me as a Political Science and Pre-Law student. I would highly encourage any Bellarmine Student who is interested in profoundly exploring the written foundation of our government or any student considering a career in law to take advantage of the impactful and challenging opportunities available through the Constitutional Studies course and the Constitution Symposium events." 
--Allie Just, Constitutional Studies Student, 2019 & 2020

February Constitution Symposiums

2020 – Liberty and the Constitution

Speaker: Frank J. Colucci, Associate Professor of Political Science, Purdue University Northwest

Constitutional Studies Students
Students were chosen to assist with the 2020 Constitution Symposium and to do an independent study course on Constitutional Studies. They will be researching the 2020 Constitution Symposium topic. Constitutional Studies Students at the 2020 Constitution Symposium (seated left to right): Ethan Morris, Jillian Sauer, Emily Compton, and Allie Just.

Speaker in front of a Bellarmine Podium next to four panelists

The 2020 Constitution Symposium is supported by the Jack Miller Center.

2019 — Originalism’s Promise: A Natural Law Account of the American Constitution

Speaker: Lee J. Strang, Visiting Fellow, James Madison Program at Princeton University and the John W. Stoepler Professor of Law & Values, University of Toledo College of Law

Constitutional Studies Students
These students were chosen to assist with the 2019 Constitution Symposium and to do an independent study course on Constitutional Studies. They will be researching the 2019 Constitution Symposium topic. Constitutional Studies Students at the 2019 Constitution Symposium (seated left to right): Robert Ranney, Kayla Martin, Emily Compton, and Allie Just.

political science club

2018 – Madison’s Constitution in a Partisan Era

Panelists:

  • Jordan Harris, Co-Executive Director of Pegasus Institute, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Josh Crawford, Co-Executive Director of Pegasus Institute, Louisville, Kentucky

2017 – Hamilton: An American Musical - Culture, Politics, Education, and History

Panelists:

  • Bethany Morse, Librarian, Oldham County Public Library and Bellarmine University Alumna
  • Tara E. Anderson, Contributing Editor, 89.3 WFPL, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Janelle Hunnicut, Co-Artistic Director, Smoked Apple Theater Group, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Eugene J. Halus, Jr., Director of Education, Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

2016 – The Will of the People, the Will of the People’s Agents, or the Will of Judges: Reflections on Recent Constitutional Interpretations

Speaker: William E. Thro, General Counsel, University of Kentucky, Adjunct Professor, University of Kentucky College of Law

2015 – The President’s Executive Power: When is it Constitutional?

Panelists:

  • Eric P. Roorda, Professor of History, Bellarmine University
  • Lee R. Remington, Associate Professor of Political Science, Bellarmine University
  • Jane Lollis, Attorney at Law, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Trent C. Apple, Attorney at Law and Educator, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Paul E. Salamanca, Professor of Law, University of Kentucky

2014 – The U.S. Constitution: Foundations and Controversies

Panelists:

  • Evanthia Speliotis, Professor of Philosophy, Bellarmine University
  • Lee R. Remington, Associate Professor of Political Science, Bellarmine University
  • Jane Lollis, Attorney at Law, Louisville, Kentucky 
  • Cedric Merlin Powell, Professor of Law, University of Louisville
  • Paul E. Salamanca, Professor of Law, University of Kentucky

Constitution Symposiums Supporters

Alexander Hamilton Historical Society of Kentucky

Jack Miller Center