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

2021 –February Constitution Symposium 

(a virtual lecture)

“Diverse Originalism”
Speaker: Christina Mulligan, Vice Dean & Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School

Constitutional Studies Students
Students were chosen to assist with the 2021 Constitution Symposium and to do an independent study course on Constitutional Studies. They will be researching the 2021 Constitution Symposium topic.  2021 Constitutional Studies Students are: Olivia Atkinson, Rhianna Clemons, Aubrey Kirchhoff, and Molly Rovinski.

bellarminetalk2

Above are the Constitutional Studies Students at the 2021 Constitution Symposium along with the speaker, Christina Mulligan, and Jenna Murnan, Political Science Club President and Symposium participant.

“This program has allowed me to look at the Constitution critically and carefully through a different lens.  It is not often that students get to exchange ideas with the author of the article you read.” – Rhianna Clemons, Constitutional Studies Student

The 2021 Constitution Symposium is supported by the Jack Miller Center.

 

2020 – Constitution Day Speech

(a virtual lecture sponsored by the Constitution Symposium)

Headshot of Ilan Wurman

“The Second Founding: An Introduction to the Fourteenth Amendment”
Speaker: Ilan Wurman, Associate Professor of Law, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University

This event was supported by the Jack Miller Center.

"Ilan Wurman’s Constitution Day presentation focused on the subject of the Fourteenth Amendment. This lecture was educational, but also an interesting subject to focus on during a time that is heavily focused on civil rights. Wurman was an articulate and knowledgeable guest speaker. His presentation was on the topic of a debate I had never heard of or learned anything about. The interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment in the lens of an originalist versus one who sees the Constitution as a living document results in different implementations of the amendment. Wurman did an excellent job of establishing the conflict between the two styles of interpreting the amendment and then explaining his perspective."  -- Megan Burger, Political Science Major

Past 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 Symposium Resources

For those who were not able to attend our past events, below is a list of resources.

Diverse Originalism     

  • “Diverse Originalism” by Christina Mulligan in University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law
  • A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism by Ilan Wurman
  • Constitutional Redemption: Political Faith in an Unjust World by Jack M. Balkin

Fourteenth Amendment Meaning

  • The Second Founding: An Introduction to the Fourteenth Amendment by Ilan Wurman

Liberty Debates

  • Justice Kennedy's Jurisprudence: The Full and Necessary Meaning of Liberty by Frank J. Colucci
  • A More or Less Perfect Union, A Personal Exploration by Judge Douglas Ginsburg (documentary)
  • Legality by Scott J. Shapiro

Natural Law Constitutionalism

  • Originalism's Promise: A Natural Law Account of the American Constitution by Lee J. Strang

James Madison’s Constitutionalism

  • The Accessible Federalist: A Modern English Translation of 16 Key Federalist Papers Adapted, with Introduction, by S. Adam Seagrave

Alexander Hamilton

  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  • Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter

Constitutional Interpretations

  • Cosmic Constitutional Theory: Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance by J. Harvie Wilkinson III

Executive Power

  • Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy, and Accountability (Revised, Updated Edition) by Mark J. Rozell & Mitchel A. Sollenberger

Constitutional Foundations and Controversies

  • America's Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amar
  • Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People by Randy E. Barnett

Constitution Symposiums Supporters

Alexander Hamilton Historical Society of Kentucky

Jack Miller Center