Constitutional scholar Evan Bernick
, a member of the Northern Illinois University Law faculty, will speak at Bellarmine University in its annual commemoration
of Constitution Day on Friday, September 24, at 3 p.m. in Pasteur Hall 207.
Bernick’s scholarship covers a range of topics, including constitutional law, philosophy of law, social movements and law enforcement. His work has been published in journals including the Georgetown Law Journal, the Notre Dame Law Review
and the George Mason Law Review.
The topic of his lecture at Bellarmine will be “Is Constitution Day Worth Celebrating?” Bernick will argue that we should recognize the profound limitations of the 1787 Constitution while celebrating the freedom struggles that found
inspiration in its core promises and undertook some of the most profoundly important moral projects in human history. He will contend that the abolitionist movement and the early Republican Party from which it emerged made the Constitution we have
today worth celebrating by making possible the ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Bernick believes that the promises of the Fourteenth Amendment in particular have gone unfulfilled, in part because the Supreme Court
has often neglected their original meaning and purpose. Drawing upon his forthcoming book, “The Original Fourteenth Amendment: Its Letter and Spirit” (with Professor Randy Barnett), Bernick will summarize these judicial failures and sketch
a path forward.
Bernick joined the Northern Illinois University Law faculty as an assistant professor in 2021, teaching courses in constitutional law, criminal law, criminal procedure, administrative law and legislation. From 2020 to 2021, he was a visiting professor
at the Georgetown University Law Center and the executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution. Before that, he served as a clerk to Judge Diane S. Sykes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. From 2017 to
2019, he was a visiting lecturer at Georgetown and a resident fellow of the Center for the Constitution. Previously, he has worked for conservative and libertarian think tanks including The Cato Institute and The Heritage Foundation.
The event is free and open to the public. Face coverings are required indoors, and – as a campus with a COVID-19 vaccination requirement – the university asks visitors to be vaccinated.
The lecture is sponsored by the university’s Constitution Symposium
which organizes 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. This event was supported by the Jack Miller Center.
Constitution Day is celebrated annually on September 17 to honor the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. In 2004, Congress introduced legislation directing all educational institutions receiving federal funds to host an educational
program in the week surrounding Constitution Day.