The Constitution of the United States is the world’s oldest written charter for a national government still in use today.
It was signed on today’s date in 1787, and September 17th has become Constitution Day.
Northern Michigan University marked the occasion with a constitutional forum.
Political science faculty members held a discussion with students and other residents about controversial constitutional issues.
Dr. Ruth Watry, an associate professor, addressed the recent Defense of Marriage Act case before the U.S. Supreme Court. “The Defense of Marriage Act has a section that says that the federal government will not recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and the Supreme Court found this unconstitutional last June, that it’s a denial of equal protection if some marriages are recognized and other marriages are not.”
The forum also addressed the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down part of the Voting Rights Act and the Citizens United case about independent political spending by corporations and labor unions.
“I had some of my Civil Rights and Liberty students here,” Watry said. “I’m one of those people who gets Supreme Court decisions e-mailed to me, and I think it’s very important that people understand our Constitution and how it’s done such an incredible job.”
Constitution Day is a federal holiday, although federal employees don’t receive time off from work for it.
The federal law that created the holiday in 2004 also requires publicly-funded schools of any kind to provide programs about the history of the Constitution on that day.