Each year, Springfield College joins colleges and universities across the country in observing Constitution Day. On Sept. 17, 1787, delegates attending the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the final draft of the United States Constitution after four months of debate, drafting, and revision. Since 2004, all schools receiving federal funds have observed Constitution Day in some form during the week of Sept. 17.
This year's program was presented by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences with support from the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Provost. The virtual event was titled "The Meaning of the Constitution in 2021."
The evening helped attendees understand the following questions: Can the government require you to wear a mask and get a COVID vaccine? Who should determine your rights related to cell phones, social media, and speech in general? What rights do you have when a police officer confronts you?
To guide individuals through these questions, three experts in the legal field discussed the ways that the Constitution has helped us organize our society and review the limits of this document in resolving challenges.
- R. Kent Newmyer, PhD, Professor of Law and History at the University of Connecticut School of Law
- Hon. Barry F. Armata, JD, Connecticut Superior Court Judge
- José A. Santos, JD, Consultant and Former Vice President and General Counsel at Pratt & Whitney and at Collins Aerospace (formerly Hamilton Sundstrand)
Thomas Carty, PhD, Springfield College professor of history and prelaw advisor, moderated the discussion and Q&A.
For more than 200 years, people in the United States have argued about similar questions, and often turned to the Constitution for answers. The people who wrote the document called the Constitution "the supreme law of the land." But who has the right to decide what the Constitution says and means? Who has the "last word"? The Supreme Court? Congress? The president? The people? You?