Saturday, July 17, 2010

Constitution 101

What do small-town Iowans do on a hot July night?  If you said skinny dipping or cow tipping you'd be wrong (and you need to go back to your production company in L.A.).  For about 80 people in Jones County last Thursday the answer was "attend a lecture on the U.S. Constitution."

Hosted by the Jones County 9.12 Project, Lee J. Strang, Professor of Law gave a presentation he called "Constitution 101."  The event was free and open to the public.  Professor Strang currently teaches at The University of Toledo (Ohio) College of Law but is originally from Northeast Iowa and is a graduate of the University of Iowa.

The presentation consisted of one hour of lecture followed by one hour of questions and answers.  The lecture was a brief history of the Constitution.  Strang started with the Constitution's lineage to the ancient Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian traditions as well as English institutions and common law.  He then moved on to the more immediate precursors to the Constitution, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Second Continental Congress, and the Articles of Confederation.

Professor Strang ran through some of the unique aspects of the U.S. Constitution.  One unique aspect that we might not think about, for instance, is its "writtenness."  Our Constitution, unlike the English one, is actually written down, making it harder to change on a whim.  It defines a limited government of enumerated powers.  It has separation of powers within the federal government, checks and balances, and it divides powers with federalism.

The lecture was informative and Strang was an excellent speaker.  The audience was engaged and the question and answer period ran well over the one hour allotted.  (It was still going when I left, but I wanted to get home to tuck my boys in.)  Event organizers were pleased with the turnout.

Kudos to Professor Strang for donating his time and talents to help educate the general public about the Constitution.  Thanks also to Jenn and Freddie Jones and the other members of the Jones County 9.12 Project who worked hard to put this event together.

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