Batten School, Center for Politics, Politics Department Plan Constitution Day Events

September 14, 2011

UPDATED, September 15, 8:50 a.m., with room assignment for John Dinan's Sept. 22 talk.

September 14, 2011 — During the next two weeks, the University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Center for Politics and the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics in the College of Arts & Sciences will host a series of events to honor Constitution Day.

The Batten School and the Center for Politics will hold a screening of "The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today" on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Garrett Hall's Great Room. Jay Rosenstein, who wrote, produced and directed the film, will speak and answer questions. The film tells the story of the pivotal McCollum v. Board of Education case, which in 1948 separated church and state in public schools. The event is free and open to the public. (To RSVP, click here.)

"We are happy, once again, to be able to co-sponsor a major Constitution Day event with the Center for Politics," said Jill Rockwell, the Batten School's assistant dean for student services. "The screening of this important award-winning film reflects both the spirit of Constitution Day and our respective missions of educating thoughtful leaders who are engaged in the public arena."

Additionally, the politics department's Program in Constitutionalism and Democracy has organized a lecture series, supported by a grant from the Jack Miller Center of Philadelphia and the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation of Nashville.

Universities that receive federal funds are required by law to hold Constitution Day programs. The foundations that provided support for the lecture series "have decided to not just meet the letter, but the spirit of law, by encouraging important and serious programs for understanding the Constitution," said politics professor James Ceaser, the program's director. The foundations supplied several hundred pocket-sized copies of the Constitution for distribution in conjunction with the lecture series.

On Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. in Clark Hall, room 107, John Dinan, a professor of political science at Wake Forest University, will give a lecture, "From Health Care to Medical Marijuana to Light Bulbs: State Challenges to Federal Directives and the Safeguards of American Federalism." He will also speak to students in the "American Political Tradition" class at 9 a.m. Friday in Jefferson Hall on the West Range. Dinan is a well-known scholar on federalism in the U.S. Constitution and completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at U.Va.

Gary McDowell, who teaches at the University of Richmond, will hold a lunchtime seminar in the Law School's Withers-Brown Hall, room 119, on Sept. 23 at noon. He will discuss his recently published book, "The Language of Law and the Foundations of American Constitutionalism." Reservations are required; e-mail Matt Sitman at

On Sept. 28 at 9 a.m. in Jefferson Hall, James Stern, a research fellow professor at the Law School, will deliver a lecture, "Debates in Constitutional Interpretation." Stern clerked last year for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Ceaser said he hopes the talks will spark serious inquiry into the Constitution and its origins and purposes, and help answer the Jack Miller Center's question for this year's national Constitution Day, "What are the limits of federal power in our political system?"

All of the events are open to students, faculty and the general public.

— By Kate Colwell

Media Contact

H. Brevy Cannon

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications