Painting by Gerd Altmann of the signing of the US Constitution.

2019 Constitution Day Events

To mark the day, a number of talks and presentations will take place on the UW campus during the month of September. All events are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 18

Constitutional Law I Class
10:30–11:50 a.m., Room 2211 Law School Building

This class is an introduction to the basic constitutional structure of government in the United States. We will study this through a historical-legal analysis of how various actors have understood and interpreted constitutional questions about the allocation of power and authority in the United States. Important to our study will be an appreciation of the roles of different American institutions, as well as the different interpretive approaches that individuals have taken in reading the Constitution, and how these have all changed (or not changed) over time. Read the full course description.

Wednesday, September 18

Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom
Noon–1:15 p.m., Lubar Commons (Room 7200 Law School)

Ideas & Innovations Speaker Sarah Seo, Associate Professor, University of Iowa College of Law

Abstract: Policing the Open Road is about how the introduction of a technological shock in American society—the mass adoption of cars—transformed American governance, policing, criminal procedure, and the relationship between individual citizens and the state. The overarching argument posits that all of these changes responded to the necessity of disciplining “law-abiding” citizen-drivers, which raised a profound and troubling question: What did freedom mean in a modern, automotive society that policed all its citizens? Ultimately, the law’s solution to the potential arbitrary policing of “Everyman,” I argue, further enabled and exacerbated the discriminatory policing of racial minorities. I’m circulating Chapter 4 of the book, “It Could Happen to You,” which offers an alternative account of the Warren Court’s due process revolution by juxtaposing the Court’s landmark cases with its car cases.

Sponsors: University of Wisconsin Law School, Institute for Legal Studies

Thursday, September 19

The Russian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights: Conflicting Conceptions of Sovereignty in Strasbourg and St. Petersburg
Noon–1:15 p.m., Lubar Commons (Room 7200 Law School)

Global Legal Studies Center Speaker Professor Jeffrey Kahn, SMU Dedman School of Law

More information »

Friday, September 20

The Founding Fathers and Public Leadership Conference
11 a.m.–3:30 p.m., Lowell Center, 610 Langdon St.

The Tommy G. Thompson Center will be putting on a conference examining the beliefs and insight of the founding fathers as they pertain to public leadership in America. The Thompson Center will be bringing in a large number of panelists with profound expertise to examine the mindsets of Franklin, Madison, Adams, Marshall, Dickenson, Douglas, and many other framers of America’s beginnings.

Conference website »

Sponsors: Tommy G. Thompson Center & Institute for Legal Studies

Constitutional Resources
Constitution of the United States

Produced by the National Archives and Records Administration, this site includes a transcript of the Constitution, images of the original document and other facts and background information.

Teaching with documents: observing Constitution Day

Also produced by the National Archives and Records Administration, this site offers activities, lesson plans and other information for teachers and students at all levels.

National Constitution Center: Constitution Day

This site is produced by the National Constitution Center, and provides more information about Constitution Day along with activities, lesson plans and other resources.

Center for the Study of the American Constitution

This non-profit, non-partisan center is dedicated to serving scholars, educators, and students who are interested in the American Constitution in its historical context.

President George W. Bush signed a bill on December 8, 2004 (Public Law 108-447) that designates every September 17 as Constitution Day. All institutions of higher education that receive federal funding are required to prepare a program to inform students about the U.S. Constitution.