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Deepening Our Understanding of Citizenship

Event (March 28): Going A-Courting: The Senate, the Presidency, and the Gorsuch Confirmation Process

The Constitution calls for the president to nominate Supreme Court justices, but requires “the advice and consent of the Senate” to appoint them. What standards ought to guide senators in giving that consent? How much deference should the Senate show to the president’s choice? Is there a meaningful distinction today between partisan politics and competing visions for how a justice fulfills his duties? How does the confirmation process exemplify both the distinct powers and responsibilities of the different branches and the coordination required for functional government?

Join AEI on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 for a conversation with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, followed by a panel of experts, who will discuss the confirmation process of Judge Neil Gorsuch in light of these questions.

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Event: Making citizens: A ‘Sputnik moment’ for civic education?

Did the 2016 presidential election represent a “Sputnik moment” for civic education? Voices on the right and left critiqued the recent election as proof of the failure of civic education — what the Founding Fathers and succeeding generations argued was the basic purpose of education. But if we revitalize civic education, we need to understand what has gone wrong and how current classroom, state, and national policies are shaping not just civic education, but the very principles of what it means to be a citizen capable of reflective self-government.

Please join AEI as a panel of educators and scholars discuss the state of civic education at the primary and secondary education levels and how our education system can become serious about making citizens once more.

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Event: The Imperial Presidency in the Age of Trump

Executive power has expanded so steadily under both Republican and Democratic presidents that the epithet “imperial” is regularly applied to the presidency. President Obama’s aggressive use of unilateral powers led many conservatives to call for a more assertive Congress and Supreme Court to curtail this expansive employment of executive authority. But these same conservatives now face a new president, Donald Trump, who appears equally prepared to use the powers of the bully pulpit to achieve his policy goals.

Is the imperial presidency now a permanent fact of American life? How should today’s constitutionalist think about the presidency’s role in governance at home and in light of America’s role in the world? Join AEI for a timely discussion on the foundations and proper use of presidential power.

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Fifth Annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture with Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey: Terrorism and the Bill of Rights

The United States finds itself the target of terrorists who are incited by, and think their actions justified by, their religious beliefs. This has created a profound tension between the country’s commitment to religious freedom and the tools the government uses to provide its citizens security. Is the tension real? Does the Bill of Rights prevent the government from adopting measures necessary to keep our homes, places of business, and public spaces safe?

Please join us for the annual Walter Berns Constitution Day lecture as Michael B. Mukasey, former US district judge and US attorney general, explores whether Americans have had to surrender fundamental rights so their country can protect itself from Islamist terrorism.

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2015 Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture: The Magna Carta, Due Process, and Administrative Power

Magna Carta is important, argued Philip Hamburger of Columbia Law School recently at AEI, not so much for what it says, but for what it reveals about the enduring danger of absolute power and the repeated constitutional responses in common law countries of its substitute, rule under law. Not only does Magna Carta allow us to trace the ebb and flow of absolute power and the law, but it also allows a proper understanding of due process of law.

Where today due process is most often thought of as a procedural protection for happenings in court, Hamburger invoked Magna Carta to show that due process is meant to also apply to outside the court, specifically administrative tribunals within administrative agencies. Tracing the development of due process from Magna Carta’s Article 39 through a series of 14th century statutes to the Fifth Amendment in the US Constitution, Hamburger argued that the Constitution’s due process clause was designed primarily to be an obstacle to administrative or extralegal adjudication. The prevalence of administrative power today, he concluded, denotes a practical evasion of due process and an evisceration of the entire concept, and that poses the gravest threat to the Bill of Rights.

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As Far As Republican Principles Will Admit: In Honor of Martin Diamond

When Martin Diamond decided the time had come to collect his essays of some twenty years into a single volume, he selected as its title, As Far as Republican Principles Will Admit. That selection was the only piece of guidance he left for those whose task it became to finish the project after his sudden and tragic death in 1977. But, as Diamond would have insisted, it was guidance enough. He composed titles for his essays with the utmost care and deliberation well before he began writing them, because an essay’s title was, for him, its end or purpose—its reason for being written. And just as the end or purpose of a political institution, when fully elaborated, explains every facet of its behavior, so the title of a piece, he insisted, should suggest or imply its entire argument.

The essays in this volume, then, have been selected and arranged to elucidate the author’s carefully and deliberately chosen title. As Diamond foresaw, once we have explored the title’s meaning we do indeed have a glimpse of his full argument about the nature of the American political order.

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The Return of ROTC to New York City

The Return of ROTC to New York City
By Cheryl Miller
(October 2013)

Last month, the US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) returned to the City College of New York after a 41-year absence. At the official signing ceremony last May, former secretary of state and retired general Colin Powell—arguably the college’s most famous alum and a graduate of Army ROTC—noted the significance of the reconciliation. In bringing ROTC back to campus, General Powell said, the college was recognizing that “we may disagree with the politics or the policies of it all but military service is honorable.”

General Powell’s words were a reminder of ROTC’s tumultuous history at City College and its forced ouster during the firestorm of student protests over the Vietnam War. Like several other prominent schools—among them, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia University—City College had hosted one of the earliest ROTC programs in the nation, graduating its first class in 1917. But this collaboration ended during the Vietnam era after some schools voted to bar the college-based training program for military officers from campus. Later opposition to US policy on gays in the military, particularly “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), reinforced the schools’ bans and led to the removal of more ROTC programs, including at one of City College’s sister schools, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

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Toward a More Perfect Union: In Honor of Herbert J. Storing

Herbert J. Storing (1928–77) was one of America’s most distinguished political scientists and political theorists. He spent most of his professional life at the University of Chicago, and was, at the time of his death, Robert K. Gooch Professor of Government at the University of Virginia. His books include What Country Have I?: Political Writings by Black Americans (1970), The Complete Anti-Federalist (1981), and What the Anti-Federalists Were For (1981).

Many of Storing’s essays were collected in 1995 for AEI’s Landmarks in Contemporary Political Thought series. The 24 essays presented here were written between the early 1960s and his death in 1977. They are grouped in sections on the legacy of the Founding Fathers, race relations, rights and the public interest, bureaucracy and big government, statesmanship and the presidency, and liberal education. 

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2012 Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture: Spending, Public Debt, and Constitutional Design

Read the remarks given by Michael W. McConnell, Richard & Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, at the 2012 Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture: “Spending, Public Debt, and Constitutional Design.”

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About Walter Berns

A scholar of political philosophy and constitutional law, Walter Berns has written extensively on American government and politics in both professional and popular journals. He is the John M. Olin University Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University and served as a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He has also taught at Louisiana State University, Yale University, Cornell University, Colgate University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Chicago. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in political science at the University of Chicago and has published many works on American government and society. His articles have also appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Commentary, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Berns served on the National Council on the Humanities from 1982 to 1988 and the Council of Scholars in the Library of Congress from 1981 to 1985. He was also a delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2005.

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Monumental Fights: The Role of Memorials in Civic Life

Over the past year, the recently dedicated Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Memorial and the planned Eisenhower Memorial have renewed controversy about the meaning and purpose of public memorials. What do America’s memorials and monuments tell us about our nation and our identity as citizens? How should we memorialize past events and individuals?

At an event on Friday, May 18, 2012, that was co-sponsored by AEI’s Program on American Citizenship and theNational Civic Art Society, a distinguished panel discussed the important role of public memorials in civic life, using the recent controversies over the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Memorial and the proposed Eisenhower Memorial to guide the conversation.

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Walter Berns and the Constitution: A Celebration

In mid-September 2011, as part of AEI’s Program on American Citizenship, we celebrated Constitution Day (September 17), the day thirty-nine members of the Constitutional Convention signed the draft constitution. In conjunction with that remembrance, we thought it appropriate to honor our longtime colleague and friend Walter Berns with a panel dedicated to discussing his scholarship on the Constitution and the American regime it supports.

What follows are the formal presentations given by Jeremy A. Rabkin (professor, George Mason University School of Law), Leon R. Kass (Madden-Jewett Chair, AEI), and Christopher DeMuth (former president, AEI, and distinguished fellow, Hudson Institute), as they discussed Walter’s contribution to the study of the Constitution. Following these presentations is a brief set of remarks made by Professor Berns at the conclusion of the event.

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AEI Report: ROTC in New York City

UNDERSERVED
A Case Study of ROTC in New York City

By Cheryl Miller
(May 4, 2011)

The post-9/11 moment and the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy have found students, faculty, and administrators newly supportive of the military and ROTC. Already Harvard and Columbia University have reestablished ties with the Navy ROTC, and other elite schools—Stanford and Yale—look poised to follow.

As welcome as these changes are, however, the lifting of elite-school bans against the ROTC will be a lost opportunity unless the military and civilian leadership push for more substantive changes to the ROTC program, broadening its base and seeking more geographic and institutional diversity.

View the full report as a PDF

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DIALOGUE ON ISLAM IN AMERICA

With Peter Skerry of Boston College—one of the nation’s leading experts on immigration and assimilation—we have established a private working group to address the challenges of Muslim integration. This project seeks to bring together a select group of interested and knowledgeable individuals (Muslims and non‐Muslims) to explore areas of difference as well as common perspectives.

ARTICLES & COMMENTARY

Peter Skerry, “The Muslim-American Muddle,” National Affairs, Fall 2011. A decade after 9/11, America has reached a political and intellectual stalemate regarding the Muslims in its midst. Many Americans continue to fear their Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens, if not as potential terrorists then as terrorist sympathizers—or, more generally, as the bearers of an alien culture shared by America’s enemies.

Peter Skerry and Gary Schmitt, “Why won’t media—or Muslims—address Islamism in America?,” Christian Science Monitor, March 10, 2011. America’s freedoms aren’t in danger from Islamists. But we can’t ignore Islamist influences on Muslim-American organizations. It is not enough for Muslims here simply to assert their rights but also to address questions whose continued neglect fuels understandable anxieties.

Peter Skerry and Gary Schmitt, “Silence from Muslim-Americans,” Boston Globe, January 29, 2011. Amid the uproar earlier this month over the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, the secularist governor of the Pakistani province of Punjab, Muslim-American organizations have been largely silent. At a time when mainstream Muslim leaders have been trying to demonstrate their embrace of religious tolerance and pluralism to their fellow Americans, few have had a word to say about this People’s Party leader whose denunciation of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law led to his death at the hands of a Muslim zealot—a zealot who has since been celebrated by fundamentalists around the globe.

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MAKING ROTC A NATIONAL PROGRAM AGAIN

This project considers the question of whether the military has narrowed, to its detriment, the demographic pool from which it draws its young officers and how this affects civil‐military relations over time.

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)—the principal source for the recruitment of military officers—has lost its “national” character, becoming increasingly Southern and rural. Not only have elite colleges and universities kept ROTC programs off their campuses—ignoring their own pre-Vietnam War tradition of providing the military with class after class of military officers—so too has the military virtually dropped out of many major metropolitan areas to the detriment of its ability to recruit from a diverse and talented segment of America’s youth.  ROTC, properly understood, provides a critical link between the professional military and the nation at large—a link that is increasingly tenuous and needs to be maintained if citizens are to understand the military’s role in a democracy and, in turn, the military is properly attuned to the values and principles of the citizenry it serves.

To bring attention to this vital issue, we released a major report on the status of ROTC in America’s largest and most diverse urban center: New York City.  Our goal is to provide research supporting a renewed look at the ROTC’s development and specific policy proposals to university administrators, key members of Congress, and the executive branch.

REPORTS & COMMENTARY

Cheryl Miller and Jonathan E. Hillman, “How to Get More Ivy Leaguers into ROTC,” Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2011. The chief obstacle to ROTC’s expansion today is not antimilitary sentiment but a Pentagon that prefers to allocate its resources to surer recruiting prospects, primarily in the South and the Midwest.

Cheryl Miller, Underserved: A Case Study of ROTC in New York City, a report of the AEI Program on American Citizenship,  May 2011. With over 8 million residents and the largest university student population of any city in the United States, New York City demonstrates the challenges faced by urban ROTC programs—and their great potential.

Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller, “Semper Phi,” The Weekly Standard, December 23, 2010. With the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, elite colleges now have a chance to make good on their promises and bring the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) back to campus.

Cheryl Miller, “The Other ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” The Weekly Standard, November 13, 2010. Is the Solomon Amendment a dead letter? The statute, enacted in 1996, forbids federal funding to universities that prohibit military recruiters or Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) units from their campuses. Yet today, nearly 15 years since the amendment’s passage—and despite President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to “vigorously enforce” the law—ROTC is still absent from some of the nation’s most selective schools.

Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller, “The Military Should Mirror the Nation,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2010. The nearly three million members of the U.S. Armed Forces have been at war for nearly a decade. While combat troops are being withdrawn from Iraq, surge forces are still deploying in Afghanistan and many soldiers are on their second or third tour of duty. Americans hold this service and sacrifice in high regard–but they do so increasingly from a distance. This is a threat to our country’s civic ethic of equal sacrifice.

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MAKING PATRIOTS: IN HONOR OF WALTER BERNS

In mid-September 2011, AEI’s Program on American Citizenship celebrated Constitution Day (September 17), the day thirty-nine members of the Constitutional Convention signed the draft constitution. In conjunction with that remembrance, we thought it appropriate to honor our longtime colleague and friend Walter Berns with a panel dedicated to discussing his scholarship on the Constitution and the American regime it supports.

At the event, AEI president Arthur Brooks announced that henceforth the Citizenship Program’s annual Constitution Day celebration will be named in honor of Walter Berns in appreciation of his scholarly legacy in this field and his many years of contributing to the work of the American Enterprise Institute as a resident scholar.

ABOUT WALTER BERNS

A scholar of political philosophy and constitutional law, Walter Berns has written extensively on American government and politics in both professional and popular journals. He is the John M. Olin University Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University and served as a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He has also taught at Louisiana State University, Yale University, Cornell University, Colgate University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Chicago. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in political science at the University of Chicago and has published many works on American government and society. His articles have also appeared in the Atlantic MonthlyCommentary, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Berns served on the National Council on the Humanities from 1982 to 1988 and the Council of Scholars in the Library of Congress from 1981 to 1985. He was also a delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2005.

PUBLICATIONS AND EVENTS:

Walter Berns and the Constitution: A Celebration,” January, 2012. Read the formal presentations given by Jeremy A. Rabkin (professor, George Mason University School of Law), Leon R. Kass (Madden-Jewett Chair, AEI), and Christopher DeMuth (former president, AEI, and distinguished fellow, Hudson Institute) as they discussed Walter’s contributions to the study of the Constitution. Following these presentations is a brief set of remarks made by Professor Berns at the conclusion of the event.

Leon R. Kass, “Teacher and Patriot,” September 27, 2011. It is absolutely fitting and proper to honor Walter Berns in connection with Constitution Day. The U.S. Constitution, and the underlying ideas and ideals of “constitutionalism,” have been the central focus of Walter’s intellectual life.

Walter Berns and the Constitution: A Celebration of the Constitution, with Opening Remarks by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, September 20, 2011. For more than fifty years, Walter Berns has analyzed the American constitutional order with insight and profundity.  It is only fitting that as we mark Constitution Day—September 17, the day thirty-nine members of the Constitutional Convention signed the draft constitution—we examine his work on the meaning of the Constitution and the American regime it supports.  At this event, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave opening remarks in celebration of the Constitution, and Leon R. Kass (Madden-Jewett Chair, AEI), Jeremy A. Rabkin (Professor, George Mason University School of Law), and Christopher Demuth (D.C. Searle Senior Fellow, AEI) discussed Walter Berns’s lasting contribution to constitutional studies.

Karlyn Bowman and Andrew Rugg, “Polls on Patriotism and Military Service, 2010,” AEI Outlook, June 30, 2010. This study, a compilation of public opinion data on patriotism, examines what it means to be a patriot and what people think about military service and the draft. A special section looks at young people’s attitudes on these topics. The study includes all of the latest polling data as well as important historical trends for comparative purposes.

Walter Berns, “Lincoln at Two Hundred,” Bradley Lecture, February 9, 2009. Abraham Lincoln was the greatest of our presidents. He saved the Union, which made it possible for him to free the slaves. But he did more than this; without him we probably would have had no reason to celebrate the bicentennial first of the Declaration of Independence and then of the Constitution. It is therefore altogether fitting, Walter Berns said in the fifth in the 2008-2009 Bradley Lecture Series on February 9, that we mark the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.

Walter Berns, “From the Ashes Comes the Rebirth of Patriotism,” AEI Outlook, October 1, 2001. The terrorist attacks of September 11 have inspired a greater outpouring of patriotism by the American people than have many previous wars, and numerous displays of the American flag symbolize that patriotism. The flag represents more than free speech; it reminds us of those who fought before us to preserve our freedom.

Walter Berns, “On Patriotism,” Bradley Lecture, September 16, 1996. No one is born loving his country; such love is not natural, but has to be taught, or inculcated, or somehow acquired. A person may not even be born loving himself, but he soon enough learns to do so, and, unless something is done about it, he will continue to do so, and in a manner that makes a concern for country and fellow countrymen—or anyone other than himself—difficult if not impossible. The problem is as old as politics, and we Americans are not exempt from having to deal with it.

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