<< Home

Constitution Day

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.

Read More...

When Our Country Came of Age: An Argument for Constitution Day

In the history of man there’s never been a legal order that has provided the same level of stability, prosperity and popular legitimacy as the US Constitution.

For ten-plus years, the republic was governed by the Articles of Confederation; a document ineffective in delivering those very rights, international and domestic, that the citizens of the 13 states had gone to war with the British crown to secure. While never as exciting as the ends of government expressed in the Declaration, the Constitution has nevertheless been the stolid means for securing those ends for more than two centuries. For as problematic as we might find politics and government today, in the history of man there’s never been a legal order that has provided the same level of stability, prosperity and popular legitimacy as the US Constitution.

Read More...

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.

Read More...

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

Is the Magna Carta still relevant? By the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell was already allegedly declaring, “Magna Carta, Magna Farta.” Numerous legal commentators today remain nearly as skeptical of its significance. Although no constitutional document is inherently timeless, Magna Carta stands as a reminder that some constitutional dangers do endure.

Please join us for the fourth annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture on Thursday, September 17, as Philip Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, considers recurring threats to the due process of law from extralegal power — what once was called prerogative power and today is called administrative power.

Read More...

Announcing WalterBerns.org

Tonight, we celebrate the second annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture, which was established by AEI’s Program on American Citizenship to honor Walter’s scholarship on the Constitution and America’s founding principles.

Read More...

Slavery and the Constitution: An immoral compromise?

2013 marks both the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation as well as the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In an effort to understand the complex legacy of slavery from our nation’s founding, AEI’s Program on American Citizenship will host the second annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture, featuring Michael Zuckert, professor at the University of Notre Dame. The lecture, “Slavery and the Constitution: An immoral compromise?” will examine the “pro-” and “anti-slavery” interpretations of the Constitutional Convention.

Read More...

2012 Walter Berns Constitution Day lecture


On September 13, 2012, Michael W. McConnell, Richard & Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, delivered the 2012 Walter Berns Constitution Day lecture at AEI with an address entitled “Spending, Public Debt, and Constitutional Design.” If you missed the event, you won’t want to miss reading Professor McConnell’s remarks, which have recently been published by the Program on American Citizenship.

Read More...

Born in the U.S.A.

Writing earlier this week in the Los Angeles Times in celebration of the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar points out just how extraordinary and influential an event the creation of our Constitution was–and is.

Read More...

Constitution Day event re-cap


Happy Constitution Day! In honor of the 225th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, on Thursday, the Program on American Citizenship hosted the first annual Walter Berns Constitution Day lecture: “Spending, public debt, and constitutional design: Remarks by Michael W. McConnell.”

Read More...

Upcoming event: Spending, public debt and constitutional design

In honor of the 225th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, the Program on American Citizenship will celebrate Constitution Day with a lecture by Michael W. McConnell, Richard & Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School. This event is the first in a lecture series named for distinguished scholar Walter Berns.

Read More...

Event Re-Cap: Walter Berns and the Constitution

For its first annual Constitution Day event, the AEI Program on American Citizenship welcomed a full audience today to celebrate the work of Walter Berns on the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave opening remarks, focusing on the need to “understand the Constitution as law rather than aspiration.” Justice Scalia ended his remarks by quoting Berns: the goal is not, he said, “to keep the Constitution in tune with the times but, rather, to keep the times, to the extent possible, in tune with the Constitution.” Jeremy A. Rabkin (George Mason University School of Law) commented on Berns’s 1957 book Freedom, Virtue, and the First Amendment, which discusses the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and concludes that freedom by itself is not sufficient. Leon R. Kass (AEI) focused on similar themes, particularly noting Berns’s work on patriotism. Quoting Berns, Kass argued that patriots “are not formed” but instead “must be educated” and that this “education of the heart is more the work of poets than of philosophers and statesmen, and this is especially true for the making of patriots.” Christopher DeMuth (AEI) discussed Berns’s writings on the central importance of the nation-state in creating attached citizens and concluded that “there is no better way to celebrate Constitution Day than to read Walter Berns.” At the conclusion of the event, Berns himself said a few words, expressing his deep appreciation for the Constitution and the remarkable men who created it, concluding that America is truly an “extraordinary place.”

More information–including more video–can be found at the event website: Walter Berns and the Constitution: A Celebration of the Constitution, with Opening Remarks by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Read More...

Upcoming Event: Walter Berns and the Constitution–A Celebration of the Constitution, with Opening Remarks by Justice Antonin Scalia

Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Time: 12:30 PM — 2:00 PM
Location: Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20036

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 this year’s 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 will give 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) will discuss Walter Berns’s lasting contribution to constitutional studies.

Register at AEI.

Read More...
AEI