September 09, 2016

Constitution-related events feature debate, lecture

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A debate on Fifth Amendment protections involving eminent domain and a discussion on fulfilling promises of equal justice in communities, are among the activities at Southern Illinois University Carbondale that focus on the nation’s Constitution. 

Constitution Day is Saturday, Sept. 17.  The day marks the 229th anniversary of delegates to the Philadelphia Convention completing and signing the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. 

The events are free and open to the public.  All educational institutions that receive federal funding must annually deliver programs on the U.S. Constitution.

A pre-Constitution Day demonstration debate featuring two members of SIU’s championship debate team, will take place at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 14, in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium.

The debate will examine the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that centered on the use of eminent domain by the city of New London, Conn. The ruling, according to reports, permitted the city to use eminent domain to take private property from one person and transfer it to a private developer for an economic redevelopment project -- that subsequently did not materialize.

Team members Arielle Stephenson, a senior in business economics, and Zach Moss, a doctoral student in communication studies, will debate the issue. Graham will be in the “Dawg Pound” and cross-examine Stephenson and Moss with tough questions between speeches. He will also encourage audience members to ask questions.

After the debate, which will last less than an hour, light refreshments will be available.  The debate is sponsored by the library's government documents service as part of the Federal Depository Library Program, the Special Collections Research Center, and the Friends of Morris Library.

At 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15, the SIU School of Law will host Pete White, founder and co-executive director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, or “LA CAN.” 

White, a community organizer in the city since 1992, will present, “Empowered: Fulfilling the Constitutional Promise of Equal Justice in Your Community.” The program is at 5 p.m. in the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building Courtroom. There will also be commentary from James P. Chapman, an adjunct professor in the law school, who is co-founder of Carbondale’s Center for Empowerment and Justice and founder of the Illinois Institute of Community Law and Affairs. Steven Macias, an associate professor at the law school, will serve as moderator. 

Morris Library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. government documents and has been serving as the largest Federal Depository Library in Southern Illinois since 1932. The library’s government documents are open to the general public and not limited to university faculty, staff and students. The library’s Special Collections Research Center houses the political papers of several significant local, regional, state and national politicians and political appointees, as well as the records of several regional governmental and political advocacy organizations. More information on the library’s government documents is available at and political papers at