September 12, 2017

Constitution Day events feature debate, U.S. Supreme Court preview

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A debate involving the Sixth Amendment guarantee of defense counsel in criminal trials and a look at upcoming U.S. Supreme Court cases are among the activities next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale that focus on the nation’s constitution. 

Constitution Day is Sunday, Sept. 17.  The day marks the 230th 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. 

Faculty from the SIU School of Law will discuss four cases before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, Sept. 18. The program is from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. in the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building Courtroom. The cases involve travel bans, same-sex wedding cakes, cellphone tracking and partisan legislative gerrymandering.  The law school’s American Constitution Society, a registered student organization, is also a program sponsor. 

Faculty discussions are: 

  • Cindy Buys, professor and director of International Law Programs will discuss “Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project,” on whether President Trump’s executive orders that suspends entry into the United States nationals of six predominately Muslim countries violates the Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
  • Valerie Munson, clinical associate professor, will discuss “Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,” a First Amendment issue on whether a state law that compels the baker to make cakes celebrating same-sex weddings violates sincerely held religious beliefs, free speech and or the free exercise clause.
  • Ed Dawson, assistant professor, will discuss “Carpenter v. United States,” that involves whether the government needs a warrant to seize historical cellphone records that the reveal the location of a cellphone user over 127 days and the concept of how “reasonable expectation of privacy” applies to personal data companies automatically collect via cellphones and other electronic devices.
  • Steve Macias, associate professor, will discuss “Gill v. Whitford,” and whether the Constitution prohibits states from deliberately drawing legislative district lines that favor one political party over another. 

Another Constitution Day celebration is the seventh annual Constitution Day Debate. The debate is at 7 p.m., Sept. 20, in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium.

Patrick Seick and Zachary Moss, doctoral students in communication studies, will debate the argument of whether the practice of underfunding public defenders violates a portion of the Sixth Amendment that guarantees the right of defense counsel for defendants who are unable to afford attorneys.

Seick and Moss will cross-examine each other’s positions and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions. In addition, the audience will take also take a pre- and post-debate vote. After the debate, which will last 45 minutes, light refreshments will be available