Students and faculty gathered on Sept. 18 to hear Dr. David Connolly explain the long history of the battle of interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
Connolly presented his lecture, “The Constitution: Original Intent or Living Document” just after Constitution Day, Sept. 17, the anniversary of its adoption.
The lecture focused on the ongoing debate: Should the Constitution be treated by considering the original intent of the framers, or should it be more of a living document, adaptable and open to interpretation?
Connolly highlighted both sides of the argument, saying that the originalism school of thought, made up of those who believe that the Constitution should be upheld based on original intent often didn’t allow for progress.
Those who believe that the Constitution is a living document often stand accused of robbing the document of meaning.
Referring to the intent for perfection mentioned in the Preamble, Connolly said: “We have to know what it means if we are going to achieve perfection,” favoring consideration of, but not strict adherence to, original intent.
Students were intrigued by the presentation. Freshman Open Option student Samantha Rotunno said: “I would have to do more research before I decide whether or not I agree, but I really enjoyed the lecture.”
Congress enacted Constitution Day in 2005. As Connolly pointed out, the Constitution is one of the most revered documents in the U.S. and one of the most emulated by other nations.