2011 Speaker: Virginia E. Sloan
OSU marks Constitution Day 2011 with a public talk by Virginia “Ginny” Sloan, president and founder of the Constitution Project.
Sloan will focus on the constitutional and civil liberty challenges the country still faces a decade after 9/11. The event began at 3:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 19 in the Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room, Edmon Low Library.
The Constitution Project was founded to protect the constitutional amendment process after several amendments were proposed in the 1990s. The project contributes speakers and resources to educational events including Constitution Day programming.
Sloan brings diverse experience to this year’s Constitution Day program. She is a special counsel to the Council of the American Bar Association's Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project. She also serves on the Honorary Board of Directors of the Washington Council of Lawyers and the ABA Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project's Steering Committee.
2010: Andrew Lester
Constitutionalism in the 21st Century
Sept. 16, 2010 marked OSU's 6th annual Constitution Day celebration. The campus commemorated the American Constitution with educational programming from guest speaker Andrew Lester, who discussed “Constitutionalism in the 21st Century: Is the Rule of Law Relevant?”
Lester is a member of the A&M Board of Regents and is also a practicing attorney in Edmond. Lester has written more than 80 articles on professional and public policy issues and has published, Constitutional Law and Democracy, a collection of speeches he gave in the former Soviet Union, in English, Russian and Romanian. Lester has been listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in the South and Southwest.
The 2010 event was sponsored by the OSU Library and Political Science department.
2009: Craig Watkins
Smart on Crime
Craig Watkins, Dallas County’s Criminal District Attorney, keynoted OSU's fourth annual Constitution Day Celebration on Sept. 17, 2010.
As the first black District Attorney in Texas history, Watkins has gained local and national attention after using DNA testing to free more wrongfully convicted men than anywhere else in the country.
“The tough on crime approach doesn’t work,” Watkins said.
Since being elected in 2006, Watkins has strived to be “smart-on-crime.” He believes that the government should seek justice, not convictions.
In July 2007, he established the Conviction Integrity Unit, which has overseen the post-conviction review of more than 400 DNA cases. This special unit is the first of its kind in the United States. Watkins' approach to the criminal justice system, which has received much attention, has set an example to the rest of the country.
Watkins has been honored with many awards for his outstanding accomplishments. The Dallas Morning News named Watkins the 2008 Texan of the Year. Watkins was also named the 2009 Constitutional Champion by the Constitution Project.
The 2009 OSU Constitution Day Celebration was sponsored by OSU Library and the political science department.
2008: Mickey Edwards
Rule of Law
Each September, colleges and universities across the nation provide programming to promote awareness of the history of our Constitution and the laws by which we live. At OSU, the Library and political science department partner to feature a notable speaker for the university’s Constitution Day celebration.
In 2008, OSU hosted Mickey Edwards, former Oklahoma Congressman and foreign affairs expert, for a talk titled “National Security and the Rule of Law.”
Edwards discussed the compromise of providing adequate national security against those foreign and domestic while citizens retain their personal freedoms. He noted the special care that is required to protect legal rights, which are most important during times of emergency.
"It is when the risk of the people is greatest that they must retain the right to be heard,” Edwards said. “Freedoms, once lost, are not easily regained.”
Edwards, who held his position in Congress for Oklahoma’s 5th district for 16 years, currently lectures at Princeton, writes weekly columns in the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times, and is a host of a weekly political commentary broadcast on National Public Radio.
While a member of Congress from 1977 to 1993, he was chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and a ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Foreign Operations.
Now, Edwards is director of several public policy and foreign affairs organizations. This background in foreign affairs and operations gives him particular insight into the “War on Terror” and how the Constitution and the citizens of the United States have been affected by new legislation like the “Patriot Act."
2007: Danny Adkison
Madison's Solution to the Negative Pregnant
A negative pregnant is the negation of one thing, and an affirmance of another. According to Danny Adkison, concern over the possible creation of a negative pregnant led to Madison and others at the Constitutional Convention opposing a Bill of Rights in the Constitution.
Adkison, an associate professor of political science at OSU and an expert on constitutional law, served as keynote speaker for the 2007 OSU Constitution Day Celebration. He discussed James Madison and the Negative Pregnant.
Conventional understanding often portrays the Framers as insensitive to individual rights. Adkison argued that the historical record clearly shows that concern for the legal concept known as “negative pregnant” explains their actions.
The framers saw two ways to avoid creating a negative pregnant with the Bill of Right: list every right imaginable or not create it. Madison found a solution, the Ninth Amendment.
The Ninth Amendment addresses rights not specifically outlined in the Constitution. It reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
The 2007 Oklahoma State University Constitution Day Celebration was held 3 to 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 17, in the Browsing Room at the Edmon Low Library. It was sponsored by the political science department and the OSU Library.
2006: Greg Favre
Freedom of the Press
From traditional American roots Paul Miller rose to a position of international influence in both the Gannett Corporation and Associated Press. His decades of leadership provided a legacy in the realms of journalism that will endure for generations.
Miller maintained that "Our actions must be determined not by mere compliance with state or federal law, not by public attitudes, but on the basis of doing the right thing."
The OSU Library is proud to house the Paul Miller Papers. The collection consists of general correspondence, speeches, columns and photographs of Miller, as well as similar material and memorabilia related to Associated Press, the Gannett Corporation and other newspaper, radio and television concerns with which Miller was involved. In addition to providing biographical information on Miller and other leaders of the Gannett Group, the material in this collection helps to document four decades of world affairs and developments in journalism and broadcasting.
September 2006 marked the 100th anniversary of Miller’s birth. In recognition, the OSU Library hosted a joint celebration of the reopening of the Paul Miller Room in the Edmon Low Library and Constitution Day.
The Paul Miller Room reopening ceremony was held September 15 at 10 am on the second floor of the Edmon Low Library. OSU’s official Constitution Day event followed at 11 am in the Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room. In honor of Miller’s birthday, Constitution Day featured Gregory E. Favre, Distinguished Fellow in Journalism Values at the Poynter Institute. He spoke on freedom of the press.
2005: Steven Taylor
Justice Steven Taylor was the inaugural speaker for the E-OSU Constitution Day series.
Taylor was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma by Governor Brad Henry, in September, 2004. From 1984 to 1994 he served as Associate District Judge in the 18th Judicial District. In 1991 he was the first Associate District Judge ever to be elected President of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference.
In his more than 20 years as a trial judge, he presided over more than 500 jury trials, including numerous murder trials. Most notably, he presided over the state murder trial of Oklahoma City bombing suspect Terry Nichols, following a change of venue from Oklahoma County.
Related Story: Taylor Wins 2008 Edna Mae Phelps Award