University celebrates Constitution

Olivia Medovich
Staff writer

Kentucky Rep. John Tilley discusses HB 463 with students in the Curris Center Theater Tuesday. The University celebrated the day with several events.

Allie Douglass/The News

The political science department hosted Constitution Day on Tuesday in the Curris Center.

Martin Battle, professor of political science, helped coordinate events for the day including Constitution debates and discussion from faculty and guest speakers.

State Rep. John Tilley was a guest speaker at “Crime and the Constitution: Issues arriving from the new Kentucky crime bill.”

The Constitution plays a prominent role in every law made in the U.S., Battle said.

“The Constitution is an important symbol for America,” he said. “It ties us to being a democracy.”

The federal government requires all public institutions that receive federal funding to celebrate Constitution Day, Battle said, and not enough Americans understand the rights and freedoms defined in the Constitution.

“The state of knowledge of the Constitution in America is shockingly bad,” he said. “I’m not sure how many people have actually read the Constitution since high school.”

The political science department took over the program this year so it could be an academic experience for students, he said.

“I want students to understand that the Constitution affects their everyday lives,” Battle said.

Battle said approximately 350 students attended the events throughout the day and he was pleased with the turnout.

He said next year he hopes to see more academic departments participate with the program.

“We want to make it interesting for students so that they will attend,” he said.

James Clinger, political science professor, and Jeff Osborne, English and humanities and fine arts professor, debated “Contemporary perspectives on the U.S. Constitution.”

Clinger and Osborne shared their own perspectives of how the Constitution has changed since it was put into act through a debate on the president’s responsibilities and power separations.

“I’m hoping people will learn more about the Constitution – its aspects, origins, its change over time – and understand how it has changed and what practical impact it has,” Clinger said. “I welcome Constitution Day as an opportunity to bring attention to these issues.”

Tilley discussed House Bill 463, recently passed by the Legislature, at the event.

Tilley is the primary author of the bill.

The goal of the bill is to keep the low level misdemeanors out of jail, Tilley said. He said the bill has resulted in 7,500 fewer arrests in Kentucky and will save the state $422 million in the next decade.

Said Tilley: “There is no end to the learning and debate that goes along with the Constitution.”

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