“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
-Preamble of the U.S. Constitution
In 2004, the federal government designated September 17 (observed September 16 in 2011) as Constitution and Citizenship Day. The federal holiday commemorates the signing of this key document more than 200 years ago at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Northwestern University invites you to learn more about the U.S. Constitution and celebrate its ongoing legacy through a collection of web resources and free online videos.
Additionally, in observance of this holiday, the Center for Legal Studies is hosting scholar Amanda Hollis-Brusky for a talk entitled “Black-Robed Policymakers or Defenders of the Constitution?: When the Supreme Court Should and Should Not Govern Us.” The talk will be held from 5:30-7pm on October 1 in Annenberg Hall, G15. This event is free and open to the public.
Below are links to various websites that provide information on the U.S. Constitution and related organizations.
The U.S. Constitution
- The Text of the U.S. Constitution
- Amendments 1-10 (the Bill of Rights)
- Amendments 11-27
- The History of the U.S. Constitution
- The Signers of the U.S. Constitution
- U.S. Constitution Q & A
- Senator Robert Byrd and Constitution Day
- Landmark Supreme Cases
- The U.S. Constitution for Kids
- American Bar Association
- American Historical Association
- The Annenberg Classroom
- Bill of Rights Institute
- National Constitution Center
- The Constitution Project
- Constitutions of Other Nations
Below is a selection of videos related to the U.S. Constitution along with a series of conversations with Supreme Court Justices.
The U.S. Constitution
- The Constitution in Context: The Constitution Project assembled a panel of constitutional scholars and legal experts to discuss issues raised by the Justices in our videos. Here, presented, are a number of excerpts from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice John G. Roberts, each followed by an analysis and commentary from the panel. Various lengths
- Key Constitutional Concepts: Three 20-minute video segments examine key constitutional concepts. The first explains why the nation’s framers created the Constitution. The second describes the protection of individual rights by highlighting the Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright, affirming the right to an attorney. The last explores the separation of powers using the Supreme Court case of Youngstown v. Sawyer, a challenge to President Truman’s decision to take over steel mills during the Korean War. Length 62 minutes
- Mandate: Narrated by veteran CBS News correspondent Lesley Stahl, Mandate examines the complex relationship between the presidency and public opinion. Leading historians, political scientists and public figures offer insight into presidents and the presidency from George Washington through FDR. Length 35 minutes
Conversations with the Justices
- A Conversation on the Constitution: Judicial Independence: Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, and Sandra Day O’Connor speak with high school students from California and Pennsylvania about the importance of an independent judiciary. Taped in May 2006 at the Supreme Court, the Justices answer students’ questions and discuss the significance of the judiciary in the federal government and the ways in which independence is protected by the Constitution.Length 32 minutes
- A Conversation with Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. on the Origin, Nature, and Importance of the Supreme Court: The establishment of a federal judiciary was a top priority for this nation’s founding fathers. In December 2006, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. and a group of high school students participated in a conversation about the high court—from its history and evolution to the methods Justices use in selecting and hearing cases, to the role of an independent judiciary and other issues crucial to a healthy democracy today. Length 37 minutes
- A Conversation on the Constitution with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Fourteenth Amendment: Incorporating three integral constitutional tenets -- due process, equal protection, and privileges and immunities -- the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was originally intended to secure rights for former slaves, but over the years it has been expanded to protect all persons. In December 2006, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a group of students gathered at the Supreme Court to discuss the importance of the 14th Amendment and how it came to embody and protect the principle of “We the People.” Length 42 minutes