Exercising Your Constitutional Rights

September 17th, 2008 by Adam

On Sept. 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by 39 brave men who changed the course of history. This document is the basis on which America was founded: commitments to the rule of law, limited government and the ideal of liberty, equality and justice. Constitution Day is intended to celebrate not only the birth of our government, but the ideas that make us Americans and Plymouth State University celebrated this momentous occasion with activities focusing on our constitutional rights and liberties.

Guest speaker Claire Ebel, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, told the crowd in the HUB’s Fireplace Lounge that too many people don’t understand or appreciate constitutional rights and students need to know the issues.

“This is an opportunity for a university to educate on an issue that may not be part of the ordinary classroom curriculum; we need to realize that if we don’t protect our constitutional rights, they could go away,” said Ebel. “There are many attempts at the federal level, specifically, to limit or eliminate the constitutional rights and protections that all citizens have.”

Robert Egbert, a PSU social science associate professor, added that students can be misled by well-meaning people about their constitutional rights.

“Sometimes, at institutions of higher learning, there are some causes for concern,” Egbert said. “I think we need to talk about the fourth amendment and the first amendment to remind the students that have the ability to stand up for themselves on some occasions.”

The fourth amendment guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, the first amendment guarantees the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press and the right to peaceably assemble.

Other Constitution Day activities included reading books that have been banned in schools at various times in our country’s history, a discussion on voting rights and voting registration information and a test on the elements of the Constitution.

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For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or Bruce Lyndes