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Sept. 17: Kick off My Daily Constitution with a public reading at the Statehouse

My Daily Consitution opens on Constitution Day with public “Reading the Constitution” at the Indiana Statehouse

When: Sunday September 17, 2:00-5:30 PM

Where: The Atrium, Indiana State House Building 200 West Washington Street
Ohio Street entrance (North side of Building) Indianapolis

A public reading of the Constitution, with Hoosier Constitutional scholars and lawyers answering your questions live, in real time! Come to read, or listen ... but come with questions and the expectations that you will be starting something special.

For more information ...

Before joining the experts to read and discuss the Constitution, read it on your own. It is surprisingly brief, the shortest constitution of any democracy in the world. As part of “My Daily Constitution,” you can pick up a free copy at several locations around town. There are plenty of copies you can download from the web, including here. If you want to see how much of the constitution has been changed over the years, check out the annotated version provided by Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute. Even more detailed is the Interactive Constitution set up by the National Constitution Center. Take lots of notes and come to Statehouse on Constitution Day ready to ask questions.

Looking for a couple of good background articles about the Constitution? Look at eminent historian Gordon Wood’s “The Founders Rule!,” a review of Bruce Ackerman’s new book, The Failure of the founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy. Robert Remini gave a good lecture to the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2003 about “Ordinary Heroes: Founders of Our Republic.”

After discussing the Constitution with some of Indiana’s finest legal scholars, you will probably want to read about this remarkable and still-evolving document. Start with Akhil Reed Amar’s highly acclaimed America’s Constitution: A Biography. Another excellent book is Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution, by Jack Rakove. Another attempt to discern the original ideas and intentions of the Framers is Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution, by Forrest McDonald (who visited Indianapolis earlier this year).

There are many websites that collect documents and articles from the Constitution’s history. For two decades, the multi-volume collection The Founders’ Constitution (published by Indianapolis’s own Liberty Fund) was the standard. Now The Founders’ Constitution is available on-line.

About the venue: The State House that stands at the intersection of Market and Capitol Streets is the third incarnation of a home for Indiana’s legislature. The first State House was built in the 1820s to house state offices and county government, and a second structure was erected in 1835 for just $60,000; however, this building began to deteriorate after only 30 years of use. The current State House was completed in 1888, in a design similar to the U.S. Capitol. Recent renovations have returned the current State House to much of its original state, including the light-filled atriums.
If you like this event ... check out the Arsenal Tech High School Debate team, which will revive the concerns and anxieties about the Constitution that wracked the country more than two centuries ago. You can view a copy of the first running of the Constitution at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, see for yourself what the fuss is all about. And do check out how the hip-hoppin' kids address the issues with the Constitution Poetry Slam.

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