America’s’ most influential document, the Constitution, was signed on September 17th, 1787 by our Founding Fathers. Now every year on September 17th, we commemorate the signing of this document, which protects individual freedom, and the fundamental principles that govern the United States. The Constitution places the government’s power into the hands of citizens, and through the structure of the Constitution, legislative, judicial, and executive branches are kept in check with one another. To celebrate the day, we’ve put together important facts and activities to help you understand how the document relates to our world today including, why the Constitution is important, knowing your rights, the Liberty Medal Tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and interactive online games!
WCUI Students, you can find all these resources today and after Constitution Day in your Online Student Resource Center (OSRC) in Canvas under the Smith Library module. Make sure to look through the activities and fill out the form to enter into the raffle to win a prize! *One winner will be selected for each campus.
Why the Constitution is Important
Have you heard of the Schoolhouse Rock? If you haven’t seen this already now’s the time to watch this cartoon video! “The Preamble” by Schoolhouse Rock helps explain the purpose of the Constitution in a catchy way, but why is the Consitution still important today?
- Creates a government that puts the power in the hands of the people
- Separates the powers of government into three branches: the legislative branch, which makes the laws; the executive branch, which executes the laws; and the judicial branch, which interprets the laws
- Sets up a system of checks and balances that ensures no one branch has too much power
- Divides power between the states and the federal government
- Describes the purposes and duties of the government
- Defines the scope and limit of government power
- Prescribes the system for electing representatives
- Establishes the process for the document’s ratification and amendment
- Outlines many rights and freedoms of the people – like the right to vote, the right to protest, freedom of speech, and so many other human rights that are key in our political landscape today.
Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, former associate justice of the Supreme Court, put it this way:
“What makes the Constitution worthy of our commitment? First and foremost, the answer is our freedom. It is, quite simply, the most powerful vision of freedom ever expressed. It’s also the world’s shortest and oldest national constitution, neither so rigid as to be stifling nor so malleable as to be devoid of meaning.
Our Constitution has been an inspiration that changed the trajectory of world history for the perpetual benefit of mankind. In 1787, no country in the world had ever allowed its citizens to select their own form of government, much less to select a democratic government. What was revolutionary when it was written, and what continues to inspire the world today, is that the Constitution put governance in the hands of the people.”
You can learn more about the Constitution, explore scholarly resources, and understand your rights as a citizen as deemed by this living document by visiting the National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution website. (Links to an external site.)
Test your knowledge with games like “Do I Have A Right?”, “Cast Your Vote” and more through free, interactive online games created by iCivics: https://www.icivics.org/games
Know Your Rights
Know your rights by carrying the Interactive Constitution in your pocket.
The app version of the Interactive Constitution features a full analysis of the first 15 Amendments to the Constitution and the Articles, or Structural Constitution, from scholars representing different viewpoints. For each Amendment or Article, the scholars first agree on a Common Interpretation, and then they discuss Matters of Debate on each point.
To learn more and download the app, go to the following links in the App Store or Google Play:
2020 Liberty Medal Ceremony – A Tribute to Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg
On September 17, 2020, Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, will receive the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center during a live broadcast at 3:30 p.m. PST. This 32nd annual award will be given to Justice Ginsburg for her efforts to advance liberty and equality for all and is the apex of a year-long celebration that marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote.
To join in, visit the National Constitution Center’s website on Thursday, Sept 17th at 3:30 pm PST!