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Lecture at St. John’s Explores the Constitution
FOR RELEASE: September 7, 2010
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410-626-2539
St. John’s tutor William Braithwaite will give a Constitution Day lecture on “Reading the Constitution as a Great Book.” The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium at St. John’s College on Friday, September 17 at 8:15 p.m.
“Reading the Constitution as a great book shows it to have been less a ‘social contract’ than a maturing growth from deeply-rooted English and European traditions,” says Braithwaite. “Such a reading suggests, too, that the powers of the national government’s legislative, executive, and judicial branches, along with the role and powers of the states, may have been originally intended to be somewhat different from what we have become accustomed to; it also helps us notice how the Constitution is terse, restrained, or silent about politically significant matters, such as religion, marriage and family, morality, and civic education.”
In his lecture Braithwaite will explore several questions. “Reading the Constitution as if it were a great book raises questions about whether it really is one; yet giving it the care and attention such books are worthy of brings out the vital importance of freedom of speech to the Constitution’s plan of government, leading us to wonder what conditions are necessary for the proper exercise of this freedom (and of the other freedoms it make possible).”
Mr. Braithwaite received his J.D. from Washington and Lee University in 1964 and was associate professor of law at Loyola University from 1979 to 1995 before he joined St. John’s College as a tutor.