Appel to deliver Constitution Day Lecture in Great Hall

Appel to deliver Constitution Day Lecture in Great Hall

by Allison UllmannStaff Writer

Brent Appel, associate justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, will deliver the annual Constitution Day Lecture Thursday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. in Jordan Lecture Hall.

According to Brian Steffen, professor of communication studies and director of Simpson Forum, Constitution Day is set aside each year to celebrate the anniversary of the finishing of the Constitution at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787.

“The Constitution is a remarkable document – it’s the world’s oldest surviving Constitution and a charter of democratic self-government,” Steffen said. “Yet, we find that the vast majority of Americans couldn’t tell you the first thing about the Constitution nor can they tell you what rights the Constitution protects.”

Sophomore Sara Crouse, an art and corporate communications major, believes that Constitution Day helps raise awareness in society.

“Constitution Day is held to increase the public’s awareness of our Constitutional history and how it plays a role in today’s political and judicial society,” Crouse said. “As citizens of a changing world, we should be aware of our actions and how they affect the growing document [the Constitution].”

For several years, Simpson has put together a forum event that brings a notable figure in Constitutional law to campus to talk about relevant issues.

“Last year, for example, we brought in Ben Stone, director of American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, and he talked about the ACLU and its history and the way that it frequently takes on very unpopular causes that get a huge amount of opposition from the public,” Steffen said. “But it does so because it believes as a matter of principle that the Constitution should be defended.”

Before practicing law in Des Moines for 19 years, Justice Brent Appel was first assistant and deputy attorney general for Iowa. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2006.

“It’s always interesting to have a member of Iowa’s highest court-or any high court- come to speak to our students,” Steffen said. “I think that somebody who is actually on the front lines of interpreting the Constitution is a valuable voice to have in that debate.”

Steffen believes that everyone can benefit from the forum event and from learning more about the Constitution.

“I think that we can all benefit from knowing more about a really incredible governing document and this is an opportunity to engage in that,” Steffen said. “I would also say that we’ve probably never had a time where it was more important that people understand what the Constitution is, what it protects, what its powers that it gives the various branches of government are and more importantly what powers it doesn’t give.”

Students believe that it is important to know more about the historic document.

“The Constitution is important because it not only upholds our historical values and allows today’s society to grow and flourish for the benefit of future generations,” sophomore Chelcee Cheers, a pre-law and corporate communications major said.

Sophomore Jamie Corey, a pre-law and political science major and a co-coordinator of the College Democrats, hopes that students will attend the forum event and gain a new appreciation of the Constitution.

“It’s important for every student to reflect on this day because no matter who you are, what you do, or what you believe, the Constitution impacts every student on this campus,” Corey said. “I hope that every student takes advantage of the forum event to become more aware of what the day represents and to appreciate the rights and freedoms that we take for granted everyday.”