In 2005, Congress passed and the President signed Public Law 108-447 to establish Constitution Day. Section 111(a) of that law reads:
Following the law’s passage, the Education Department issued a “Notice of Implementation of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on September 17 of Each Year,” 70 Fed. Reg. 29727 (May 24, 2005). The notice applies to educational institutions receiving federal funding from the Department of Education. Today’s Proclamation by the President about Constitution Day reminds us “celebrate our Constitution and reaffirm our rights and responsibilities as citizens of this great Nation”.
The head of each Federal agency or department shall—
(1) provide each new employee of the agency or department with educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution as part of the orientation materials provided to the new employee; and
(2) provide educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution to each employee of the agency or department on September 17 of each year.
(b) Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.
The debates from the 1787 Constitutional Convention may appear to be historic abstractions. Yet those same issues live on today when once again the nation is in debt, the money being printed continues to lose value, large population centers are at odds with small towns, and unchecked powers are concentrated in a unitary executive. Constitution Day needs to be more than a symbolic gesture to history. It is an opportunity to debate a broad range of contemporary issues that call for great compromise. The CQ Researcher offers some suggestions:
Is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act constitutional? (2002, 1st Amendment/Freedom of Speech)
Is the government misusing the USA Patriot Act? (2003, 4th Amendment/Search and Seizure)
Should there be a national moratorium on executions? (2001, 8th Amendment/Cruel and Unusual Punishment)
Should Congress ban so-called partial-birth abortions? (2003, 14th and 9th Amendments)
Should public libraries use filters to block obscenity and pornography on the Internet? (2001, 1st Amendment/Freedom of Speech)
Should the federal government fund faith-based groups as proposed by President Bush? (2001, 1st Amendment/Religion: Establishment Clause)
Should colleges be allowed to use race as a factor in admissions? (2003, 14th Amendment)
Should gay marriage by legally recognized? (2003, Article IV/Privileges and Immunities Clause)
Did the president act responsibly in seeking authority to pre-emptively strike Iraq? (2002, Article I/War Power)