The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

President faces tough decisions, panel says

All United States citizens should be able to say with certainty that their nation celebrates Independence Day every year on July 4.

However, not very many people – the exception being those interested in political science – know the day the nation’s founding fathers introduced the contemporary form of government with the signing of the
U.S. Constitution.

“It’s good to be informed about things that … will affect us as we get out into the world.”
Jesse Traner

This reason drew more than 150 students, faculty, staff and community members to Schofield Auditorium Tuesday evening in commemoration of the first annual “Constitution Day,” which was officially Saturday.

Associate Professor Rodd Freitag, chair of the political science department, moderated a three-member panel that discussed “Constitutional Law for a Changing Supreme Court,” which revolved around the recent nomination of Judge John Roberts as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

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Oscar Chamberlain, senior lecturer in the history department; James Tubbs, associate professor of political science and Michael Fine, professor of political science, made up

the panel.

Legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., in 2001 would have declared Sept. 17 Constitution Day, an official national holiday, but this bill was not


Although the original legislation was voted down, Byrd succeeded in adding a provision to an amendment to an education-spending bill regarding Constitution Day, Freitag said.

The bill, which was passed earlier this year, requires all federal agencies and educational institutions that receive federal funds to hold programs to educate people about the Constitution, he said.

The three panelists also spoke on some of the main issues that the associate justice and supreme justice nominees might deal with that might dramatically affect future decisions of the court.

Issues such as abortion, gay marriage and women’s rights always have been important in the court’s interpretation of the Constitution, Chamberlain said, and will continue to be things the new court will have to consider.

Tubbs also discussed prayer in school, which he said is something that will continue to be a very controversial issue in coming years.

Fine discussed the historical influence of federalism on the court and its decisions.

“The topics were really relevant,” said freshman Jesse Traner, who attended the program as part of her American national politics course. “I think they were important. It’s good to be informed about things that either affect us now or will affect us as we get out into the world.”

Freshman Chelsea

Dresser, who also attended as part of a class, agreed.

“It’s really interesting. I want to get into politics more, but (until now), I’ve felt really sheltered,” she said. “It’s good to get out and see what’s going on (in the world).”

People are starting to want change in some of the court’s decisions, Chamberlain said.

The only two ways to accomplish that are to attempt to change the opinions of each individual justice or to change the makeup of the court itself by putting pressure on President Bush to choose nominees with different

opinions, he said.

If the president chooses wisely, Fine said, he will choose a nominee who will stand for what the president believes in even decades after his term in office.

Otherwise, Tubbs said, the court will get someone who might, over time, adopt a different ideology than that of the president who nominated him or her.

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President faces tough decisions, panel says