Annual Constitution Day Lecture

A celebration of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and the importance of the document today. 

In its sixth year, ASU's Constitution Day Lecture has welcomed deep conversation and productive debate about the crafting of the U.S. Constitution, its writers, and its objectives. Watch all of our previous Constitution Day lectures below. 

Annual Constitution Day Lecture 2023

The Constitution and Civic Virtue

Robert P. George

Constitutional structural constraints on power are necessary for the maintenance of republican government and ordered liberty but, Professor George will argue, they are not sufficient.

Certain virtues in the people, intellectual and moral, are no less necessary. And yet, the political order, however well-constituted it may be, cannot play more than a minor role in imparting these virtues.

The major role must be played by what Edmund Burke called the “little platoons” of civil society—the private associations, beginning with the family, that are primary in providing health, education, and welfare, and transmitting to each new generation the habits or mind and heart that are necessary for people to lead successful lives and be good citizens.

Robert P. George holds Princeton’s celebrated McCormick Professorship of Jurisprudence and is Founder and Director of the University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.

Date: Wednesday, September 20

Time: 5-7 p.m.

Location: Old Main, Carson Ballroom


Previous Constitution Day Lectures

2022 Constitution Day Lecture | "1776 and Us: Finding the Founding in a Foundering Democracy" with Dr. Jane Kamensky

From the very beginning, the history and study of the American Revolution has been bound up with the national identity of the United States, and thus with the country’s present needs. In recent years, the competing imperatives of activists and journalists at both edges of our ideological spectrum have produced warring narratives of the American founding: slavery versus liberty, original sin versus germinal gift, a conclave of villains versus garden of heroes. Both of these approaches owe more to politics than to history. As we approach the quarter-millennium mark, how can we equip ourselves and our students with an understanding of the revolutionary era that is rigorous, complex, and above all, true to the evidence?

Dr. Jane Kamensky is Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University.

The fifth Constitution Day Lecture was hosted on Sept. 19, 2022, and sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Design at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU and by The Jack Miller Center.

Watch the lecture.

2021 Constitution Day Lecture | "Patriotism – Our Most Contested Virtue" with Steven B. Smith

Is patriotism a virtue and, if so, what kind is it? Throughout history, love of country has had to contend with other forms of loyalty, to friends, family, clan, and religious community. Today it is necessary to defend patriotism from two alternatives: nationalism (on the right) and cosmopolitanism/multiculturalism (on the left). To do so, it is important to show that patriotism is not simply a form of form of blind loyalty – my country right or wrong – but is capable of moral honesty and rational self-criticism. An enlightened patriotism is the necessary underpinning of any decent society. Fourth Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 9, 2021.

Watch the lecture.

2019 Constitution Day Lecture | "The President Who Would Not Be King," with Michael McConnell

At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates struggled to create a presidency with sufficient authority to lead the nation, but without creating an elective monarch. Judge Michael McConnell of the Stanford Law School outlined the little-known story of how the framers went about that task, and its implications for today. Third Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 17, 2019.

Learn more. 

2018 Constitution Day Lecture | "Lincoln's Fathers" with Richard Brookhiser

The ASU School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership welcomed Richard Brookhiser in our second annual Constitution Day Address, "Lincoln's Fathers," in which he discussed the many ways in which Abraham Lincoln's predecessors and paternal figures influenced his personal and public life on Sept. 17, 2018. 

Learn more. 

Constitution Day Lecture at Arizona State University
Constitution Day Lecture at Arizona State University

2017 Constitution Day Lecture | "The Renaissance of Federalism," with Hon. Clint Bolick

September 17, 1787 was the final day of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia; with George Washington presiding as the president of the convention, the delegates who supported the final draft added their signatures to the text. In order to promote both understanding and appreciation of our nation’s fundamental law, The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University welcomed Hon. Clint Bolick of the Arizona Supreme Court. Inaugural Constitution Day lecture on Sept. 14, 2017

Learn more. 

In the media

A celebration of ideals

School of Economic Thought and Leadership Associate Director Adam Seagrave penned this op-ed about how Sen. John McCain and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson might encourage us to celebrate the day.

Read more. 

ASU professor discusses the history, importance of Constitution Day

Sept. 17 a national day to reflect on the impact of the original document, both its governing principles and its compromises

Read more. 

5 things to know about the Constitution

In honor of Constitution Day, ASU hosts events to promote understanding and appreciation of our nation’s fundamental law.

Read more.