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September 18, 2008

Annual Celebration of the u.s. Constitution

Students Take Comprehensive Look on 221st Anniversary of Signing

It was a primer for some and a refresher course for others, Thursday, September 18, as six students in the St. Francis College St. Thomas More Pre-Law Society spoke about the meaning and implications of all 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution to honor the 221st anniversary of the signing of the document.

Accounting & Business Law Assistant Professor Miriam Salholz, the moderator of the Pre-Law society hosted the annual Constitution Day event saying how impressed she was by the students who were eager to take on the challenge.

College President Brendan J. Dugan '68 welcomed the audience to the Maroney Forum for Arts, Culture and Education. He spoke about the importance of being politically educated and motivated, especially in this presidential election year.

Harold Solis, President of St. Thomas More Pre-Law Society led the audience and his fellow students through a slide-show presentation which summarized the amendments. He spoke particularly about the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in the wake of the Civil War. Solis said the Incorporation Doctrine within the Amendment was the missing link that served to expand the rights of citizens against state governments.

Dimitar Georgiev, a Communications Major with a double Minor in Political Science and History, spoke about how even though the original bill of rights was modeled on its British counterpart; the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is the first time that such broad freedoms were granted to citizens of a country. He pointed out how important and amazing it is that even during wartime, people are allowed to speak out against the government, some going so far as to burn flags.

Marcus Rodriguez, an Information Technology Major and Business Minor, focused on three amendments including the Fourth which gave citizens protections against illegal searches and seizures.

The Sixth Amendment, which guarantees a public trial and the Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the right to vote were the focus for Nathalie Lamberto. "This is the most important amendment to me. I can't imagine not having the power to vote. It's hard for me to believe that there are societies where this exists." In talking about the Sixth Amendment, Lamberto said she feels the policies being enforced at Guantanamo Bay are a way of trying to get around the Constitution and are wrong.

John Battaglini took a look at some of the more detail oriented amendments including the Twelfth which altered the way the Electoral College votes for President. He gave a spirited mini-history lesson that led to the drafting of this amendment, talking about the problems created when the Vice-Presidency was given to the Presidential Candidate that received the second most votes, causing the first major issue when John Adams, a proponent for a strong centralized government became the second President of the United States and his Vice-President was Thomas Jefferson, a champion of state's rights. Battaglini also spoke about the Eighteenth and Twenty-First Amendments which started and stopped prohibition.

Law Society member and History Major, Zerlina Kwok also researched several amendments.

All attendees received a pocket sized U.S. Constitution.

Constitution Day is federally mandated by the U.S. Congress which deemed that any educational institution that receives federal money must hold an educational program related to the Constitution to commemorate the signing on September 17, 1787.

Photographs: Group Photo (From L-R: Zerlina Kwok, Marcus Rodriguez, Dimitar Georgiev (kneeling), Miriam Salholz, Harold Solis, John Battaglini & Nathalie Lamberto), Close up Photo (John Battaglini (foreground), Harold Solis (background))

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.
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