This week's Supreme Court confirmation hearings make Friday's Constitution Day celebration a fitting event, Kansas University officials say.
"The timeliness is ironic," said Richard Levy, a KU law professor. "We are in the midst of a process that may bring changes someday in constitutional meaning, so it's not a bad time to address the issue."
Congress in 2004 required any federally-funded educational institution to present a program on the Constitution each year on Sept. 17, the document's signing date.
Since that date falls on Saturday, many schools are having their programs early this year.
Published news reports indicate some universities will cover the requirement with one speech or a panel along with recitation of the Constitution's preamble. But a full slate of activities began Tuesday evening at KU's Dole Institute of Politics.
Jonathan Earle, the institute's associate director, said it is important for KU to tackle constitutional issues.
"I'm happy we're not just reciting the preamble," he said.
Law professors Levy and Steve McAllister participated in a forum Tuesday evening on constitutional interpretation. Retired Kansas Supreme Court Justice Fred N. Six moderated.
"I believe the Constitution is an essential part of our social fabric," Levy said Tuesday before the forum. "It's important to know it and understand the principles behind it."
"It's what makes us different in many ways: Our traditions and history that have built up around it. It's important that we recognize that and celebrate it periodically," McAllister said.
Other events are planned.
Kathleen McCluskey Fawcett, KU's senior vice provost, will lead a recitation of the preamble at 1 p.m. Friday on Wescoe Beach. KU Chancellor Bob Hemenway will lead another one at 6 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium before the KU-Louisiana Tech football game.
The following is the preamble to the United States Constitution:
¢ We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.