FIRE Celebrates National Constitution Day

September 17, 2009

Today is Constitution Day, commemorating the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. Yet surprisingly few are aware of the occasion, and fewer still know that September 17 is also national Citizenship Day. (In fact, it is designated as both in the United States Code.) The day is an occasion for Americans to proudly reflect on our nation’s rich heritage of freedom and democracy and to appreciate the precious rights and liberty we enjoy under our Constitution.

At FIRE, we are celebrating Constitution Day in the best way we knowby defending the guarantees of that venerable document. At East Georgia College (EGC), we are pursuing justice for a professor who was summarily fired and removed from campus for criticizing the flaws in his college’s sexual harassment policy. The abuses of freedom of expression, due process, and sheer common sense in this case are truly appalling. The case has already garnered much national attention and will continue to do so until the administration at EGC comes to its senses.

We have also joined a coalition of 13 civil liberties groups in writing an open letter criticizing the removal of the cartoons depicting Mohammed from author Jytte Klausen’s forthcoming book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, to be published in October by the Yale University Press. The letter was authored by Joan Bertin, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), and was sent to Yale President Richard C. Levin and members of the Yale Corporation. As the letter states, the decision to remove the cartoons "compromises the principle and practice of academic freedom, undermines the independence of the Press, damages the University’s credibility, and diminishes its reputation for scholarship." At a renowned institution of higher education, such an affront to the values protected by the Constitution is most regrettable.

At Bucknell University, we continue to bring heat to the administration for its deplorable treatment of the Bucknell University Conservatives Club (BUCC). The latest effort is an article co-authored by our own Peter Bonilla and BUCC member Travis Eaione in Human Events. It is well worth a read and gives the case the amount of scrutiny it deserves. After all, Bucknell’s behavior in this matter not only abandons the expressive rights the school promises its students, it goes against the fundamental spirit of our Constitution.

In these and so many other cases, FIRE continues to pursue the ideals that our founding fathers set forth in the Constitution. The freedom and liberty guaranteed by the Constitution are always in need of defense, and FIRE is happy to play our part. We wish all citizens a happy Constitution Day!