Professor ponders new constitution

In celebration of Constitution Day, Daryl Fair, professor of political science, questioned whether a new constitution is necessary last Wednesday in the Library Auditorium.

Sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA), the lecture was titled “Do We Need a New Constitution?”

Fair started the discussion by asking the audience: “What parts of the Constitution bug you? What needs to be changed?”

Examples brought up by the audience included the Electoral College, the right to bear arms and the lack of the Equal Rights Amendment, among others. Fair also mentioned the Takings Clause, which he described as advocating that “private property may not be taken for public use without compensation,” and a way to “get rid of the president without impeachment.”

“In other words,” he said, after going through various issues with the Constitution, “there are some controversial matters with the Constitution which can be considered.”

Fair described potential consequences if a new Constitutional convention were held.

“We just couldn’t reach an agreement,” Fair said. “(It would) cause so much bitterness in the country, we’d be worse off.”

According to Fair, a major concern with creating a new constitution for people is the chance it could create political turmoil and therefore wouldn’t be worth the effort. Part of the issue is “what we really have is an unwritten constitution.”

“We still have lawsuits over what the Constitution means,” Fair said. “Why do we have lawsuits? Because we don’t know what it means. It’s tangible, but it’s not clear.”

Besides not being clear, there other factors to consider, such as Supreme Court decisions, according to Fair.

“There’s other things that we need to pay attention to if we’re going to figure out what it means,” he said.

Fair’s personal conclusion was it would be “simpler to go through the process of changing the amendments,” rather than completely throwing out the Constitution and starting over.

“He was a good speaker with good ideas,” Amber Cox, senior business management major, said.

“Federal law says that every institution that receives public funding, like the College, has to celebrate the Constitution,” Michael Peters, SGA vice president of legal and government affairs, said. “We get aid from the school, they reimburse us. Dr. Fair helps out every year and he’s great at it.”

In the past, the College celebrated Constitution Day by having a trip to the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. It was found to be too costly and had little turnout, so SGA dropped it in favor of this “forum just to recognize the importance of the Constitution,” Peters said.