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CSU focusing on U.S. Constitution's meaning

Happy Birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy 223rd birthday, U.S. Constitution!

As of Friday, it will have been 223 years since the framers of the Constitution signed the document –– which still guides the nation's government –– on the final day on the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pa.

Officials at Clayton State University, in Morrow, are celebrating the anniversary of the Constitution's signing as it has for the last six years — with "Constitution Week."

On Wednesday, Eric Segall, a professor of law at Georgia State University, gave this year's "Constitution Week" keynote address, on how the U.S. Supreme Court fits into the nation's constitutional framework, as an interpreter of the document.

"We went to war over slavery, but we have not gone to war over issues like abortion, gun owners' rights, and freedom of religion –– and one of the reasons is because this un-elected Supreme Court exists," Segall said. "The court is actually aware it has no money, and no standing military. All it has is the trust and confidence of the American people.

"And, the justices know if they lose that trust, or that confidence, then the American people will lose faith in the system as a whole."

As the years have passed at Clayton State, "Constitution Week" events have increasingly gone beyond celebrating the Constitution, and focused more on looking at the meaning of the document. Gone now are activities, such as a public reading of the Constitution. Newer additions include debates on the constitutional hot topics of the moment.

"I really want them [students] to look beyond the words of the Constitution," said Joe Corrado, an assistant professor of political science at Clayton State. Corrado has been the organizer of "Constitution Week" activities for the past few years.

The week is important to observe, he said, because the Constitution is an ever-present factor in the lives of Americans. "Right now, there are debates going on about what it means to be a citizen, and should we abolish the 14th Amendment," he said. "These are things that ... affect our lives in the United States today."

Events earlier in the week included discussions on first amendment rights, a voter registration drive, a volunteer fair, and debates on repealing the 14th Amendment, Arizona's immigration law, and the affect of 9/11 sensitivities on First Amendment protections.

Jesse Burden, a senior technical management major at Clayton State, said he thinks setting aside a week to reflect on the Constitution is a "good idea." Burden said people should understand the Constitution, if they want to be protected by it.

"If you don't know what it says, people can use it against you," he said.

Clayton State's "Constitution Week" activities continue today with a discussion on the role of technology in today's world, in room 322 of the university's James M. Baker University Center, from 11:30 a.m., to 12:30 p.m.

There will also be a "Lead the Way" discussion, featuring Clayton State Vice President of External Relations Robert L. "Steve" Stephens, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general, beginning at 11:30 a.m., in room 268 of the Baker Center.

On Saturday, beginning at 7:30 a.m., Clayton State students will participate in the Forest Park Pride Clean Up, in Forest Park, Ward 2. The students will begin their clean-up efforts at Forest Park First Baptist Church, which is located at 634 Main St.