By Corinne Anderson
The Constitution is a document that has been at the forefront of every aspect of American life, most importantly focusing on Americans’ rights. It is also the topic of a book that closely examines the many interpretations of this integral aspect of American culture.
Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale law professor and author of America’s Unwritten Constitution, visited Rider on Feb. 28. Amar discussed the framework his book is built upon and revealed the different ways the constitution has been interpreted.
He pointed out some issues that the Constitution may encounter, including the succession to president should the president and vice president be unable to continue their duties.
“I don’t believe [the country] is stabilized enough to survive the change,” Amar said, noting the shift from Democratic to Republican leadership.
The next person in line after the vice president would be the speaker of the house. Currently, the speaker of the house is a Republican in contrast to the Democratic president and vice president. Amar felt that a change in party ruling would upset the balance.
In Amar’s book, he discusses how the Constitution does not explicitly say each and every right that American’s feel that they have. It must be considered as a whole, including what is read between the lines.
Amar also noted during the Q&A session that his beliefs and personal decisions are not reflected in his book. One issue that he spoke about was the ever-growing debate dealing with firearms and the second amendment.
“Personally, I don’t like guns,” Amar stated, “But they are very American.”
He answered the right to bear arms debate based solely upon what is constitutional. Guns are constitutional, he said, but the constitution does not keep states and the government from restricting certain weapons or making it more difficult to obtain one.
Amar also reveals in his book that the issue of conscience and the pieces of the Constitution that have not yet been written. He points out that the future America will have a larger need for amendments.
The event was sponsored by the Law and Justice Society and the Rebovich Institute of Politics. Faculty and students alike turned out for the event, filling Memorial 210 to capacity.
“There were students sitting out in the hallway,” Professor Ilene Goldberg, Law and Justice Society advisor said.
The feedback from his visit was positive.
“He is very personable,” RuthAnn Mitchell, a Law and Justice Society member said.