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UM News
September 03, 2013

MISSOULA – To commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, the University of Montana will host a Constitution Day lecture by historian Melvin Urofsky titled “Dissent and the Constitutional Dialogue” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, in the North Underground Lecture Hall.

Urofsky is a former history department chairman and professor emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University and is the historian-in-residence at American University in Washington, D.C. In 2010, he was awarded the Distinguished Griswold Prize by the Supreme Court Historical Society for his biography of Supreme Court Justice Brandeis titled “Louis D. Brandeis: A Life.” Among his 52 book publications is “March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States,” one of today’s most widely used Constitutional texts.

The lecture is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the UM Office of the Provost and has been held annually since 2004.

All U.S. educational institutions that receive federal funding are required to provide programming on Constitution Day, but mandate aside, lecture organizer and UM Professor Michael Mayer said the topic always is important.

“We should celebrate the Constitution,” Mayer said. “It’s the oldest instrument of government still in effect, and it’s ours. It’s our principals of government.”

Urofsky’s high profile in the world of Constitutional scholarship is not uncommon of UM Constitution Day speakers. Though UM boasts Constitutional scholars on its faculty and Mayer himself has delivered the lecture before, he said finding an outside speaker offers the campus and community a special opportunity.

“I think it’s nice that we bring in someone with an established, prominent position as a scholar – somebody students can’t hear three times a week in class,” he said.

This year’s lecture, focusing on dissent and its importance in dialogue about the Constitution, comes at a time when dissent is a major political topic. Leaked information about U.S. military operations and the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance has launched an ongoing national conversation about the place of dissent in society and how the government should respond.

“The Constitution’s always important; we always should talk about it,” Mayer said. “But the topic this year turned out to be timely.”

For more information call Mayer at 406-243-2088 or email michael.mayer@mso.umt.edu.

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Local, Western Montana

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Contact: Michael Mayer, professor, UM Department of History, 406-243-2088, michael.mayer@mso.umt.edu.