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Belles celebrate freedom

Sarah Swiderski | Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In honor of the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution’s ratification yesterday, the Center for Academic Innovation at Saint Mary’s College hosted “Constitution Day 2012: Reflections on the Letter and the Spirit of the U.S. Constitution.”
Associate professor of communication studies Michael Kramer coordinated the day, including a panel in the Haggar College Center that featured veteran reporter and communication studies professor Susan Baxter, history professor Edith Miguda and political science professor Sean Savage.
Baxter reflected on the importance of the Constitution in terms of her experiences as a reporter. Baxter said it was the right of the public to be present at city council meetings unless certain requirements and processes are followed to close the session. Baxter said at one meeting she refused to leave, and the mayor told her the next time she refused she would be arrested.
“I told [the mayor] to prepare the sheriff because I’m not leaving,” Baxter said. “I thought ‘Wow, I’m going to jail for the Constitution.'”
Baxter said the right to be present at public meetings is important to the freedom of speech.
“Many times these public meetings are not important, but when they are, people need to know,” said Baxter.
Miguda also emphasized the importance of protecting the Constitution.
“The spirit of the Constitution is the spirit that lets us defend it,” Miguda stated. “The U.S. Constitution is exemplary in how we [Americans] defend it.”
Savage spoke about how Americans have different ways of interpreting the document.
“No matter how Americans differ [the constitution] is supposed to be the one thing that we have in common,” Savagedsaid. “It unites the U.S. in a basic document but it sustains an ongoing debate.”
Savage said the Constitution is strong and that unlike the United States, other countries will often go through and review the wording of their respective constitutions.
“We, [the United States], don’t do that,” Savage said. “We only added about 17 amendments since [the Bill of Rights]. …Maybe [the Constitution] unites us because we are always disagreeing about what it means.”
Contact Sarah Swiderski at [email protected]