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Constitution in Crisis

Monday's event, said James Acker, will explore a number of issues that have emerged in the past year that concern the three branches of the federal government. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 18, 2017) — On Sept. 17, 1787, the delegates from 12 of the original 13 states (Rhode Island sent none) concluded their summer-long, often contentious deliberations in Philadelphia, Pa., by drafting a new, proposed governing charter: the United States Constitution. It was signed by 11 state delegations and Alexander Hamilton representing New York (the other two NY delegates had gone home) in Independence Hall.

Now known as Constitution Day, Sept. 17 is celebrated each year — although observed this year today, the 18th. In recognition, UAlbany is hosting several events, including a special roundtable discussion from 12:15 - 1:30 p.m. in the Campus Center West Board Room: “The U.S. Constitution in Crisis.” The event is free and open to the public.

Participants include Professors Richard Hamm of History and Matthew Ingram and Julie Novkov of Political Science. The session will be moderated by Distinguished Teaching Professor James Acker of Criminal Justice.

“The Constitution is a living document," said Ann Marie Murray, Associate Provost for Program Development. "This Round table brings together University constitutional experts to share their perceptions on its application in today’s political climate.”

The participants will offer brief remarks and share their perspectives about whether and in what respects the country is confronting a time of Constitutional crisis, and what the short- and long-term implications are likely to be. Ample time will be provided for questions and discussion involving audience members.

“This forum could not be more timely in light of the host of issues that have emerged concerning each branch of the federal government — the Executive, Legislative and Judicial,” said Acker.

He listed some of these issues as immigration policy, the President's use of the pardoning power, the appointment and confirmation of Supreme Court justices, allegations that Russian officials tampered with the November 2016 election, freedom of speech and violent protests, and musings about the circumstances under which the President can or should be impeached or otherwise removed from office.

“Ultimately, these and related issues are of urgent importance and are the shared responsibility of ‘We the People,’” said Acker.

Novkov, a public law expert who studies the way law defines and translates categories associated with identity, such as race and gender, said her remarks will explore "the political and constitutional significance of the core group of ardent Trump supporters who seem unshakeable in their willingness to continue supporting him. Basically, the argument is that we can’t count on constitutional structure to fix broken politics.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.