Saturday, September 27, 2008

Legal Scholar Promotes Book on the Invisible Constitution

BOSTON--(Sept.25,2008) Professor Laurence Tribe delivers his lecture on “The Invisible Constitution” as part of the Ford Hall Forum held at Suffolk University Law School.

By Margaret DeJesus (

Renowned legal scholar Laurence Tribe made the case on Thursday night that there is an “Invisible Constitution” also at work in America at Suffolk University Law School as part of the Ford Hall Forum lecture series.

About 120 people attended the lecture which was free and open to the public, continuing with the tradition of the Ford Forums.

Tribe, who is currently a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, stressed during his speech that “the Constitution is a living framework and not simply an artifact preserved in pristine conditions under glass.”

He also pointed out that some of the most widely held beliefs, such as the right over our own bodies or a provision forbidding states to secede from the union, are not even included in the written document.

“The text is merely a skeleton or a shadow. The reason we are not governed by the dead hand of the past is because it (the Constitution) has moved over time,” he said in his speech.

He began his talk by giving a brief history of the document explaining that the one on display in Washington D.C. is the handwritten draft and not the actual document eventually ratified by the states.

Following the talk was a question and answer session. It got heated at times as some people posed politically charged questions about Barack Obama, who was his research assistant at Harvard, and President Bush rather than staying on the topic of the Constitution.

“I strongly believe in the first amendment and am delighted that you disagree with me,” Tribe calmly countered to Susan Allen, a candidate for Congress. Ms. Allen was unsatisfied with his answer to her question regarding the constitutionality of appointing a Federal Reserve Board.

Suffolk University Law Professor Valerie Epps who moderated the lecture said in an interview after Tribe’s talk that he was “graceful in handling the lively questions” and did “a wonderful job of explaining how it (the Constitution) stood the test of time” not merely by its words but through the interpretation of what they say.

“He (Tribe) did a great job of driving home the point that the Constitution is lively and keeps changing. It’s not just a rigid old, document of historical record,” said Rich Minier, guest of the event. “I underestimated how continuous it is.”

“I thought it (his speech) was interesting in that we assume a lot of our rights our written down somewhere when in fact you have to imply a lot,” said Jane Lee, who recently took a tour of James Madison’s house in Virginia with her husband Mike to ring in the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.

Those who attended the lecture were given free copies of the Constitution within a mini booklet containing other historical facts and documents such as the Articles of Confederation.

Tribe signed copies of his new book, The Invisible Constitution after the lecture.

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