Each September 17, the Law Library of Congress celebrates Constitution Day and Citizenship Day – a U.S. federal observance to commemorate the signing of the Constitution, and “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”
The United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787 by thirty-nine delegates to the Constitutional Convention held in Pennsylvania. After ratification by eleven states, the Constitution became effective about one year later (September 13, 1788). The Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10) were added and ratified on December 15, 1791. While the U.S. Constitution has been amended and interpreted in different ways by courts over the years, it has endured. As the oldest continuing constitution in the world, it is viewed as a document embodying strong institutions, democratic ideals and principles of freedom.
Through the leadership of Sen. Robert Byrd, Congress enacted language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 (Pub. L. No. 108-447) that changed the designation of September 17th to “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day” and added two new requirements – (1) the head of every federal agency shall provide each employee with educational and training materials concerning the Constitution and (2) any educational institution which receives Federal funds shall hold a program on the U.S. Constitution for students on this day.
The Law Library of Congress holds an annual Constitution Day program to promote a greater understanding of constitutional law issues. This year we are happy to welcome Professor Risa Goluboff to discuss “How the Constitution Changes: Social and Political Aspects of the Law.” If you are in the D.C. area tomorrow, please join us for this program which will begin at 1:00 p.m. Even if you cannot attend the event in person, please join the discussion via Twitter (@LawLibCongress) using the hashtag #ConstitutionDay. We will add a web cast of the event to this space in the near future. In the meantime, you can view last year’s event which featured Senior Editor Dahlia Lithwick of Slate (magazine) who reviewed the U.S. Supreme Court’s activities in 2012.
To review the history of this observance along with important primary and secondary source materials on the subject, Margaret has written an excellent commemorative observances guide to Constitution Day. Additional Library resources on the topic include:
Celebrating Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation (See Continental Congress and The Constitutional Convention Section)
Commemorative Observations – Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
Constitution Day Resource – THOMAS
Constitution – Teachers Guide
Creating the United States Constitution
Guide to Law Online: United States Constitution
Library of Congress Web Guide: United States Constitution