PROGRAM DETAILS

Should We Hold a Second Constitutional Convention?

Instructor
Burton Atkins
Category
Politics / Other
WPL02284

Course Description

Written in 1787, The American Constitution was a novel statement about the theory and practice of democratic governance. Inevitably, of course, the institutions and processes built into the Constitution reflected the world, and thinking, of the late 18th century. Over two centuries later, that world has long disappeared and yet, with just a few amendments, the document drafted in the summer of 1787 continues to govern the United States. The issue inevitably arises whether the Constitution drafted in 1787 can continue to successfully govern the United States in the 21st century and beyond. Should we, for example, continue electing our president through electoral, not popular, votes? Should Supreme Court justices have life tenure or should they be subject to fixed terms? Should a state such as Wyoming, with less than half the population of Palm Beach County, have equal representation in the Senate along with a state like California with a population larger than most countries of the world? Is the Second Amendment an anachronism left over from the 18th century or is it a vital component of liberty in a system of limited government? In short, has our country, and the world we live in, changed so much since 1787 that we should consider holding a Second Constitutional Convention to update our founding document? This will be the central theme of this lecture devoted to appraising whether a Constitutional Convention of 2019 is an idea worth serious consideration.

About the Instructor

  • Dr. Burton Atkins is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Florida State University. Currently, he teaches political science at Florida Atlantic University and also serves on the faculty at Penn State University. In his 35-year career at FSU, Dr. Atkins taught a variety of courses on, and wrote extensively about, constitutional law and US politics and served as chair of the Political Science Department. He lived in London from 1992 to 1997 while serving as the Director of FSU's London Study Center; and from 1997 until his retirement in 2006, serving as Director of the FSU International Affairs Program.