Since the nation’s founders first drafted the Constitution, America has never held a constitutional convention. But some are saying the time has come. In recent years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have called for a wide variety of amendments. For instance, some progressive thinkers want an amendment to overturn Citizens United while others want an amendment to force a balanced national budget. A convention would allow debate on this array of potential amendments all at once. However, calling a convention for proposing amendments is risky, because it has never been done before — and it might inadvertently put the entire constitutional structure up for grabs. Is it worth the risk? On Wednesday, December 7, the “fantastic” (The New Yorker) debate series Intelligence Squared U.S. will hold their final debate of the fall season on the motion “Call a Convention to Amend the Constitution.”
Two teams pairing a prominent liberal and a prominent conservative will debate this motion. Debating in support of the motion are Lawrence Lessig, an independent 2016 presidential candidate fighting the influence of money in politics, and Mark Meckler, a prominent grassroots activist and a contributor to Breitbart. Debating against the motion are Georgetown Law professor David Super and the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson, who the Washington Post called the “intellectual guru of tort reform.”
This is the final debate of the fall season as Intelligence Squared U.S. enters its tenth anniversary next year. The debate will be held at NYC’s Kaufman Center and stream live online, then air soon after as part of the syndicated public radio show and podcast “Intelligence Squared U.S.” On December 7, online viewers can tune in at IQ2US’s new website (http://bit.ly/ConstConvention).
WHAT: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates “Call a Convention to Amend the Constitution”
WHEN: Wednesday, December 7, 2016/ Reception 5:45-6:30 / Debate 6:45-8:30 PM
WHERE: Kaufman Center/129 W. 67th Street (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam)/New York, NY 10023
TICKETS: $40 ($12 for students w/ ID). To purchase, visit http://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/
Arguing for the motion:
* Lawrence Lessig: Professor, Harvard Law & Founder, Mayday PAC
Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and founder of Rootstrikers, a network of activists leading the fight against government corruption. As a professor at Stanford Law School, Lessig founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society. He has authored numerous books, including Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Our Congress’ and a Plan to Stop It (2011). In 2014 he launched the Mayday PAC, crowdfunding small-dollar contributions to fund a super PAC big enough to win a majority in Congress in 2016 committed to fundamental reform.
* Mark Meckler: President, Citizens for Self-Governance
Mark Meckler is one of the nation’s most effective grassroots activists. After he co-founded and was the national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, he founded Citizens for Self-Governance, where he is president, to revolutionize American government. Founded in February 2012, this grassroots initiative expands and directs the ever- growing, bipartisan self-governance movement. He is the co-author of Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution, and writes regularly on Breitbart, the American Spectator, and SelfGovern.com.
Arguing against the motion:
* David Super: Professor, Georgetown Law
David Super is a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, specializing in administrative law, health law, legislation (including the federal budget), local government law, property, and public welfare law. Prior to entering the legal academy, he served for several years as the general counsel for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and worked for the National Health Law Program and Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. Before attending Harvard Law School, he was a community organizer. His writing has been published in a number of national media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and The Baltimore Sun.
* Walter Olson: Senior Fellow, Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies
Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies and is known for his writing on the American legal system. His books include The Rule of Lawyers, on mass litigation, The Excuse Factory, on lawsuits in the workplace, and most recently Schools for Misrule, on the state of the law schools. His first book, The Litigation Explosion, was one of the most widely discussed general-audience books on law of its time. It led the Washington Post to dub him “intellectual guru of tort reform.” He is the founder and principal writer of what is generally considered the oldest blog on law as well as one of the most popular, Overlawyered.com. Before joining Cato, Olson was an editor at the magazine Regulation, then edited by future Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
ABOUT INTELLIGENCE SQUARED U.S. DEBATES (IQ2US)
A non-partisan, nonprofit organization, Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in 2006 to restore civility, reasoned analysis and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape. The award-winning debate series reaches over 30 million American households through multi-platform distribution, including radio, television, live streaming, podcasts, interactive digital content, and on-demand apps on Roku and Apple TV. With over 120 debates and counting, Intelligence Squared U.S. has encouraged the public to “think twice” on a wide range of provocative topics. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated IQ2US since 2008. The executive producer is Dana Wolfe.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia inspires citizenship as the only place where people across America and around the world can come together to learn about, debate, and celebrate the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. We serve as America’s leading platform for constitutional educational and debate, fulfilling our Congressional charter “to disseminate information about the U.S. Constitution on a non-partisan basis.” As the Museum of We the People, we bring the United States Constitution to life for visitors of all ages through interactive programs and exhibits. As America’s Town Hall, we bring the leading conservative and liberal thought leaders together to debate the Constitution on all media platforms. As a Civic Education Headquarters, we deliver the best educational programs and online resources that inspire, excite, and engage citizens about the U.S. Constitution. For more information, call 215-409-6700 or visit constitutioncenter.org.