Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Graduate Workshop - Constitution Making and Un-Making: Democratic Reform, Past and Present

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 12:00pm

THIS MONTH’S WORKSHOP EXPLORES ISSUES of state and federal constitution-making. Grounded in historical examples of constitution-making and un-making, these papers raise questions that challenge current thinking about popular sovereignty, federalism, and democratic reform.

Robinson Woodward-Burns' paper suggests that state constitutional revision can resolve national controversies, preventing amendments to the federal Constitution. It defends this claim with a case study of constitutional regulation of slavery, taxation, and the frontier in Revolutionary-era America.

Jan Smolinski's paper analyzes the process of drafting and ratification of the 1780 Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It argues that this history requires us to rethink the fundamentals of democratic theory as well as the concepts of popular sovereignty and the will of the People.