Cornell University

April 30 2010

"Up to You"

Konvitz Lecture attendees urged to reimagine the U.S. Constitution

Progressive reformers who "imagined audacious things" – including a democracy without slavery – are responsible for forming the U.S. Constitution, Akhil Reed Amar said as he presented the Konvitz Lecture.

"It's really up to you," he told the audience, if the document is reimagined to reflect growing issues such as global competition for jobs and economic disparity and to support a world democracy vision.

More than 70 people attended Tuesday's talk in Ives Hall by Amar, a leading authority on constitutional law and Yale’s Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science.

The New Yorkers and others who crafted the original constitution lived in a nation protected by geography. Vast oceanic moats helped keep the world at bay, he said.

Now, though, the world is flatter, Amar said. Climate change, viruses and other threats ignore boundaries and demand fresh looks at the document which served to keep the nation free for centuries.

The lecture can be seen at http://cornellmediasite.cit.cornell.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=997031f0cc834ccf8abe2e68001d8a28.

The annual Konvitz Lecture is named in honor of the late Professor Milton Konvitz, an ILR School founder and a scholar of constitutional and labor law, and civil and human rights.

Konvitz was a professor at ILR and Cornell Law School from 1946 until retiring in 1973.

The lecture was founded in 2006 by Joan Jacobs '54 and Irwin Jacobs '56. Joan Jacobs graduated from the College of Human Ecology. Irwin Jacobs graduated from Cornell with a degree in electrical engineering.

The couple, from San Diego, Calif., continues to sponsor the event.