With recent headlining debates on health care, gun control, wars, and presidential power, it seems like everyone is an expert on the Constitution. But Dr. Michael Austin might contend that no one truly knows our forefathers’ intent when they scribed the core laws of our country.
Dr. Austin, professor and provost of Newman University in Wichita, will speak on the “Framers’ Intent” during a Constitution Day lecture at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Davis Administration Building’s Alumni Auditorium. The lecture is sponsored by the Garvey Institute of Law.
Austin’s book, “That’s Not What They Meant,” examines recent claims from both liberals and conservatives about what the framers of the Constitution actually intended with their words.
“Deriving the actual intent of the framers is extraordinarily difficult,” Austin argues, “because the framers did not themselves agree about what they were doing in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787. Ultimately, the most coherent conclusions we can draw from the historical record deal with the political process that the Constitution created, rather than with any specific issues.”
Austin contends that, “The real legacy of the founding fathers to us is a system of disagreement, debate and compromise that has kept democracy vibrant in America for more than 200 years.”
Austin is author of six books, including a bestselling college textbook on the history of ideas. His most recent article, “Why I Read ‘War and Peace’ on a Kindle (and Bought It When I Was Done)” will be published in the forthcoming collection, Why Read Literature in a Digital Age?
This Constitution Day event is free and open to the public. There will be a reception immediately following Austin’s lecture.