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Constitutional Scholars Recap

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A recap of the 2017 Constitutional Scholars Institute focused on The Supreme Court

Michael Smerconish, Political Broadcast Journalist and Columnist, poses with former PA Governor Ed Rendell and teachers following one of the 2017 Institute sessions

Michael Smerconish, Political Broadcast Journalist and Columnist, poses with former PA Governor Ed Rendell and teachers following one of the 2017 Institute sessions

Five knowledge-filled days in Philadelphia dedicated to civics education and constitutional study

This past July 23-28, educators from Pennsylvania and around the country converged on Philadelphia for a week’s intensive study with Constitutional Scholars and members of the judicial community. The focus: The United States Supreme Court — Law, Politics, Philosophy, and Judicial Independence.  Together, attendees explored the historical, legal, philosophical, and political evolution of the Supreme Court. The program consisted of strong content sessions and activities as well as the skills and tools teachers need to apply the material in the classroom.

Whether you attended or want access to some of the information you missed, you’re invited to view and download our 2017 report. It’s complete with speakers bios, photos, teachers’ comments, and rankings of the information presented.

Access the 2017 Constitutional Scholars Institute Report

Seminar topics included:

Judge Marjorie Rendell headed up a panel on "Judges and Judicial Independence"

Judge Marjorie Rendell headed up a panel on “Judges and Judicial Independence”

  • The Supreme Court – The framers’ original vision for, and the evolving history of the highest federal court in the U.S.
  • Getting to Nine – How the balanced court of the last three decades has resolved and communicated cases
  • Solving the Constitutional and Legal Puzzles – How individual Supreme Court justices decide cases and how to read and understand their opinions
  • The Future of Judicial Independence – The effect of political controversies on the Supreme Court e.g. the battle over Robert Bork’s confirmation; the Clarence Thomas confirmation fight; Bush v. Gore; and the battle over filling the Scalia vacancy
  • The Adoption of Judicial Philosophies and Ideologies –The battle between the “Originalists” and the “Living Constitutionalists”
  • Beyond MAPP and Griswold – Examine the changing nature of physical and information sears and seizures and personal autonomy privacy
  • Beyond Roe v. Wade – The Future of the constitutional right of abortion
  • Beyond Hobby Lobby – Exploring the courts free exercise of religion and establishment of religion cases and concepts
  • Beyond Citizens’ United and Snyder v. Phelps – The Future of the Roberts court’s decisions in the first amendment free speech area
  • The Future of Affirmative action – Exploring the limits of Bakke and Brown v. Board of Education
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Akil Amar from Yale University lead a discussion on “Timeless Lessons on the American Constitution”

2017 Speakers included:

  • Akhil Reed Amar, Yale University
  • Michael Gerhardt, UNC School of Law
  • Edward G. Rendell, 45th Governor of Pennsylvania
  • Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, Federal Judge for the Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • Francis Graham Lee, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Saint Joseph’s University.
  • Bruce Murphy, Lafayette College
  • Helena Silverstein, Lafayette College
  • Michael Smerconish, Political Broadcast Journalist and Columnist

Some comments about this year’s Institute include…

  • I love the mixed issue Hypotheticals! Every minute spent with Akhil and/or Judge Rendell was golden!
    This is such a fantastic experience! I am so thrilled to be part of this program. I am very thankful to the Rendell Center for the opportunity. I have so many ideas for new lessons and new approaches to old lessons. The Resources made available are a huge help.
  • I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to attend this seminar. I can’t thank the Rendell Center enough for providing scholarships for Pittsburgh teachers. This was the single most beneficial professional learning experience I have ever attended. To be able to learn from and interact with the best constitutional scholars was a fantastic opportunity. Judge Rendell is so passionate about civics education and that makes me want to be a better teacher; she explained (so eloquently) things that I can now share with my students.
  • Every single presenter provided me with something valuable that I can in turn, share with my students. A sincere thank you to everyone.
    Thank you for a great week of learning!! Exceeded my expectations
  • This program treats us as professionals, respects teachers, and equips us to go back to school refreshed and enthused.
  • Thank YOU! It was so clear that you each put so much thought, effort and care into each element of this institute. From the professional, personal service to the content-rich, engaging sessions. I am amazed at how wonderful this institute was. The materials, content, conversations and experiences were relevant, useful, and current. Topics that I can implement immediately! I have never felt as appreciated and respected as an educator and believe me I needed it. Thank you!!
  • I attend a lot of professional development and this program shows how it can be done well.
  • This is one of the best institutes I have ever attended. Thank you for your expertise, your humor, your competence – everything.

Read the Constitutional Scholars Institute Report – 2017

Read the Constitutional Scholars Institute Report – 2016

Read the Constitutional Scholars Institute Report – 2015

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