Marshall University is celebrating Constitution Week this year with a series of events on the Huntington campus, including the popular quoits tournament, a panel discussion on open government, a presentation from a retired trial judge who is an expert on civil rights and juvenile justice and a keynote address from MU President Stephen J. Kopp.
Constitution Week at Marshall is an annual observance to commemorate the adoption of the United States Constitution and the contributions of Chief Justice John Marshall, for whom the university is named. Constitution Week activities, sponsored by the John Deaver Drinko Academy, started Sept. 12, and will run periodically through Thursday, Sept. 22.
“Constitution Week was started by United States Senator Robert C. Byrd in order to draw attention to the important document that our system of government is based upon,” said Dr. Alan Gould, executive director of the Drinko Academy. “Included within federal legislation that was passed in 2004 was a provision requiring educational institutions that receive federal funds to set some time aside on or near the September 17th anniversary of the document’s signing to study the United States Constitution.”
Quoits, a game in which rings of iron are pitched at stakes much like horseshoes, was the favorite game of John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
The quoits competition began Sept. 13 with the finals on Wednesday, Sept. 14. The President’s Invitational Quoits Media Challenge, featuring President Stephen J. Kopp and members of the news media, gets underway at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 14.
“The President’s Quoits Media Challenge is a lot of fun,” Gould said. “They take it seriously. That was never more evident than last year when the tournament was played in a steady rain. Everybody was soaked, but they had a really good time.” The team of Tim Irr and Keith Morehouse from WSAZ-3 is the defending champion.
Prior to the President’s Quoits Media Challenge, a large cake celebrating John Marshall’s birthday will served on the Memorial Student Center plaza. President Kopp will cut the cake and the John Marshall Fife and Drum Corps will perform.
Here is a look at other Constitution Week events planned:
Monday, Sept. 19
4:30 p.m. – The winner of the Judge Dan O’Hanlon Constitution Week and John Marshall Celebration Essay Competition will be announced during a ceremony in the John Marshall Dining Room in the Memorial Student Center.
Tuesday, Sept. 20
2 p.m. – Judge Gordon A. Martin Jr. will be speaking about his book “Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote” in the Memorial Student Center Shawkey Room. Martin is a retired Massachusetts trial judge and former first assistant U.S. attorney, former special assistant to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and co-author of a civil rights case book.
Martin filed the first major voting rights case in Mississippi for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, and “Count Them One by One” is based on that case.
Wednesday, Sept. 21
2:30 p.m. – A panel discussion titled “Openness: From the routine business of state and local government to national security issues,” will take place in Room BE5 of the Memorial Student Center. Ed Dawson, editor and publisher of The Herald-Dispatch, will moderate the discussion.
Tod Boettner, founding executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy
David Herzog, a veteran investigative reporter, data journalist and educator who has reported for The Providence Journal, The Baltimore Sun and The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.
Joseph Thornton, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety
Thomas Kirk, director of the Intelligence/Fusion Center as part of Homeland Security in West Virginia
“It’s going to be a great program,” Gould said. “We have people (on the panel) who have great credentials and perhaps different opinions. It’s all about the public’s right to know and what are the limitations. How open should a state government be? It’s a great opportunity for people to come out and talk about these vital issues.”
Thursday, Sept. 22
12:30 p.m. – The Robert C. Byrd Forum on Civic Responsibility in the Francis-Booth Experimental Theatre. The guest speaker will be President Kopp.
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