About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Constitutional Ethos: Liberal Equality for the Common Good"

Good afternoon. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased to welcome you to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. We’re glad you could join us for today’s program, Constitutional Ethos: Liberal Equality for the Common Good, with a very special guest, author Alexander Tsesis.

Before we get started, I want to tell you about a few other programs coming soon to the McGowan Theater.

On Thursday, October 5 at 7 p.m., a panel of judges, lawyers, and experts will explore the legacy of the four women who have served on -- and the 726 women who have argued before -- the United States Supreme Court.  Moderated by Amy Howe, panelists will include Judge Patricia Millett, Deanne Maynard, Sarah Harrington, and Marlene Trestman. This program is presented in partnership with The Constitutional Sources Project.

Then, on Friday, October 13 at noon, 7 p.m., we present James Holland’s The Allies Strike Back. In his book, Holland chronicles Germany’s invasion of Russia unfolding in the east while in the west the Americans formally enter the war, defeat Rommel in North Africa, and the bombing of Germany escalates, aiming to destroy Nazi industry and crush civilian morale. A book signing will follow the program. 

And mark your calendars for October 17 at 7 p.m. when we will be hosting our next Vietnam-related program. Journalist and author Cokie Roberts will moderate a discussion with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, directors of the PBS documentary series, The Vietnam War.

This event is one in a series of public discussions, book lectures, films, and other programs to be presented in conjunction with our upcoming exhibit, Remembering Vietnam, which opens in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery on November 10.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

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As you know, The National Archives is home to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights--collectively known as the Charters of Freedom. It is our privilege to be able to preserve and share these founding documents that have guaranteed the rights and freedoms of Americans for over 230 years.

In today’s program, Constitutional Ethos persuasively demonstrates the relevance of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution's Preamble to constitutional interpretation. Author Alexander Tsesis skillfully uses history, doctrine, and philosophical analysis to demonstrate the relevance of principle to the resolution of contemporary legal issues from healthcare, to campaign financing, and public accommodation law.

Reviewing the book, Sanford Levinson, author of Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance says, “He...develops this argument about America's 'constitutional ethos' by emphasizing...the importance [of] paying full attention to the much-too-ignored Preamble of the Constitution. It is the Preamble, after all, that establishes the point and purpose of the overall constitutional enterprise, and Tsesis consistently offers illuminating insights about the merits of fully integrating the Preamble into the way we think about the Constitution.”

And Frederick Schauer, David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Lab at the University of Virginia, says “Among the most interesting parts of this pervasively interesting book is its treatment of the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble as sources of constitutional meaning. Tsesis makes a strong case, historically and normatively, for expanding the domain of constitutional guidance.”

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Alexander Tsesis is the Raymond & Mary Simon Chair in Constitutional Law and Professor of Law at the Loyola University School of Law. He teaches Constitutional Law, First Amendment, Civil Procedure, and seminars devoted to civil rights issues and constitutional interpretation.

Professor Tsesis is a frequent presenter to law school faculties nationwide on issues involving constitutional law, free speech, and civil rights. He is the Series Editor of the Cambridge University Press Studies on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. He has been an expert witness for the Canadian Department of Justice and a legislative advisor to Senator Edward Kennedy.

His articles have appeared in many law reviews, including the Columbia Law Review, Cornell Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, and Texas Law Review.

His books include For Liberty and Equality: The Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence, We Shall Overcome: A History of Civil Rights and the Law, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom: A Legal History, and Destructive Messages: How Hate Speech Paves the Way for Harmful Social Movements

He is also the editor of The Promises of Liberty: The History and Contemporary Relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment, and he is the author of For Liberty and Equality and We Shall Overcome.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Alexander Tsesis back to the National Archives.