A Meaningful Constitution Day

Yesterday was the celebration of the signing of the Constitution by the delegates to the convention that drafted it. It’s a day that goes generally unnoticed by most of the nation—we’re far more attached to days with far less significance. Don’t get me started on “Halloween.”

At Southeastern, we had formal recognition of this anniversary. I thought the best way to commemorate this historical event was to have those who work in the government relate their thoughts about the importance not only of the Constitution, but of Christian service in the public arena.

We were honored to have as our chapel speaker Justice Charles Canady of the Florida Supreme Court. Before he became a Supreme Court Justice, Canady served in the Florida legislature, as a United States congressman, and as general counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush. Therefore, he has had experience in all three branches of government as well as on both the state and federal levels.

Justice Canady is an expert on the Constitution. When he was in Congress, he was appointed to the Judiciary Committee and was also Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution. He also had the distinction [and I use that word deliberately] to be one of the House Managers who argued before the Senate that President Clinton should be removed from office.

In a special session with students in my department, Justice Canady made it clear that he had no hatred for President Clinton, but that his overriding concern was that no one should be above the law. If the president of the United States lies under oath and obstructs justice, he has to face the consequences as any other citizen would. The rule of law requires it.

I wanted my students to be exposed to that kind of integrity in public office. Justice Canady is a model for this generation.

Then in the evening, a panel of state legislators interacted with the students. It was a lively event. One of the other professors told me afterwards that some of the students who were not thrilled about being there before the session started were startled by the energy in the representatives and the fascinating and worthwhile discussion. All three of the legislators were evangelical Christians who were involved in politics because they felt the call of God on their lives to make a difference. One of them is now running for Congress.

That final session was a wonderful capstone for Southeastern’s Constitution Day. If only the entire nation would take the time to ponder the principles of government that were set down in that Constitution. If only our political leaders would take the time to actually read the document and follow what it says. The rule of law is essential to the maintenance of this republic.