Today@Sam Article

Constitution Day Presentations Set For Sept. 13-14

Sept. 8, 2017
SHSU Media Contact: Lane Fortenberry

Sam Houston State University will hold its 2017 Constitution Day Keynote Address and presentations on Sept. 13-14 in Academic Building IV Room 220 (Olson Auditorium) and the Lowman Student Center Theater.

The events are sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean’s Office, Departments of History and Political Science, and American Democracy Project.

Dale Carpenter, chair of constitutional law at Southern Methodist University, will give the keynote address on Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. in the Olson Auditorium. 

He will present “The Story of Lawrence v. Texas: How a Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans.”

The presentation explores the information on the Lawrence case, including the background story on the men and their arrests and the behavior of the police. It also covers the involvement of activists, the way lawyers sharpened arguments for the courts and the way the courts themselves reacted to the legal challenge to the Texas sodomy law.

Mike Vaughn, SHSU’s College of Criminal Justice’s co-director of the Institute for Legal Studies, will kick off Sept. 14’s presentations from 9:30-11 a.m. in the LSC Theater. He will present “The Sixth Amendment Right to An Attorney.”

This presentation will focus on recent Supreme Court cases that focus on the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, including ineffective counsel claims related to plea bargaining, forfeiture of funds and the non-testing of DNA evidence.

Wesley Phelps, assistant professor of history, will present “Morales v. Texas: The Texas Constitution, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the Struggle to be Legally Gay,” from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the LSC Theater.

The presentation covers the legal strategies of gay and lesbian rights activists in Texas as they attempted to appeal to the state constitution to overturn the state sodomy law. The case covers when two gay men and three lesbians filed suit against the Texas attorney general in 1989, claiming state statute 21.06, known as the homosexual conduct law, which violated the Texas constitution’s guarantees of privacy and protection from gender discrimination. 

Kenneth McIntyre, associate professor of political science, will present “The Rule of Law & Two Concepts of Liberty,” from 12:30-2 p.m. in the LSC Theater.

The presentation argues that law is best understood as analogous to rules which condition human choices as opposed to the analogy of commands or policies which direct or coerce human choices. There is a freedom inherent in the conception of law as rules, which is absent from the latter conceptions. 

He will also contend that, given the conclusion about the character of law, governments should place a high priority on securing the negative liberty of their citizens, and should avoid attempting to enforce any conception of positive liberty.

Finally, Charles Heath, associate professor of history, will present “The Mexican Magna Carta at 100: The Centennial of the Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1917,” from 2-3:30 p.m. in the LSC Theater.

The presentation covers the alterations to the economic and social systems of Mexico, especially Articles 3, 27 and 123, dealing with education, agrarian reform and worker’s rights, respectively. The discussion will also briefly cover the history of the constitutional convention and the constitution’s meaning as a living document today. 

For more information, contact Thomas Cox, associate professor of history, at

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