September 11, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 11, 2014 —One of the country’s top lawyers will return to his alma mater next week to help celebrate the American government’s foundational document.
James Silkenat, a 1969 Drury graduate and immediate past president of the American Bar Association, will help the campus observe Constitution Day. He will speak at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16, at Lay Hall Auditorium. The event is sponsored by Drury, the Springfield Bar Association and Drury’s pre-law society, Phi Alpha Delta.
Constitution Day is Sept. 17, marking the day the landmark document forming the basis of American government was ratified in 1787. Federal law requires educational institutions receiving federal funds to hold an observation of Constitution Day each year.
“Mr. Silkenat’s impressive and diverse background exemplifies the best of a liberal arts education such as that offered by Drury,” says Dr. Dan Ponder, professor of political science at Drury.
Silkenat is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute, has served as a Fellow in the U.S. State Department Scholar/Diplomat Program and was a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. His career has focused primarily on rule of law, civil rights and international law. During his tenure as president of the ABA, Silkenat focused on access to justice, immigration, jobs for lawyers, court funding, voting rights and gun violence issues.
The following day, Ponder will give a talk comparing the two main ways the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the Constitution: original intent versus the concept of a living, evolving document. The talk will be held at noon on Sept. 17 at Findlay Student Center.