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Michael McCann

Michael McCann

Photo courtesy of: Center for Law, Justice and Culture

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Constitution Day lecture Sept. 19

Lecture debunks the myth of rights


President of the Law and Society Association Michael McCann will deliver a lecture, "The U.S. Constitution and the Myth of Rights" in celebration of Constitution Day on Monday, Sept. 19. The address will take place at noon in Baker University Center Ballroom A.

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Center for Law, Justice and Culture is sponsoring the event.

McCann’s lecture will focus on "The Myth of Rights," an idea and piece of political science literature that examines the gap between constitutional rights and inequalities throughout society.

"There’s mythical belief that constitutional rights are tangible things we possess. People assume that the Constitution promised free speech, so it’s given," explained John Gilliom, professor and chair of the Political Science Department. "'The Myth of Rights' shows it’s much more problematic than that. Rights take work. Some people have rights, others don’t."

The lecture will pull apart the myths surrounding the founding document and tie them together again to create a re-understanding of the Constitution. It will also demonstrate how constitutional rights could be utilized to create a more equal society.

"The issue of constitutional rights is one of perennial importance in American society," said Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit. "We are fortunate in being able to host Professor McCann as our Constitution Day speaker. His talk will examine common presumptions about constitutional rights and give us an opportunity to expand our understanding of the Constitution."

McCann served as founding director of Law, Societies and Justice Program and was the chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Washington. He currently serves as the Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship at the University of Washington.

"There is one image of the Constitution that we celebrate and another image that Americans have that’s more skeptical," said Gilliom.