Constitution Day Debate at Christopher Newport

Each fall the Center for American Studies at Christopher Newport University hosts an annual Constitution Day Debate on a topic of current public policy interest. These debates are designed both to explore some of the most pressing Constitutional issues of the day and to restore students’ faith in the civility of public discourse in the United States. Past events can be found on the Jack Miller Center’s Constitution Day events page.

This year’s debate will focus on the topic “Freedom of Speech in Wartime and Peace.” Although U.S. citizens are guaranteed freedom in speech in the First Amendment of the Constitution, this freedom is often at odds with the need for the U.S. government to provide security for its citizens. This tension has created controversies in American history since its inception, beginning as early as 1798 with the passage of the Sedition Act, and continuing to the present day with debates over the implications of Wikileaks data dumps by Edward Snowden and others. What are the limits to free speech during wartime? Should these restrictions be eased during peacetime? Does the long-standing War on Terrorism change conceptions of what information can and should be restricted indefinitely? To debate this topic, the Center for American Studies has engaged two of the top legal scholars in the nation, both of whom are recognized experts on the extent of (and limits to) U.S. authority during wartime permitted by the Constitution.


John Yoo, Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law, University of California at Berkeley School of Law
John Yoo is a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, where he has taught since 1993. From 2001-03, he served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security, and the separation of powers. He served as general counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from 1995-96, where he advised on constitutional issues and judicial nominations. Professor Yoo received his B.A., summa cum laude, in American history from Harvard University. He clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit and Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Yoo has published widely on foreign affairs, national security, and constitutional law, and is author of The Powers of War and Peace: Foreign Affairs and the Constitution after 9/11 (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account of the War on Terror (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006).

Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Chair of Public Interest Law, George Washington University
Professor Turley is the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at George Washington University, the youngest chaired professor in the school’s history. He is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has written over three dozen academic articles that have appeared in a variety of leading law journals at Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, and other schools and has published multiple articles national media outlets. In 2005, Turley was given the Columnist of the Year award for Single-Issue Advocacy for his columns on civil liberties by the Aspen Institute and the Week Magazine. His award-winning blog is routinely ranked as one of the most popular legal blogs by the legal rating organization AVVO.

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