Ask your average first- or second-year medical student about Constitution Day and one is likely to be met with a reflective pause, followed by a simple question: “What is Constitution Day?”
Constitution Day is an American federal holiday that recognizes the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. It is observed on Sept. 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the document in 1787. The law establishing Constitution Day as a holiday was created in 2004. In May 2005, the U.S. Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.
|Michael J. Rigelsky, Esq., discusses the Constitution and privacy rights with LECOM School of Pharmacy students.|
Though it is a relatively new holiday, more and more educational institutions have taken major steps to incorporate discussion about the U.S. Constitution and the government. At LECOM locations in Erie, Pa., and Bradenton, Fla., guest speakers helped discuss the role of the Constitution in public policy while offering insights into how the document affects us on a daily basis.
On Sept. 17, Michael J. Rigelsky, Esq., visited the school and met with osteopathic and pharmacy students to discuss the 220-year-old document and the government it helped establish.
Rigelsky took time to talk about the Constitution and how it applies to people living in 21st century America. Rigelsky, who practices in the litigation and business law sections of Manchester, Bennett, Powers & Ullman, L.P.A., provided common situations that illustrated how Constitutional rights are exercised and how U.S. citizens are protected – or not protected – by those laws.
“How many of you think the Constitution provides you with a right to privacy?” he asked. Though students offered varying theories about a person’s privacy rights in America, Rigelsky was quick to point out just how complex the government’s application of the Constitution has become over the course of 220 years.
|Major Regan Shabloski, D.O., quizzes first-year medical students about the Constitution.|
Throughout his interactive presentation, he regularly called on students to get their impression of how the Constitution works, specifically in regard to the creation of legislation and the balance of power between the three branches of government.
Major Regan Shabloski, D.O., Medical Corps, Pennsylvania Army National Guard and Director of Clinical Education at LECOM, discussed the Constitution with the College of Medicine class of 2012. During his presentation, Dr. Shabloski referenced several instances from his own military and civilian experiences.
“As you can see, I have a unique perspective on the Constitution as a military officer sworn to support and defend it against all enemies, both foreign and domestic,” he said.
Dr. Shabloski supplemented his own experiences with a series of trivia questions about the Constitution. Students attempted to answer questions about the framing of the Constitution, the origin of the title “President of the United States” and in which order the states ratified the original document.
Attorney Mary Lindstrom, a healthcare attorney for Blalock, Walters, Held & Johnson, PA, gave the keynote address at LECOM Bradenton's Constitution Day ceremonies.
|Attorney Mary Lindstrom delivered the keynote address at LECOM Bradenton.|
In her speech to LECOM medical and pharmacy students, Lindstrom noted that there are different ways to interpret the Constitution.
"The Constitution is the framework for how we operate as a society," she said. "Constructionists interpret the Constitution to the letter. Others believe in a living, breathing Constitution, one that adapts to the way society changes."
She also noted some interesting facts about the Constitution:
• The Constitution does not specifically mention a right to privacy. However, Supreme Court decisions over the years have established that the right to privacy is a basic human right, and as such is protected by virtue of the 9th Amendment.
• The word "democracy" does not appear in the Constitution.
• George Washington and James Madison were the only two Presidents to sign the Constitution.