National holiday inspires LECOM to educate students about U.S. Constitution

Were you aware that Sept. 17, is a national holiday?

If you answered “no,” you are like many Americans who don’t recognize Constitution Day or know the significance behind this relatively new holiday said Michael Rigelsky, Esq., an Ohio-based attorney with the firm Roetzel & Andress.

Michael Rigelsky, Esq., an Ohio-based attorney with the firm Roetzel & Andress, spoke to Erie students about American rights to privacy as stated by the U.S. Constitution.

But according to Rigelsky, who was one of four guest speakers invited to inspire students among the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine's three campuses, discussing this important piece of American history is beneficial since it affects us all.

Rigelsky stressed that one of the most significant purposes of the U.S. Constitution is its ambiguous, but interpretable “guide” to American privacy rights. Despite the fact that “privacy” is nowhere to be found in the U.S. Constitution, he explains that throughout American history there have been Supreme Court cases — Buck v. Bell, Skinner v. Oklahoma, Griswold v. Connecticut, and Roe v. Wade — that have amended the U.S. Constitution, granting the public more personal privacy rights, including the right to decide, the right to be and feel secure in one’s home, and the right to accept or refuse medical treatment.

“Today is about preserving democracy. In order to keep this great experiment of democracy going we have to understand where our rights come from and why they are protected. This is about understanding the rules, understanding where they come from, and engaging in honest debate and discussion, because only by doing so can we keep our Republic intact,” said Rigelsky.

Regan Shabloski, assistant dean of clinical education at LECOM, discussed the history of the U.S. Constitution on Friday, Sept. 16.

At LECOM’s Bradenton campus, Mary Hawk, Esq., a principal at the law firm of Porges, Hamlin, Knowles and Hawk, PA, spoke on the Constitutional challenges to the Affordable Healthcare Act that was passed by Congress in 2010.

Hawk told first- and second-year medical students that the majority of the challenges involve the Act’s requirement that individuals purchase health insurance. She said most of the reforms in the Act will start taking place in 2014.

“Seventeen states have passed legislation that directly contradicts the Federal Act,” she said.

Hawk noted two cases that have played out in the Federal Courts — one in which the insurance mandate was declared constitutional (Sixth Circuit, Cincinnati, OH) and another that declared the mandate unconstitutional (11th Circuit Court, Atlanta). Another case in the District of Columbia circuit court is pending.

Law clerk Kimberly Cook, Jessica Aun (OMSII), Mary Hawk, Esq., Assistant Dean of Preclinical Education Mark Coty, PhD and Anik Cockroft (OMSII), participated in Constitution Day in Bradenton, Fla.

In addition to Rigelsky and Hawk, LECOM Assistant Dean of Clinical Education Regan Shabloski discussed the history of the U.S. Constitution in Erie; while Irv Freeman, vice president of LECOM at Seton Hill, spoke to first-year medical students about “Substantive Due Process” in regards to the Supreme Court case Abigail Alliance v. von Eschenbach.

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.

Though it is a relatively new holiday, more educational institutions have taken major steps to incorporate discussion about the U.S. Constitution and the government.

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, LECOM School of Dental Medicine and LECOM School of Pharmacy offer innovative and affordable education in osteopathic medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. From campuses in Erie, Pennsylvania, Greensburg, Pennsylvania and Bradenton, Florida, LECOM provides student-centered pathways to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals. Prepare yourself for medicine as your life’s profession.

September 19, 2011
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