Senator Robert C. Byrd launched the Byrd Center’s annual Constitution Day Address nine years ago. The lecture series is named in honor of the late Tom E. Moses, a decorated veteran of World War II and a lifelong advocate of civil rights and human rights. In his inaugural speech in this series, Senator Byrd said, “Not a day has passed in the history of this great republic in which the Constitution has not been important.” This thought was on my mind as I drafted this year’s Constitution Day address.
I could not help but be drawn to current events which reflect a growing constitutional crisis—one that may come to pass within weeks of Constitution Day, where Congress may actually shut down the government because a faction in the House is so opposed to the Affordable Healthcare Act and equally opposed to increasing the debt limit of the United States.
I am a historian not a crystal-ball gazer and I do not pretend to know what will happen in the next few weeks or months that might break the gridlock and hyper-partisanship on display in Congress. To try to make some sense of this unfolding constitutional crisis, I looked back on something a poet said to Congress on its 200th anniversary in 1989. Here is my Constitution Day address.
Sunday October 13 9:55 am ET
Saturday October 19 4:55 pm ET