Constitution Day

Rights and Wrongs: A Constitution and Citizenship Day Conference at SF State

16-17 Sep. 2019




“Rights and Wrongs: A Constitution and Citizenship Day Conference at San Francisco State University” 


            We welcome proposals for papers, presentations, panels, roundtables, teach-ins, and workshops at “Rights and Wrongs: A Constitution and Citizenship Day Conference,” which will take place on Monday and Tuesday, 16-17 September 2019.

            Over the last few years, people living in the United States have participated in far-reaching debates and discussions about the U.S. Constitution. Many of these conversations have focused on democratic governance and its relationship to state and federal elections, foreign collusion and domestic conspiracy, political and ethical corruption, voting rights, legislative redistricting, and presidential impeachment. Some have addressed core constitutional principles related to the separation of powers, checks and balances, and federal-state relationships. Others have concerned specific constitutional provisions such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, separation of church and state, privacy rights, rights to bear arms, protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, birthright citizenship, due process rights, and rights of equal protection. Meanwhile, some of the most polarizing national discussions of 2017, 2018, and 2019—about racialized policing, immigration restriction, sanctuary cities, health care, sexual harassment, LGBT rights, hate speech, and gun control—have been framed as matters of constitutional meaning and significance. Just as important and revealing are the constitutional topics that much of the country has not been considering, including the rights of indigenous, colonized, incarcerated, and institutionalized peoples on lands currently claimed by the United States.

          What have we thought about the Constitution in the past and what do we think of it today? When, how, and why have we thought about the Constitution? How has the Constitution been used as a legal and cultural touchstone in the past and present? Has the Constitution supported the expansion of citizenship, democracy, and equality or has it produced, preserved, and promoted social hierarchies? What does the Constitution reveal and obscure? Is the United States experiencing constitutional crises? Have the country’s recent political troubles exposed longstanding problems with or new threats to the U.S. constitutional order? Can the history of the U.S. Constitution serve as a resource for people troubled by today’s uses and abuses of U.S. power and politics? For those seeking social change, is the Constitution an opportunity or obstacle? Can and should it be followed, changed, modified, or abandoned? Who makes meaning out of the U.S. Constitution and what meanings are made? What are the implications of our interpretations and transformations of the U.S. Constitution?

            Please join us to discuss these and other issues at “Rights and Wrongs.” San Francisco State University has a proud tradition of sponsoring Constitution and Citizenship Day conferences. Last year’s event was sponsored by the College of Liberal and Creative Arts and cosponsored by fourteen other colleges, schools, departments, centers, and campus organizations at SF State. More than 1000 faculty, students, and community members attended the event, which featured two keynote presentations and approximately forty faculty, graduate student, and community-based presenters, representing fourteen colleges, universities, and non-governmental organizations. As was the case last year, the 2019 conference will provide multiple opportunities to reflect critically on the past, present, and future of constitutional rights and freedoms and larger questions about equality, democracy, and justice.

            Proposals for papers, presentations, panels, roundtables, teach-ins, and workshops (maximum 250 words) should be submitted by 20 June 2019 to We welcome individual and group submissions. Please submit short vitas/resumes for all participants. Recommended topics include but are not limited to:

Academic Freedom for Faculty and Students

Affirmative Action and Anti-Discrimination Law

Amending the Constitution

Asian American Legal Histories: Colonialism, Exclusion, and Internment

Asylum, Migration, and Law

Black Lives Matter and Racialized Policing

Business, Religion, and the Freedom to Discriminate

Campaign Finance, Citizens United, and the First Amendment

Citizenship’s Inclusions and Exclusions

Citizenship, Immigration, and the Census

Civil Liberties in Times of War

Colonies and the Constitution: Cuba, Guam, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Samoa

Comparative Constitutionalism in World History

Corporate Power and Constitutional Personhood

Criminalization of Homelessness, Mental Illness, Drug Use, and Sex Work

Disability Rights to Life, Liberty, and Equality

Dreamers, Deportation, and the Constitution

Educational Rights, Equal Protection, and Local Democracy

Equal Protection, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Expression

Executive Orders and the Imperial Presidency

Free Speech at Colleges and Universities

Gender, Law, and Justice

Gentrification, Displacement, and Housing Rights

Gun Control and the Second Amendment

Immigration Law and the Politics of Exclusion

Impeachment and Presidential Politics

Indigenous Treaty Rights and Political Sovereignty

Islamophobia and the Muslim Ban

Jewish-Muslim Constitutional Coalitions

Jim Crow: Past, Present, Future

Labor Law and the New Economy

Nationalism, Populism, and the Constitution

Palestine, Israel, and Campus Politics

Police Powers and Constitutional Law

Press Freedoms in the “Fake News” Era

Prisons, Prisoners, and the Carceral State

Privacy and the Constitution in the Social Media Era

Restorative Justice

Sanctuary Cities, Federalism, and the Politics of Immigration

Sexual Harassment in the Me Too Era

Slavery, Freedom, and Reparations

Socialism and the Constitution

Student Activism and Constitutional Rights

Supreme Court Appointments

Surveillance, Security, and Constitutional Law

Trans Rights and Freedoms

Voting Rights and Legislative Redistricting

War Powers and International Law

White Supremacy, Race Privilege, and the Constitution

Women’s Suffrage: Approaching the 100th Anniversary


Organizing Committee:

Conference Coordinator: Marc Stein, History Department

Rabab Abdulhadi, Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative

Soumyaa Behrens, School of Cinema

Deb Cohler, Women and Gender Studies Department

Robert Keith Collins, American Indian Studies Department

Nick Conway, Political Science Department

Marc Dollinger, Jewish Studies Department

Mali Kigasari, Paralegal Studies Program

Eric Mar, Asian American Studies Department

Blanca Maria Missé, Modern Languages and Literatures Department

Charles Postel, History Department

César "Ché" Rodríguez, Criminal Justice Studies Department

Wendy Salkin, Philosophy Department

Clare Sears, Sociology and Sexuality Studies Department

Kendra Van Cleave, J. Paul Leonard Library


Sponsors: College of Liberal and Creative Arts and Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Chair in U.S. History


Co-sponsors: To Be Announced.


Conference Website:


We will be using the hashtag #rightsandwrongs for the conference. Please feel free to use it in your tweets and tag us @RightsWrongsSF to continue the conversations online.



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Constitution Day 2017

Constitution Day 2018