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2021 Virtual Constitution 101

2021 Virtual Constitution 101 Archive

Constitution 101 takes a back-to-basics approach to learning about the U.S. Constitution – America’s defining promise. Consider both the complexity and simplicity of the world’s oldest written constitution, and gain a better appreciation of how Madison’s ideas, conceived at Montpelier, are the foundation for Americans – and, indeed, for billions of people around the world – aspiring to build a “more perfect union” with modern-day authors and scholars.

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“A System to Last for Ages”: The Constitutional Convention of 1787

with Guest Speaker Stuart Leibiger

Stuart Leibiger is professor and chair of the History Department at La Salle University. He received his BA from the University of Virginia and his MA and PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His book, Founding Friendship: George Washington, James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 1999. He has written numerous articles on the Founders for newspapers and for historical magazines, journals, and encyclopedias, and has been a historical consultant for television documentaries and museums.  He has worked on the editorial staffs of the Papers of George Washington and the Papers of Thomas Jefferson. He has taught Teacher Workshops in sixteen states* and Washington, D.C. A former Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, he edited A Companion to James Madison and James Monroe, published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2013. In 2015, he won the George Washington Memorial Award, a lifetime achievement award for the study of George Washington given annually by the George Washington Masonic Memorial Association in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2016, he received La Salle University’s Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. His book The Constitutional Convention of 1787 was published by ABC-Clio in 2019. (
*Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

from January 17, 2021

You Are Not American: Citizenship Stripping From Dred Scott to the Dreamers

with Guest Speaker Amanda Frost

Amanda Frost is the Ann Loeb Bronfman Distinguished Professor of Law and Government at American University Washington College of Law. She writes and teaches in the fields of immigration and citizenship law, as well a U.S. constitutional law. Her articles have appeared in the nation’s leading law journals, and she has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and the lower federal courts.  Her non-academic writing has been published in The Atlantic, Slate, the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today, and the L.A. Times, and she authors the “Academic round-up” column for SCOTUS blog. Her book You Are Not American: Citizenship Stripping from Dred Scott to the Dreamers (Beacon Press) is scheduled for publication in January 2021.

recorded February 21, 2021

American Constitutional Creation

with Guest Speaker Jonathan Gienapp

Jonathan Gienapp is an assistant professor of History at Stanford University. He received his B.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Principally a scholar of Revolutionary and early republican America, he has particular interests in the period’s political culture, constitutionalism, and intellectual history. He is the author of The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era (Harvard University Press, 2018), which, among other accolades, was awarded the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press and the Best Book in American Political Thought Award from the Organized Section in American Political Thought at the American Political Science Association. He has also published numerous articles, essays, and op-eds on a range of topics pertaining to early American constitutionalism and interpretation, including especially debates over constitutional originalism.

recorded March 21, 2021

Online Lecture Series: Constitutional Toolkit

Montpelier & The Center for Civic Education to learn the basics of the Constitution in this series featuring lively discussion from scholars and practitioners!

Watch the entire series on our website.

Madison's Metronome

with Guest Speaker Greg Weiner

Greg Weiner, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Assumption University, is an expert in the political thought of the American Founding. A visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, he holds a Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University before coming to Assumption. George F. Will has written that he ranks “among the most prolific and profound contemporary writers on political philosophy.” Weiner is the author of four books: Madison’s Metronome: The Constitution, Majority Rule and the Tempo of American Politics; American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan; The Political Constitution: The Case Against Judicial Supremacy; and Old Whigs: Burke, Lincoln and the Politics of Prudence. Weiner has published and lectured around the country on such topics as the political thought of James Madison, the separation of powers, the presidency, constitutional interpretation, and other issues. He has published more than 20 essays in The New York Times as well as op-eds in The Washington Post. Before his academic career, Weiner was a political aide, consultant, and writer in Washington, D.C. for nearly two decades, including several years as communications director for Senator J. Robert Kerrey of Nebraska.

recorded May 16, 2021

Lincoln's Constitution

with Guest Speaker Daniel Farber

Daniel Farber is the Sho Sato Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the Faculty Director of the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment. Professor Farber serves on the editorial board of Foundation Press. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Life Member of the American Law Institute.
Professor Farber is a graduate of the University of Illinois, where he earned his B.A., M.A., and J.D. degrees.  After graduation from law school, he was a law clerk for Judge Philip W. Tone of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and then for Justice John Paul Stevens of the Supreme Court of the United States. Professor Farber practiced law with Sidley & Austin, where he primarily worked on energy issues, before joining the University of Illinois College of Law faculty in 1978. He was a member of the University of Minnesota Law School faculty from1981 to 2002, where he was the McKnight Presidential Professor of Public Law. He also has been a Visiting Professor at the Stanford Law School, Harvard Law School, and the University of Chicago Law School.

Professor Farber has written extensively about constitutional law and history. His books include Lincoln’s Constitution, Judgement Calls: Politics and Principle in Constitutional Law, and Contested Ground: How to Understand the Limits on Presidential Power (forthcoming Fall 2021).

recorded June 20, 2021

The Constitution of Virginia: Defining the Political Community

with Guest Speaker Dick Howard

Widely acknowledged as an expert in the fields of constitutional law, comparative constitutionalism, and the Supreme Court, A. E. Dick Howard is the Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law at the University of Virginia.Professor Howard is a graduate of the University of Richmond and received his law degree from the University of Virginia. He was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. After graduating from law school, he was a law clerk to Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Active in public affairs, Professor Howard was executive director of the commission that wrote Virginia’s current constitution and directed the successful referendum campaign for its ratification. 

Professor Howard has been twice a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C. He has served as president of the Virginia Academy of Laureates and has received the University of Virginia’s Distinguished Professor Award for excellence in teaching. James Madison University, the University of Richmond, Campbell University, the College of William and Mary, and, in 2000, Wake Forest University have conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. In the fall of 2001, he was the first Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Residence at Rhodes House, Oxford.

Professor Howard is the author of a number of books, articles, and monographs. These include The Road from Runnymede: Magna Carta and Constitutionalism in America and Commentaries on the Constitution of Virginia, which won a Phi Beta Kappa prize. More recent works include Democracy’s Dawn and Constitution-making in Eastern Europe.

recorded July 18, 2021

A Conversation

with George W. Van Cleve & William Treanor

George William Van Cleve is Dean’s Visiting Scholar, Georgetown University Law Center. He was formerly Research Professor in Law and History at Seattle University School of Law. He holds a PhD from the University of Virginia, and a JD from Harvard Law School. His earlier works include A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic (2010) and We Have Not a Government: The Articles of Confederation and the Road to the Constitution (2017). Making a New American Constitution was published in 2020.

William M. Treanor is the Dean and Executive Vice President of Georgetown University Law Center, and he holds the Law Center’s Paul Regis Dean Leadership Professorship. He joined the Georgetown University Law Center in 2010 from Fordham Law School, where he had been dean of the law school since 2002 and Paul Fuller Professor. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. from Harvard University, and he has published widely, with a focus on constitutional law and legal history. 

recorded September 19, 2021

Online Lecture Series: The Five Freedoms

hosted by James Madison's Montpelier, The Center for Civic Education, and the First Amendment Museum.

Watch the entire series on our website.

The Odd Clauses

with Guest Speaker Jay Wexler

Professor Jay Wexler has taught at Boston University School of Law since 2001. He earned tenure in 2007 and was awarded the Michael Melton Award for Excellence in Teaching at the law school in 2009. Professor Wexler’s scholarship focuses on church-state law, constitutional law, environmental law, and marijuana law. His articles, essays, and reviews have been (or will soon be) published in the BYU Law Review, George Washington Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Texas Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, Washington University Law Review, and William and Mary Law Review, among other places.

Professor Wexler is also the author of six books. His most recent volume, Our Non-Christian Nation: How Atheists, Satanists, Pagans, and Others are Demanding Their Rightful Place in Public Life, was published in 2019 by Redwood Press, the trade imprint of Stanford University Press, and won a 2019 Independent Publishers Gold Medal award in the Religion category. His current book project, which is under contract with the University of California Press for publication in 2022, is entitled Weed Rules: Toward a Just, Joyous, and Sensible Marijuana Policy in a Post-Legalization Nation. Professor Wexler’s shorter pieces have appeared in places like the Boston Globe, Huffington Post, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Mental Floss, National Geographic’s NewsWatch, Newsweek, Salon, Slate, Spy, USA Today, and Vox.

recorded October 17, 2021

The Choices of the Founders

with Guest Speaker Jeanne Sheehan Zaino

Jeanne Sheehan Zaino is Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Iona College. She is the author of several books, her most recent entitled American Democracy in Crisis: The Case for Rethinking Madisonian Government was published by Palgrave Macmillan earlier this year. Dr. Sheehan Zaino is also a political contributor with Bloomberg Television and Radio where she appears regularly.

recorded November 21, 2021

James Madison: America's First Politician

with Guest Speaker Jay Cost

Jay Cost is the Gerald R. Ford Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of four books, including James Madison: America’s First Politician. He has written for numerous outlets, including National Review, The Atlantic, and the Los Angeles Times. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago. He lives in western Pennsylvania with his wife and two children. 

The Free Exercise of Religion

with Guest Speaker Jack Rakove

Jack Rakove is the William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies and professor of political science and law at Stanford, where he has taught since 1980. His principal areas of research include the origins of the American Revolution and Constitution, the political practice and theory of James Madison, and the role of historical knowledge in constitutional litigation.  

The Constitution, The Presidency, and Leadership

with Guest Speaker Eugene Hickok

Eugene Hickok taught political science and law at Dickinson College and the Dickinson School of Law for many years before entering public service. An award-winning teacher, he has published numerous books and articles on topics related to the Constitution, the presidency, Congress, and the courts. His commentary has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Education Week. He served as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education under Governor Tom Ridge and as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush. He has served as the Chairman of the Board of The Montpelier Foundation since 2020.

The Electoral College

with Guest Speaker Alexander Keyssar

Alexander Keyssar is the author of numerous books including The Right to Vote, which was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Beveridge Award from the American Historical Association. He is the Matthew W. Stirling, Jr., Professor of History and Social Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

"OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?"

with Guest Speaker Ben Sheehan

Ben Sheehan is a former award-winning executive producer at Funny or Die. His involvement in politics began in 2016 where he used digital videos to help register 50,000 new voters as executive director of Joss Whedon’s Save the Day PAC. In 2018, he founded OMG WTF (Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida) to teach voters about executive races during the midterm elections.

'Great as the Evil Is': James Madison, Slavery, and the Constitution

with Guest Speaker Quentin P. Taylor

Quentin P. Tayloris a professor in the Department of History and Political Science at Rogers State University. His books include The Republic of Genius: A Reconstruction of Nietzsche’s Early Thought, The Other Machiavelli: Republican Writings by the Author of The Prince, and The Essential Federalist: A New Reading of the Federalist Papers. He received the 2014 Scholar of the Year Award from the Oklahoma Political Science Association. Dr. Taylor earned his master’s degree in history and a doctorate in political science, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia.