Panel discussion of Walter Berns' scholarship, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, September 20, 2011.
In mid-September 2011, as part of AEI’s Program on American Citizenship, we celebrated Constitution Day (September 17), the day thirty-nine members of the Constitutional Convention signed the draft constitution. In conjunction with that remembrance, we thought it appropriate to honor our longtime colleague and friend Walter Berns with a panel dedicated to discussing his scholarship on the Constitution and the American regime it supports.
For more than fifty years, Walter Berns has analyzed the American constitutional order with insight and profundity. Walter’s many works include nine major publications and scores of articles and lectures. He has written several volumes on the Constitution, specifically Freedom,Virtue and the First Amendment (1957), The First Amendment and the Future of American Democracy (1985), Taking the Constitution Seriously (1987), After the People Vote (1983, 1992, 2004), and Democracy and the Constitution (2006). And, of course, Walter’s legacy extends to the hundreds of students he has taught over the years at Cornell University, the University of Toronto, Colgate University, the University of Chicago, Yale University, Georgetown University, and Louisiana State University; these students’ admiration for and attachment to the American political order was a direct consequence of attending Professor Berns’s courses and lectures.
At this year’s event, AEI president Arthur Brooks announced that henceforth the Citizenship Program’s annual Constitution Day celebration will be named in honor of Walter Berns in appreciation of his scholarly legacy in this field and his many years of contributing to the work of the American Enterprise Institute as a resident scholar.
What follows are the formal presentations given by Jeremy A. Rabkin (professor, George Mason University School of Law), Leon R. Kass (Madden-Jewett Chair, AEI), and Christopher DeMuth (former president, AEI, and distinguished fellow, Hudson Institute), as they discussed Walter’s contribution to the study of the Constitution. Following these presentations is a brief set of remarks made by Professor Berns at the conclusion of the event.