Prof. Colin Starger, colleagues hail Alternative Constitution Day

Professor Colin Starger contributed a post to the Race and the Law Prof Blog about Alternative Constitution Day, which celebrates a new narrative — a “People’s” narrative — informed by the post-Civil War Reconstruction Amendments, the last of which was ratified on Feb. 3, 1870 — 146 years ago today.

This narrative departs from the Confederate, states’ rights approach that, Starger and his colleagues Peggy Cooper Davis and Aderson Francois say, continues to haunt civil rights jurisprudence.

Writes Starger: “We oppose this ‘States’ rights’ mode of interpreting the Constitution because we believe it misunderstands the revolutionary nature of the change to our constitutional order wrought by the Civil War and resulting Reconstruction Amendments. Alternative Constitution Day is a way to correct this misunderstanding and to celebrate what we see as the ‘true birth’ of our modern commitment to human dignity. We also hope it might help spark further conversation. […]

“The People’s narrative is one in which the nation rejected both slavery and its assault on human dignity and altered its slavery-tolerating Constitution to give the Federal government power to protect the People’s rights. This more optimistic story involves guarantees of national citizenship and national protection of citizens’ rights. This is the narrative animating the Reconstruction Amendments.”

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