September 26, 2013, DSU Ballroom, 6:00 p.m.

"The Limits of Executive Power: Is the NSA's Domestic Surveillance Constitutional?"


Professors David Cole and Eric Posner will be debating the NSA's Domestic Surveilance Program on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. This should be a great debate!
Eric Posner
Eric Posner is Kirkland & Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Aaron Director Research Scholar at the University of Chicago. His books include Law and Social Norms (Harvard 2000); Chicago Lectures in Law and Economics (Foundation 2000) (editor);Cost-Benefit Analysis: Legal, Economic, and Philosophical Perspectives (University of Chicago 2001) (editor, with Matthew Adler); The Limits of International Law (Oxford 2005) (with Jack Goldsmith); New Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis (Harvard 2006) (with Matthew Adler); Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty, and the Courts (Oxford 2007) (with Adrian Vermeule); Climate Change Justice (Princeton 2010) (with David Weisbach); and The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic (Oxford 2011) (with Adrian Vermeule). He has published articles on bankruptcy law, contract law, international law, cost-benefit analysis, constitutional law, and administrative law, and has taught courses on international law, foreign relations law, contracts, employment law, bankruptcy law, secured transactions, and game theory and the law. His current research focuses on international law, immigration law, and foreign relations law. He is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.

David Cole
David Cole teaches constitutional law, national security, and criminal justice at Georgetown University Law Center.  He is also a volunteer attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, the legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and a commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. He has been published widely in law journals and the popular press, including the Yale Law Journal, California Law Review, Stanford Law Review, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times.  He is the author of six books.  Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror, published in 2007, and co-authored with Jules Lobel, won the Palmer Civil Liberties Prize for best book on national security and civil liberties.   Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism, received the American Book Award in 2004.  No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System was named Best Non-Fiction Book of 1999 by the Boston Book Review, and best book on an issue of national policy in 1999 by the American Political Science Association.  His most recent book is The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable (2009).

What do you think about the NSA's Domestic Surveillance program? Is the program constitutional? Come and find out on September 26, 2013.


Articles and resources for Eric Posner and David Cole

Essential resources for self-study:

The Constitution Page is an exhaustive web source for both a general constitutional overview as well as for detailed discussion of specific clauses and amendments.The Federalist Papers

Once the Constitution was written, it had to be adopted. In the late 1700’s the methods of marketing were different than today, but the proposed new Constitution had to be sold to the public to win ratification by the states. The Federalist Papers are a collection of essays (what today we would call “op-ed” pieces) that were published in two New York newspapers during the campaign for ratification of the Constitution. The collected essays wonderfully explain the issues that the Constitution writers faced and the thinking that went behind the different provisions of the Constitution.

United States Constitution

The full text of the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights was a series of amendments to the original Constitution. The amendments were considered to be necessary additional safeguards for individual rights as we moved from the weak unity of the Confederation to the (relatively) much stronger central government of the Constitution.

Other resources related to Constitution Day:

The day of Monday, September 17, 2013, has been designated by Congress as Constitution Day in the United States. CNU's Center for American Studies will be organizing activities during September to observe the occasion and promote study of the Constitution.


The Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, the federal document ratified in 1781 which established the first alliance of the newly independent States. With the arrival of a quorum of State delegates on May 25, the convention officially began and the first order of business included the unanimous selection of George Washington as president of the Convention. It quickly became clear to most of the delegates that the only way to correct the defects of the existing Confederation was to draft a new constitution. A final vote on the proposed Constitution was finally held after four months of vigorous debate.
On September 17, 1787, the delegates signed the final draft of the proposed Constitution. On the same day, Washington, as president of the Convention, wrote a letter to the president of the Continental Congress submitting the draft Constitution for the consideration of the States assembled. "In all our deliberations," Washington wrote, "we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved the prosperity, felicity, safety, [and] perhaps our national existence." While he admitted that the Constitution did not fully satisfy every delegate in every respect, still "the Constitution, which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable."
After careful consideration, on September 28, the Continental Congress passed a unanimous resolution of support for the proposed Constitution and forwarded copies of the Convention's Report, the proposed Constitution, and Washington's letter to the Governors of each of the States, requesting that the same be transmitted to the State Legislature and that a State Convention be called to review and ratify the proposed Constitution. 
The proposed Constitution was contentiously debated in ratification conventions held in each State over the course of a year. Finally, on September 13, 1788, the Continental Congress formally announced that the Constitution of the United States had been duly ratified by the People in the requisite number of States (under Article VII) and declared that the offices under the new Constitution should be filled by March of 1789. With the Constitution finally in effect as the foundation for the union of States, the next - and greatest phase - in the American Experiment began.
Constitution Day became a formal national holiday as a result of an amendment to the existing United States legal code, passed in 2004, calling for the specific designation and urging educational institutions to observe the day by promoting the "instruction of citizens in their responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the United States and of the State and locality in which they reside."