Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Afternoon on the Lower East Side: My Daily Constitution Presents Reading the Constitution at The Living Room

This afternoon we were fortunate enough to catch some of this weekend's CMJ-related "Reading the Constitution in [sic] the Lower East Side," presented by My Daily Constitution, at the cool Ludlow Street music venue The Living Room. Yesterday afternoon the reading started at our faves Gavin and Joey DeGraw's Houston Street venue The National Underground.

This stop-and-go public reading of the Constitution, with ample time for audience questions and comments, was "designed for entertainment and exchange" with Constitutional experts and scholars like some of the law professors who were there today -- Susan Herman of Brooklyn Law School, Joseph Landau of Fordham Law School, Ekow N. Yankah of Cardozo Law School -- as well as Melissa Goodman and Alexander Abdo of the ACLU's National Security Program; Philadelphia attorney Angela M. Jones; and arts and entertainment lawyer Adam Davids.

During the 1999-2000 school year, we worked as a visiting professor in the undergraduate legal studies program at Nova Southeastern University, teaching two sections each of Constitutional History I (from the colonial period to 1870), Constitutional History II (1870 to the present), and Civil and Political Liberties.

Con Law was our favorite subject at the University of Florida law school and we got to use what we learned in our jobs as staff attorney in social policy at the Center for Governmental Responsibility and as director of academic resources at Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern.

At The Living Room, we went upstairs and found a stool in the back, got our free copy of the Constitution, and followed along in the readings of Articles IV, V and VI -- which we've always thought of as the "clean-up" articles after the big three devoted to the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the federal government.

But there's an incredible amount to be digested in every sentenceof the Constitution, and we got to hear interesting material about the Privileges and Immunities Clause, the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the Republican Form of Government Clause, the Supremacy Clause, the state admission and constitutional amendment processes, and more.

The musical talent (not to say they don't know also their Constitution) there included Amanda Thorpe, the legendary 3 Teens Kill 4, Goddess, the smart-as-a-whip Jon Sobel, the versatile Dave Mandl, and the bands Admiral Pork Brain and Greenpoint Terminal Market.

The audience was attentive and asked some interesting questions (we got to wonder aloud about the somewhat scary never-used alternate amendment process by convention), and the readers discussed contemporary issues regarding the sections read: the effect of the Supremacy Clause on California's proposed legalization of marijuana or what the Full Faith and Credit Clause means for gay marriage, etc.

It was a fascinating event, but we had papers to grade and lessons to prepare and so we left after the names of all the signers to the Constitution were read because if we let ourselves be hooked by the Bill of Rights, we knew we'd never want to leave. On our way home, we spotted Keith Richards -- in town to promote his memoir -- being photographed on Clinton Street.

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