Constitution Day Lecture
Today, September 17th marks 231 years since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. We invite you to join the College of Law’s celebration of that event with our annual Constitution Day Lecture. The Hon. Robert L. Wilkins of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will discuss the history of the 14th Amendment and its role in jurisprudence in the lecture “Honoring the 150th Anniversary of the 14th Amendment and its Ohio Founding Father”. The event will be held at 12:15 p.m in Room 114.
The Fourteenth Amendment, which addresses citizenship rights and the rights of citizens, is pivotal to modern jurisprudence and has been since its adoption in the aftermath of the Civil War. John Bingham is properly thought of as the father of this amendment, however, he often remains in its shadow. As we celebrate the amendment’s 150th anniversary, Judge Wilkins will explore John Bingham’s personal history and his role in shaping the language of, and adoption of, the amendment.
About the Lecturer:
The lecturer, the Hon. Robert L. Wilkins, is a former staff attorney and special litigation chief for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, as well as a partner at law firm Venable LLP, handling white-collar defense, intellectual property and complex civil litigation matters. During his tenure with the Public Defender Service and in private practice, Judge Wilkins served as the lead plaintiff in Wilkins, et al. v. State of Maryland, a landmark civil rights lawsuit that inspired nationwide legislative and executive reform of police stop-and-search practices and the collection of data regarding those practices.
Judge Wilkins also had a key role in the establishment of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, serving as the chairman of the Site and Building Committee of the Presidential Commission whose work led to the Congressional authorization of the museum and the selection of its location. In his book “Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100-Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture”, Judge Wilkins shares how his curiosity about why there wasn’t a national museum dedicated to African American history and culture became an obsession for him. Long Road to Hard Truth chronicles the early history, when staunch advocates sought to create a monument for Black soldiers 50 years after the end of the Civil War and in response to the indignities of the time, including lynching, segregation, and the slander of the film Birth of a Nation. The movement evolved to envision creating a national museum, and he follows the obstacles through the decades. Today, the museum stands as a showcase of the many ways the African American experience has helped shape the nation.
He is a graduate of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Harvard Law School. As a practicing lawyer, he was named one of the “40 under 40 most successful young litigators in America” by the National Law Journal and one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years” by the Legal Times. </br>