Message from the ABA President

American Bar Association President William C. Hubbard discusses the 2014 Constitution Day theme: The Bill of Rights.


About Constitution Day

On Sept. 17, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the U.S. Constitution, a written charter for a new federal government. The delegates convened in Philadelphia to develop a framework that would provide balance and freedom, taking into account federal and state interests, as well as individual human rights. Once signed, the Constitution required ratification from at least nine of the 13 states to take effect. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify, and the Constitution became the law of the land.

In 2005 Congress designated September 17 as a day "to hold educational programs for students" on the Constitution. Authorizing legislation states that all educational institutions and federal agencies receiving federal funds will hold educational programs about the Constitution on September 17-Constitution Day. Constitution Day is a day for ALL Americans to commemorate the Constitution.


The 2014 Theme: The Bill of Rights at 225

In 1789, two years after the Constitution was signed, Congress gave its approval to the Bill of Rights. The enumeration of those rights, now enshrined as the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, was added to the Constitution in response to calls from some states for specific protections against government intrusions on certain liberties. Today, the Bill of Rights stands as one of our nation's most treasured foundational documents.

To mark the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, Constitution Day 2014 is dedicated to the Bill of Rights and the impact it has had in protecting our rights domestically and in advancing the rule of law worldwide.            



Free Speech Lesson Plans

The ABA Division for Public Education has a number of helpful resources to discuss free speech topics in a clasroom setting. These include:



The ABA Division for Public Education also publishes a Pocket Guide to the United States Constitution, which makes an excellent giveaway to make your Free Speech Week celebration memorable.  

Other Free Speech Resources

The following is a selection of websites with materials and resources to assist you in planning your celebration of Free Speech Week:

However you plan to celebrate, have a happy Free Speech Week!


For Judges: A Model Constitution Day Statement

The ABA Division for Public Education encourages judges to open court on September 17, Constitution Day, with a public statement from the bench on the significance of this crucial document. The model statement we are linking to here was developed by Maryland Judiciary Public Awareness Committee for use by the Maryland judiciary. It is readably adaptable to the needs of any state or federal judiciary. 



Looking for a way to hold history in your hands? Or do you want a way to help students or other community members connect with the Constitution? The ABA offers a Pocket Guide to the U.S. Constitution



Students Share Thoughts on the Constitution

Last year we took our cameras to Kenwood Academy in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood and asked students to discuss their views on the U.S. Constitution. See what they had to say!