Amending the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century

April 11, 2024
7:30 p.m.–9:00 p.m. ET

Beau Breslin and Henry L. Chambers, Jr. discussed Jefferson and Madison’s debate about periodic constitutional renewal. Jefferson wanted each generation to write its own Constitution; Madison favored an enduring Constitution. It is a historical debate that today opens up different proposals for constitutional change. This event was organized by the Network for Responsible Public Policy.



BEAU BRESLIN is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Professor of Political Science at Skidmore College. Skidmore’s Dean of the Faculty from 2011 to 2018, Breslin has called the College in Saratoga Springs, NY his professional home for 25 years. He is the author of numerous articles on topics ranging from constitutional theory to the death penalty to restorative justice. He has also published three books: The Communitarian Constitution (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), From Words to Worlds: Exploring Constitutional Functionality (The Johns Hopkins Series in Constitutional Thought, 2009), and his latest, A Constitution for the Living: Imagining How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law (Stanford University Press, 2021).  He holds a B.A. in political science from Hobart College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in constitutional thought from the University of Pennsylvania.

HENRY L. CHAMBERS, JR. is Professor of Law and Austin E. Owen Research Scholar at the University of Richmond.  He teaches and writes in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, constitutional law, criminal law, and law and religion.  His upcoming essay, “Douglass, Lincoln, and Douglas before Dred Scott: A Few Thoughts on Freedom, Equality, and Affirmative Action,” considers how past visions of equality and inequality continue to arise in today’s affirmative action discussions. Recent appointments include serving as the vice-chair of the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, as a member of the Virginia Governor’s Commission to Examine Racial and Economic Inequity in the Law, and as an advisor to the Virginia Model Jury Instruction Committee. Chambers has lectured on constitutional law in various venues, including through the We The People program, which provides civic education instruction to school teachers and the public; at James Madison’s Montpelier; and at the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville. He is the editor of the pocket pamphlet, American Legacy: The United States Constitution and Other Essential Documents of American Democracy, 2nd Edition (Center for Civic Education 2023).


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