Cameron University will join colleges and universities across the nation to celebrate Constitution Day on Tuesday, September 17, with “The First Amendment & Civil Civic Discourse on Campus,” a presentation by Rick Tepker, Floyd & Irma Calvert Chair of Law and Liberty and Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Constitution Day is a federal observance that celebrates the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788 and encourages all Americans to consider the enduring legacy of the Constitution in their everyday life. The event takes place in the McCasland Ballroom at 2 p.m. and is open to the public at no charge. Refreshments will be served.
“Arguing about our rights is the real national pastime,” Tepker says. “The First Amendment guarantees our right to argue, and it constrains public education as it sponsors and moderates civil, civic discourse. American colleges and universities must outgrow platitudes and generalities in order to respect and protect the rights of persons with differing points of view.”
Named the first Calvert Chair of Law and Liberty in September 1998, Tepker teaches courses in the areas of constitutional law, employment law and equal employment opportunity. He is the first member of the OU law faculty to appear, argue and win a case before the United States Supreme Court. In 1987, the Court appointed Tepker as counsel for petitioner, an indigent juvenile sentenced to death. Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815 (1988) was the first case in which an American court overturned a death sentence on constitutional grounds because the condemned was too young at the time of the crime.
Tepker has also served as professor-in-residence for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During his tenure with the EEOC, he represented the agency in U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning university academic freedom in Title VII cases (Univ. of Pennsylvania v. EEOC, 493 U.S. 182 (1990)) and pension benefit plans under the federal age discrimination statute (Public Employee Retirement System v. Betts, 492 U.S. 158 (1989)).
Cameron’s observance of Constitution Day is sponsored by the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, the Department of Social Sciences, the Lawton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and CU Lectures and Concerts.