Tag Archive for Constitution Day

Berger ’90 Lectures on “Birthright Citizenship” during Constitution Day

Bethany Berger ’90, the Thomas F. Gallivan, Jr. Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, delivered the annual Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 17 in Olin Library's Smith Reading Room. Her topic was “Birthright Citizenship on Trial — Immigration and Indigeneity.” Egged on by Donald Trump, the majority of Republican candidates have supported ending birthright citizenship. This talk looked at this 14th Amendment right, its constitutional origins, and the different things it meant for American Indians and immigrants.

Bethany Berger ’90, the Thomas F. Gallivan, Jr. Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, delivered the annual Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 17 in Olin Library’s Smith Reading Room. Her topic was “Birthright Citizenship on Trial — Immigration and Indigeneity.” Egged on by Donald Trump, the majority of Republican candidates have supported ending birthright citizenship. This talk looked at this 14th Amendment right, its constitutional origins, and the different things it meant for American Indians and immigrants.

Berger started her research on birthright citizenship after developing an interest in the different ways the system works for native people and immigrants, and the different ways the process works for these groups—and the similarities. The topic of birthright citizenship, she observed is a topic that has become "unexpectedly open to debate," she said, referring to the Republican presidential runners. "They've opened a debate about the worth of birthright citizenship and whether we really have to do it," implying that the U.S. is the only country that offers this path to citizenship.   Birthright citizenship in the U.S. came out of British Law, when British citizens immigrated to the U.S. If one was born in the U.S., you become a citizen, however this did not apply to slaves. However in 1968, the 14th Amendment was ratified and birthright citizenship became the law of the land, excluding children of Ambassadors, children of soldiers on U.S. soil (fighting against the U.S.), Native Americans and Asians. It wasn't until the 1950s that Asian and Native Americans could naturalize.

Berger started her research on birthright citizenship after developing an interest in the different ways the system works for native people and immigrants, and the different ways the process works for these groups—and the similarities. The topic of birthright citizenship has become “unexpectedly open to debate,” she said, referring to the Republican presidential candidates. “They’ve opened a debate about the worth of birthright citizenship and whether we really have to do it,” implying that the U.S. is the only country that offers this path to citizenship.
Birthright citizenship in the U.S. came out of British Law, when British citizens immigrated to the U.S. If one was born in the U.S., you become a citizen, however this did not apply to slaves. However in 1968, the 14th Amendment was ratified and birthright citizenship became the law of the land, excluding children of Ambassadors, children of soldiers on U.S. soil (fighting against the U.S.) and Native Americans. Native Americans only became birthright citizens by statute in 1924. Although Asians could be birthright citizens, those not born in the U.S. could not become citizens until restrictions on non-whites naturalizing were lifted in the 1950s.

Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, introduced Professor Berger to the audience. Berger graduated from Wesleyan in 1990 with a major in government, and from Yale Law School in 1996. After law school, she became the director of the Native American Youth Law Project at DNA-Peoples Legal Services, which serves the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and later the Managing Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York. Her articles on legal history, race, gender and jurisdiction in federal Indian law have been cited in testimony to Congress and several briefs to the Supreme Court. 

Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, introduced Professor Berger to the audience. Berger graduated from Wesleyan in 1990 with a major in government, and from Yale Law School in 1996. After law school, she became the director of the Native American Youth Law Project at DNA-Peoples Legal Services, which serves the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and later the Managing Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York. Her articles on legal history, race, gender and jurisdiction in federal Indian law have been cited in testimony to Congress and several briefs to the Supreme Court.

Berger showed a map of the world, highlighting the countries that do have laws in place to grant birthright citizenship. The Americas—South, Central, and North—were prominent. She asked the audience what these countries have in common. "They are immigrant nations; they are Colonial Nations," she said. "People come here and make it great, and traditional people lose land," she said, pointing out the paradoxical quality of the situation created by an influx of immigrants. In 1887, the Davides Allotment Act—divide up tribal lands, all Indians accepting a land allotment would become citizens—which started the boarding school for Indian children, so they would become "good citizens" and lose their native language.

Berger showed a map of the world, highlighting the countries that do have laws in place to grant birthright citizenship. The Americas—South, Central, and North—were prominent. She asked the audience what these countries have in common. “They are immigrant nations; they are Colonial Nations,” she said. “People come here and make it great, and traditional people lose land,” she said, pointing out the paradoxical quality of the situation created by an influx of immigrants. In 1887, the Davides Allotment Act—divide up tribal lands, all Indians accepting a land allotment would become citizens—which started the boarding school for Indian children, so they would become “good citizens” and lose their native language.

In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. The Friends of Olin Library annually supports and coordinates the event, which is free and open to the public. Pictured in foreground is Sam Rosenfeld, visiting assistant professor of government. 

In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. The Friends of Olin Library annually supports and coordinates the event, which is free and open to the public. Pictured in foreground is Sam Rosenfeld, visiting assistant professor of government. (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

Read more about Berger here and past Constitution Day speakers here.

Immigration and Indigeneity Topic of Constitution Day Lecture Sept. 17

Bethany Berger '90

Bethany Berger ’90 will deliver Wesleyan’s annual Constitution Day Lecture at 7 p.m. Sept. 17.

Bethany Berger ’90, professor at the University of Connecticut Law School, will lead Wesleyan’s annual Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 17. The topic is “Birthright Citizenship on Trial — Immigration and Indigeneity.”

Egged on by Donald Trump, the majority of Republican candidates have supported ending birthright citizenship. This talk looks at this 14th amendment right, its constitutional origins, and the different things it meant for American Indians and immigrants.

Berger is the Thomas F. Gallivan, Jr. Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She graduated from Wesleyan in 1990 with a major in government, and from Yale Law School in 1996. After law school, she became the director of the Native American Youth Law Project at DNA-Peoples Legal Services, which serves the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and later the Managing Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York. She is a co-author and member of the Editorial Board of Felix S. Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the foundational treatise in the field, and co-author of leading casebooks in American Indian Law and in Property Law. Her articles on legal history, race, gender and jurisdiction in federal Indian law have been cited in testimony to Congress and several briefs to the Supreme Court. She also has served as a judge for the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals and as a visiting professor at Harvard University and the University of Michigan.

In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. The Friends of Olin Library annually supports and coordinates the event.

The event takes place at 7 p.m. in the Smith Reading Room at Olin Library. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, e-mail libfriends@wesleyan.edu.

Rabban ’71 to Deliver Constitution Day Lecture Sept. 17

David Rabban '71

David Rabban ’71

David Rabban ’71 will speak on “Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the American University” during Wesleyan’s annual Constitution Day Lecture.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Smith Reading Room inside Olin Memorial Library. The lecture, hosted by the Friends of the Wesleyan Library is free of charge and open to the public.

This talk will cover the judicial treatment of free speech and academic freedom at American universities from the 1950s to the present. It will explore the First Amendment rights of professors, students and universities as institutions, and the tensions that arise when these rights conflict.

Shaw ’76 to Speak on Race in 21st Century American Life at Constitution Day Sept. 17

Ted Shaw '76

Ted Shaw ’76

Ted Shaw ’76 will speak on “Looking Backwards; Looking Forward: The Persistence of Race in 21st Century American Life” during Wesleyan’s annual Constitution Day celebration Sept. 17.

Shaw is Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University Law School and counsel at the international firm of Fulbright and Jaworski. He served as director-counsel and president of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 2004 through 2008 and as a Wesleyan Trustee for 15 years.

Shaw’s talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in Olin Library’s Smith Reading Room.

Wesleyan’s Constitution Day event is part of a nationwide observance the U.S. Department of Education has mandated for educational programs in all federally-funded institutions.

The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Wesleyan Library.

Judge Gold ’77 Speaks at Annual Constitution Day Observance

Judge Steven Gold ’77 P’09 spoke on “Imposing Sentence: The Balance Between Affording Discretion and Avoiding Disparity” at the annual Constitution Day Lecture Sept. 19. Wesleyan’s event is part of a nationwide observance the U.S. Department of Education has mandated for educational programs in all federally-funded institutions.

Judge Steven Gold ’77 P’09 spoke on “Imposing Sentence: The Balance Between Affording Discretion and Avoiding Disparity” at the annual Constitution Day Lecture Sept. 19. Wesleyan’s event is part of a nationwide observance the U.S. Department of Education has mandated for educational programs in all federally-funded institutions.