The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Maggie Duncan

League of Women Voters Celebrates Constitution Day

Civic Engagement Crucial for a Healthy Democracy


This September 17 marks the 221st anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. In this landmark election year, the League is working nationwide to highlight the significance of our democratic process and reaching out to voters in an effort to encourage a better common understanding of the Constitution and the rights it ensures us.

"Constitution Day marks an important opportunity for us to reflect upon the foundations we still rely on today," said national League president Mary G. Wilson. "In a year of unprecedented civic energy, it is especially critical for us to all realize why our constitutional rights are so important."

In 2008, the League has been especially active in ensuring that the third branch of government-the judicial branch-is strong and impartial. In July, Wilson spoke before the Judiciary Council of California Commission for Impartial Courts, urging the Council to put more effort into citizen education:

"It is essential for Americans to remember key ideals such as responsive government, individual liberties and the separation of powers, especially an independent judicial branch. It is our responsibility to teach those lessons to future generations, and also to ensure our leaders are actively protecting the basic civil liberties we fought to obtain."

Leagues across the country are also highlighting this important day, thanks in part to the generous support of the Program on Constitutional and Legal Policy of the Open Society Institute. Highlights include a partnership between the Philadelphia League and the National Constitution Center to hold "America Reads", which includes taped readings of the U.S. Constitution by Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama and Republican Presidential nominee John McCain; educational events held by League members in North Orange County, CA in 11 area schools; and a special South Carolina community forum featuring South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal.

"For more than 88 years, League members all over the country have rolled up their sleeves to encourage citizen engagement and strengthen our system. Constitution Day serves as an important reminder of that work, and inspires us to keep working to build a better democracy," Wilson concluded.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, has fought since 1920 to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League's enduring vitality and resonance comes from its unique decentralized structure. The League is a grassroots organization, working at the national, state and local levels.