Purdue University faithfully recognizes Constitution Day annually with educational seminars, trivia events, videos, and online games. However, few participants in the “patriotic holiday” are aware that Purdue has it’s hands tied in the matter.
Constitution Day, as we know it today, was created in 2004 by the Omnibus Spending Bill¹, a 658 page bill that was supposed to denote congressional spending for that year.
The amended section of the spending bill actually offers amendment to a part of the US code that deals with national observances². It provides that every single educational institution that receives federal funding (basically every educational institution) must observe Constitution Day with an “educational program on the US Constitution on September 17th of such year for the students served by the educational institution.”¹
However, the 10th amendment holds that rights not given to the federal government are reserved to the states. Education, because it is not at all touched on within the constitution, is usually considered one of these rights delegated to the states.
If you view Constitution Day, and more specifically the educational mandate, with this interpretation of the 10th Amendment in mind, it looks to be a fairly obvious overstep of the federal government beyond its legally granted powers.
It seems that Constitutional Day may in fact be unconstitutional, though I don’t forsee it getting it’s day in court any time soon. While you celebrate this September 17th, try not to let the idea of an unconstitutional holiday that supports the Constitution ruin the fun for you.
¹(Pub.L 108-447, 118 Stat. 3344, U.S.C. 111)
²(36 U.S.C. §§ 106-108)