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As of October 1, 2011 the Jennings Project blog has moved and joined forces with Constitution Daily, the Center’s daily digest of smart conversation on the Constitution. All new posts will be published there, so be sure to subscribe and follow Constitution Daily on Twitter. If you are interested in submitting a post to Constitution Daily, please email Stefan Frank at

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Welcome Message from Todd Brewster

Welcome to the blog of the Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution. We hope you will find this site to be a simple way for you, as a journalist, to stay on top of constitutional trends, post your own thoughts on the intersection of the Constitution with your work, and to connect to experts eager to help you understand legal developments here and around the world before they hit the mainstream press.

What is the Peter Jennings Project? For the past three years, the Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution, named for the late ABC News anchor, has been offering a dynamic weekend immersion experience in the Constitution and constitutional law. After passing through a rigorous application process, interested journalists come to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia for a mid-winter weekend of stimulating talk, provocative programming and challenging case-law workshops. So far the Jennings Project has produced more than one hundred “Jennings Fellows,” who carry the message of the project forward into their work, be it newspaper, magazine, broadcast or new media journalism. This blog was, in fact, driven by the Jennings Fellows’ desire to have an additional constitutional resource available to them throughout the year. While our core constituency will be these Fellows, we decided to open the blog to all interested journalists.

As the Jennings Project director, I will serve as editor of the blog. Feel free to send me your ideas, (at, whether these are actual content intended to be shared with the Jennings blog community or comments on how we might improve the blog structure itself. This is our first attempt at such a venture; we will benefit from your help.

The mission of this blog is an extension of the Jennings Project mission itself: that is, we aim to inject constitutional dialogue into all parts of the "paper" (that increasingly archaic term), and by so doing help Americans recognize the Constitution as not only a legal document describing the structure of our government and the freedoms it protects, but as a crucial element in our national identity, informing decisions on health care, science, religious exercise, national service, real estate, sports, medicine, education, immigration, domestic and foreign policy and, well, the list is endless. It is, to coin our persistent tag line, to see "the Constitution in our midst."

To that end, we will be inviting guest bloggers to contribute to our site on a formal basis. Barry Schaller, who retired as a justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2008,
has made his initial post below. I met Justice Schaller when both he and I were on the Wesleyan University faculty a few years ago. But while he was already a longstanding appellate judge with a distinguished pedigree, Justice Schaller was not teaching law; he was leading students in the study of his other favorite topic, bioethics.

Semi-retired, Justice Schaller is now on the faculty of Yale Law School, Wesleyan, and Trinity College and if you entered one of his classes at any of these fine institutions, you would be likely to find him talking less about law in the traditional sense than about the transformation of "personhood" through gene enhancement therapies and questions of equal protection posed by public health strategies that, say, prioritize treatments for some populations over others. Such is the stuff of “future justice,” as he sometimes calls it.

I asked Justice Schaller to start off our blog for a simple reason: Having watched the nascent coverage of the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, I have been disappointed to see so much attention focused on her attitudes on race, affirmative action, abortion, and reading policy into law. While the last of these three may give a hint of the judge’s judicial philosophy (I expect that we will hear a lot about that in her upcoming hearings), I still feel as though journalists are failing to comprehend the importance of this appointment. Abortion and affirmative action are so “twentieth century.” Given that any justice assuming a seat on the bench today may occupy that seat for a quarter century or longer (Justice Souter was there for nearly twenty years; Justice William O. Douglas holds the record for service at 36 years), let’s use our imagination to break open the legal dilemmas of the 21st century, so many of them driven by developments in medical science. And who better to lead us there than a bioethicist whose career has been in the law?

Justice Schaller will be making regular posts over the next couple of months, and he will welcome your responses to these, be they questions, challenges, or even the occasional (polite, we hope) affront. I hope you will find his work, and the arrival of this blog, an inspiration to produce great new work of your own.

Todd Brewster

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