Hacking the Constitution

The Department of Political Science and Global Affairs hosted the first annual Constitution Hackathon on Monday, Sept. 18, in observance of Constitution Day.

Constitution Day is designated on Sept. 17 to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on the same day in 1787, according to the National Archives.

The Hackathon event was announced through email by the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs on Aug. 1. Students were invited to submit a concise essay, no longer than 250 words, responding to the question, “If you could ‘hack’ into the U.S Constitution, what would you change and why?” said the email.

Prof. Steven Michels, Chair of Political Science and Global Affairs, along with Prof. Marylena Mantas-Kourounis, selected four finalists to present their arguments at the event.

The selection criteria were based on factors such as “the importance of the change, the clarity of the argument, and the evidence offered in support of it,” Michels said.
The four finalists selected were Anna Macaulay, Angus Hendricks, Laytoya Strachan and Jacqueline Gonzalez.

The event featured five-minute proposals from each of the finalists, followed by questions from both the audience and a panel of three judges, which consisted of Michels, Brian Stiltner, Professor of Religious Studies, and Jennifer McLaughlin, ExecutiveDirector of the Office of Student Advising and Success.

Macaulay, a junior majoring in political science with a minor in criminal justice, argued for integrity of Justices on the United States Supreme Court.

“My hack was instituting a constitutionally outlined and enforceable code of ethics for the court, as well as the implementation of decade long term limits to ensure a progressive and modern rotation of Justices,” said Macaulay.

Gonzalez, a junior political science major with minors in sociology and human rights & social justice, extended Macaulay’s proposal by suggesting the addition of term limits for Supreme Court judges.

Gonzalez’s proposition was “to add a third section to Article 3 which outlines the responsibilities and duties of the Supreme Court, but unlike the Constitution has listed term limits for Congress and the President, there are not term limits placed on the judges other than that they serve for life,” said Gonzalez.

Strachan, a sophomore political science major, focused on the Second Amendment and called for increased regulation on guns in America.

“Due to the increase of death by gun violence, if I could ‘hack’ the Constitution I would have more of a regulation on guns in America,” said Strachan.

Angus Henricks, a junior double majoring in political science and sports communications & media with a journalism minor, proposed “to change the Constitution to make voting in elections compulsory for all voting- eligible citizens,” said Henricks.

After deliberation, Gonzalez was selected as the winner of the event.

“All of the participants were strong, but the judges felt that Jacqueline’s presentation was a bit more complete and had more specifics,” said Michels.

In response to her victory, Gonzalez said, “I am truly humbled and honored to be named the first ever winner. Before this event I couldn’t say I really thought much about the Constitution besides a historical standpoint, but now I have a better appreciation and understanding of it and will apply all that this event taught me to my future endeavors.”
Gonzalez addressed her fellow competition and said, “Amongst the finalist we had a great line-up of ideas and creative ways of how we would hack into the Constitution all of which would’ve created a positive change for the country, so I want to give them all a shout out for the hard work they put in as well.”

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