On September 17, Constitution Day, the Honorable Jeffrey S. Sutton delivered a lecture in the Hamilton College Chapel in honor of the Honorable David Aldrich Nelson, whom he succeeded on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before the lecture, the large audience warmly acknowledged with standing ovations the presence of Judge Nelson and Mr. Carl Menges, distinguished alumni of Hamilton College and members of AHI’s Board of Directors.

Judge Sutton’s lecture, in the words of Hamilton College Professor of Government Ted Eismeier, was “an intellectual tour de force,” contrasting the originalist approach to constitutional interpretation with the living constitution approach.  Citing a variety of cases, including D.C. v Heller and Boumediene v Bush, he analyzed the recent development of the Supreme Court,  grounding many of its decisions in historical evidence and interpretation. He outlined both the advantages and possible risks of the Court’s new historicism.

Judge Sutton’s lecture was followed by  a flurry of questions from students, faculty, and the public and then by a lively informal discussion.  As The Spectator, Hamilton College’s student newspaper reported, Judge Sutton “was open for to the student body and other attendees, who nearly filled the seating area” in the chapel.” The AHI wishes to express its deepest gratitude to Judge Sutton for an exemplary performance in honoring one of Hamilton College’s most distinguished graduates.

Professor Paul Finkelman, President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy, and Senior Fellow in the Government Law Center at the Albany Law School, will present the second David Aldrich Nelson Lecture on Constitution Day, 2009.