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Constitution Day: WFU professor tackles sexual politics of first amendment


September 12, 2008

In observance of Constitution Day, Wake Forest University will hold a campus talk at 3 p.m. Sept. 17 to tackle what Shannon Gilreath, professor for interdisciplinary study at the Wake Forest School of Law, calls “a simple but disturbing” question—does the U.S. Constitution deserve fidelity? The lecture is not open to the public, but Gilreath is available for interviews.

The talk, titled “The Sexual Politics of the First Amendment” will be held in Tribble Hall’s DeTamble Auditorium.  It is sponsored by the Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Wake Forest School of Law.

“Many people, including women, people of color and gays, were intentionally left out of the creation of the Constitution and its subsequent judicial development,” said Gilreath.  “The continuing invisibility of traditionally marginalized people is most obvious in the absolutist interpretation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech.  This position has amounted to protecting hate speech at the expense of the victim.”

During the lecture, Gilreath will discuss the historical context of his argument, address how protection of hate speech affects its victims, and explore ways to make the Constitution more legitimate to more people.

Gilreath is the author of “Sexual Politics” and “Sexual Identity Law in Context.”  His work has been nominated for several national awards, including the LAMBDA Literary Foundation Award and the American Library Association’s Stonewall Prize for Nonfiction.

Constitution Day is officially observed each year on September 17, the day the Constitution was signed in 1787.  In 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law Public Law 108-447, which established September 17 as Constitution Day and requests an educational program pertaining to the Constitution in all federally-funded institutions.

Press Contacts:

Pam Barrett
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


Wake Forest Law School professor Shannon Gilreath.
Wake Forest Law School professor Shannon Gilreath.
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