Friday, September 13, 2013

Whitworth alum and civil rights attorney to give Constitution Day lecture on the Supreme Court


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The Whitworth University 2013 Constitution Day Lecture will feature Breean Beggs, ’85, who will present a lecture, “Guns, Marriage and Corporations: How the Supreme Court Is Approaching Today’s Critical Constitutional Issues.” The lecture will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth University. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-4739.

Beggs is a Spokane-based lawyer with Paukert & Troppmann, PLLC. He specializes in civil rights violations by the government, wrongful death, serious personal injury, and employment discrimination. Previously, Beggs served as executive director of Spokane’s nonprofit Center for Justice and worked as a private lawyer. He has won numerous awards, including a Local Hero Award from the Washington Bar Association.

“The current debates over gun rights and marriage equality stir people's passions at a deep level and have divided our communities,” Beggs says. “Most people respond to these debates with their feelings, beliefs and thoughts on what they believe are right, but the actual decision is made by the Supreme Court in reference to our written constitution. Understanding the Supreme Court's decision-making process and its history of addressing these issues will empower people to be more effective in their advocacy for a particular point of view and will prepare them for the world that future court decisions will create.”

Beggs hopes attendees will come away from his lecture with an accurate understanding of how the Supreme Court has and has not defined the rights of individuals and corporations. “Bumper stickers and placards make for interesting driving and passionate rallies, but they don't necessarily help us live together,” Beggs says. He points to the Constitution as a written contract that is reconciled by the Supreme Court in order to preserve life in diverse communities. “Whitworth is known for its commitment to vigorous debate without sacrificing community relationships. Better understanding how the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution to accomplish the same goal in a secular legal context supports that ongoing mission.”

Constitution Day, which is officially recognized on Sept. 17, is a federally recognized national celebration of the signing of the U.S. government's founding document. The U.S. Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, 1787, by the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, in Philadelphia, Pa.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts: 

Kathy Fechter, academic program assistant, communication studies, (509) 777-4739 or kfechter@whitworth.edu.

Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or lbeechinor@whitworth.edu.