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An East Central University Speaker's Corner Wednesday [SEPT. 17] and a discussion about civil liberties, surveillance and terrorism on Monday [SEPT. 22] will mark ECU's official commemoration of Constitution Day.

The Speaker's Corner will allow the community to share their views, be heckled in the grand tradition of the Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park, and then defend their perspective. It will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Estep Multimedia Center in the University Center.

The Speaker's Corner is organized by the American Democracy Project, Pi Sigma Alpha and the ECU Political Science and Legal Studies Department. Prizes will be presented for best speaker and best heckler.

Roger Newman, who teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, will discuss freedom and technology in a time of fear against the commands of the Constitution at the annual Julian J. Rothbaum Distinguished Lecture in Public Affairs. He will speak at 7 p.m. Monday [SEPT. 22] in the Estep Multimedia Center in the University Center.

Constitution Day commemorates Sept. 17, 1789, when the final draft of the U.S. Constitution was signed by members of the Constitutional Convention.

Newman says if the first casualty of war is truth, civil liberty is second. Panic, he said, leads the way, citing such examples as the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II and McCarthyism purges during the Cold War.

Newman warns that the reaction to 9-11 threatens to restrict civil liberties on a far greater scale and in ways yet unknown. He says the unparalleled extent of government monitoring and keeping records of private communications, wiretapping and other widespread electronic surveillance of communication networks pose an obvious danger.

Newman's biography of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black won the Scribes Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. PBS used it as the basis for one of the programs in its series last year on the history of the Supreme Court. Newman also appeared several times in the series.

He is the editor-in-chief of a four-volume encyclopedia, The Constitution and Its Amendments, and co-author of "Banned Films," a history of movie censorship. He has written more than 100 articles and book reviews and lectured extensively across the country.

Newman has appeared on C-Span, National Public Radio and even Entertainment Tonight, which used "Banned Films" as the basis of a week-long series. He is editor of the Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law which will be published next year. He is working on a book on President Clinton's Supreme Court appointments.

Other events related to Constitution Day include specific lessons related to the Constitution in ECU history, legal studies and political science courses and a voter registration contest through Friday [SEPT. 19].

The Rothbaum Lecture is funded through an endowment Rothbaum established with a $25,000 gift to the ECU Foundation Inc. that was matched by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Rothbaum also established an endowment to fund the George Nigh Award for ECU's top graduating senior.

Rothbaum was a long-time leader in Oklahoma civic affairs, a 1986 inductee into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and a former member of the state regents and the University of Oklahoma Regents.

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