I'm Jeffrey Rosen, and I’m thrilled and humbled to be introducing myself to you as the new president and CEO of the National Constitution Center.
This is an extraordinary time for the Center—which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary as the museum of “We the People.” As we look toward the decade ahead, our mission is as timely and important as ever—to illuminate constitutional ideals, inspire active citizenship, and celebrate freedom.
One of the highest privileges of citizenship is an opportunity to participate in a conversation about what the Constitution means.
As a museum, we welcome visitors of all ages and backgrounds to explore the history and relevance of the Constitution through innovative exhibitions, rare artifacts, and hands-on activities.
We aspire to be America’s town hall—the place where citizens can gather, hear the best arguments on both sides of any constitutional issue, and make up their own minds. As debates about the meaning of constitutionalism spread around the globe, we aspire to be an international town hall as well. I look forward to working with the Center to host these constitutional debates in Philadelphia, on the Internet, on radio and television, and around the world.
There’s no institution in the world I’d rather lead, because moderating and convening bipartisan conversations about the Constitution is my great passion. As a teacher of constitutional law, I begin our discussions with a simple rule: in a constitutional conversation, all of us have to make constitutional arguments, not political arguments. Citizens have strong disagreements about politics, but all of us can learn enough about constitutional arguments—about the text, history, and structure of the Constitution and Bill of Rights—to debate even the most hotly contested issues in constitutional terms. And sometimes, at the end of a constitutional conversation, we find that our political and constitutional conclusions diverge, which is when we know we’re being guided by our highest principles and ideals.
The Constitution continues to be at the heart of our nation’s most contentious issues, from immigration to health care to gun rights. Every week and every day, there’s a new political issue that raises constitutional questions—from surveillance cameras and drones to free speech on the Internet.
But in a polarized age, there are too few opportunities for people on opposite sides of a constitutional question to gather together for civil debate. As a law professor and journalist, I’ve long admired the Center as a great institution that provides a unique national forum for precisely this kind of bipartisan education and debate. And I hope you will think of the Center as the place where you can turn to educate yourselves about the best arguments on both sides of any constitutional question, so that you can decide for yourself.
I’m very much looking forward to coming to Philadelphia and experiencing all this great city has to offer. I hope to meet you and speak with you at an upcoming exhibition, debate, program, or event.
Thank you for your interest in learning about the National Constitution Center. And, most importantly, thank you for your interest in learning about the Constitution.
Monday - Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106