Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Constitution in Your Pocket

At last week's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the United States Constitution made an unexpected guest appearance. Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in Iraq, appeared on stage after a moving video tribute to their late son. In remarks that followed, Mr. Khan, an immigration lawyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his proposed immigration ban on Muslims. Khan noted that not only would a religious bar to immigration be fundamentally unconstitutional, it would have also prevented the Khans' son from coming to America at age 2, later joining the U.S. Army, and ultimately sacrificing his life to save his fellow soldiers from a car bomber in 2004. Captain Humayun Khan was one of 14 American Muslim members of the armed forces who have died in service to their country since September 11, 2001.

In a particularly emotional moment, Mr. Khan asked Donald Trump, "Have you even read the United States Constitution?" He then pulled a pocket-sized copy from his suit jacket and held it up to the crowd, adding, "I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law.'"

The speech resonated with viewers, and propelled one version of a pocket Constitution to be the number 2 bestseller on Amazon this weekend, behind only the new Harry Potter book. Did Mr. Khan inspire you to carry a copy in your pocket or glove compartment?
  • Visitors to the Goodson Law Library already know that free pocket constitutions are available at our service desk, courtesy of Lexis and Westlaw.
  • If you can't make it to the Goodson Law Library in person, the American Civil Liberties Union is offering free copies of its own pocket Constitution from now until Election Day with the coupon code POCKETRIGHTS. (Response has been so overwhelming that the ACLU copies are on backorder.)
  • Other political organizations sell their own pocket Constitutions, such as the Cato Institute's for $4.95.
  • If you'd prefer a version of the Constitution with no corporate or political branding, the U.S. Government Publishing Office sells copies of a pocket Constitution (including the Declaration of Independence) for $1.50 at its bookstore.
To learn more about the United States Constitution, search the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject heading "Constitutional law – United States" and "United States. Constitution". For help navigating our large constitutional law collection, be sure to Ask a Librarian.