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Events Archive: 2021-22

9/11 and the Constitution: A Conversation


In recognition of Constitution Day and the 20th anniversary of 9/11, VCU Libraries presents a video conversation on the effects of 9/11 on the Constitution and how 9/11 fits into a series of momentous events that have radically altered how the Constitution is interpreted. The conversation features political scientist John M. Aughenbaugh, Ph.D., and historian Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D., and is moderated by Nia Rodgers, public affairs research librarian at VCU Libraries.

For questions or accommodations, please contact the VCU Libraries Events Office at or (804) 828-0593.

Watch the Video

Available with captions on the VCU Libraries YouTube channel.

About the Speakers

John M. Aughenbaugh, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the VCU Department of Political Science. For the past 25 years, both at Virginia Tech and VCU, he has taught courses and presented conference papers on constitutional and administrative law and the constitutional issues associated with homeland security.

Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the VCU Department of History. Her research focuses on the history of early America and the Atlantic with an emphasis on gender and political culture. She is the author of The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States’ First Forgotten Celebrity (2021) as well as the award-winning book Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public After the Revolution.

References and Resources

FDR’s “The only thing we have to fear” inauguration speech:

Russ Feingold’s speech on opposing the USA Patriot Act:

Sedition Act of 1798:,government%20of%20the%20United%20States

For the text of the Alien and Sedition Acts, see

For more context on these acts, see a book by Richmonder Terri Ann Halperin titled The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798: Testing the Constitution (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), available in the print collection at Cabell Library (call number: KF9397.A3281798 H35 2016).

Sedition Act of 1918: This site includes original documents from the passage of the act, the full text of the act, as well as scholarly commentary.

For more, see Martti Juhani Rudanko’s Discourses of Freedom of Speech: From the Enactment of the Bill of Rights to the Sedition Act of 1918 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), available in the print collection at Cabell Library (call number: KF4772 .R83 2012).

The internment/incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II:

Greg Robinson’s By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2009) gives an account of this story. This book is available in both the print and online collections (Cabell print: D769.8 .A6 R63 2001).

The National Archives has a number of original sources on internment, including FDR’s original order and photographs of the hysteria on the West Coast and the camps themselves:

PBS has a video overview from the 75th anniversary of internment:

The question of whether to call this “internment” or “incarceration” is an important one that remains controversial:

The Red Scare/McCarthyism/House Un-American Activities Committee/Lavender Scare: The Miller Center at UVA has an important set of documents and analysis:

For President Harry Truman’s loyalty programs, see

See also

Joseph McCarthy claimed to have lists of American communists working within the federal government:

Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible (1953) compares the communist witch hunt of the 1950s to the witch trials of the 1690s. In 1996 Miller commented on why he wrote it for a New Yorker essay:

On the Lavender Scare:

David K. Johnson’s The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government (University of Chicago Press, 2004) gives an account of what happened during this era. Available in the Cabell print collection at call number: JK723.H6 J64 2004.

Referenced/related cases:

Other Laws Referenced:

Image: World Trade Center construction sketch by Nicholas Solovioff and Lili Réthi, Design by VCU Creative Services