Penn Alum Lawrence Lessig to Speak at National Constitution Center for Democracy Café

Lawrence Lessig, a University of Pennsylvania alumnus and public intellectual, is leading a charge to overhaul the U.S. Constitution. He’s coming to Philadelphia, home of the original Constitutional Convention, to build momentum for drafting a new one.

Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics and professor of law at Harvard University, will take part in a Constitution Café – an offbeat, mini-constitutional convention – on Monday, March 18, and speak at the National Constitution Center the following night.

Christopher Phillips, senior writing fellow with the Critical Writing Program at Penn’s Center for Contemporary Writing, invited Lessig to participate in the programs, part of Phillips’ ongoing Constitution Café and Democracy Café public forums. 

Lessig “is a kindred spirit in the quest to make ours a more inclusive democracy,” Phillips said.

This semester, Phillips is using Lessig’s book Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress -- and How to Stop It, as the primary text in his Critical Writing Program courses on “Money and Democracy.”

Phillips and Lessig will co-facilitate a Constitution Café to craft “new” constitutional articles on March 18 at the Friends Center, Lucretia Mott Room, 1501 Cherry St., from 7 to 9 p.m. On March 19, “An Evening With Lawrence Lessig: The Constitution and the Corrosive Influence on Money in Politics” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in Kirby Auditorium of the National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St. Phillips will moderate the event. The University is a co-sponsor of both events.

Students in Phillips’ classes will join the Café discussions and have front-row seats at Lessig's talk. Each event is free, open to the public and will be livestreamed at 

Lessig earned his B.A. in economics and a B.S. in management from Penn before earning an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Cambridge (Trinity) in England and a degree from Yale Law School in 1989.

A scholar and political reformer, Lessig, founder of the activist group Rootstrikers, is working to spark a national conversation on a range of proposed constitutional reforms, from limiting political contributions from non-citizens to implementing public-campaign financing to initiating Electoral College reform.

Constitution Cafe is a project run by Phillips, recent recipient of the Distinguished American Leadership Award, under the auspices of Democracy café,, which Lessig serves as an advisory-board member.

More information about the Constitution Café is

Story Photo