Is construction of an Islamic Center near the site of the World Trade Center bombings a free speech issue covered by the Constitution?

Illinois State University’s American Democracy Project and Heartland Community College’s Political Engagement Project are teaming up to present a panel discussion on the proposed New York City Islamic Center at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 13, at Heartland’s Astroth Community Education Center Auditorium.

Heartland’s Tom McCulley will moderate the panel that will include Heartland professors Paul Folger and Dewhitt Bingham along with Illinois State professors John Huxford and Lane Crothers. The event is free and open to the public. The format will include questions from the audience using two open microphones.

The panel discussion is one of several events planned at Illinois State and Heartland in celebration of Constitution Day during the week of Sept. 17. Federal legislation requires all educational institutions that receive federal funds implement education programs related to the United States Constitution during the week of Sept. 17, the date in 1787 the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the U.S. Constitution.

Both Illinois State’s American Democracy Project and Heartland’s Political Engagement Project are dedicated to educating students for responsible civic and political engagement. Illinois State and Heartland were selected along with 10 other campuses nationwide as model political engagement institutions by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in 2006.