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Vieselmeyer recalls Constitution bill

Staff Writer | December 2, 2020 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Thirty-one years ago, his first term in Idaho office, Rep. Ron Vieselmeyer wrote and introduced his first bill.

It called for Sept. 17 to be designated as Constitutional Commemorative Day. It read: “The superintendent of public instruction shall be responsible for developing programs and suitable recognition of the Constitution of the United States in conjunction with the commemorative day to be held annually on the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution,” which was Sept. 17, 1787.

Vieselmeyer, of Kootenai County, remains just as proud of that bill today as he was then. But he’s not sure many people know about it — or even know much about this country’s Constitution or what’s in it.

He recalled talking to people about it during his 1988 campaign.

“They didn’t know anything about the Constitution, other than there’s a Constitution out there.”

At the time, he wrote: “While I am concerned about the liberal attorney, judge or professor who would twist the meaning of the Constitution, I am also troubled by the apathy of the many who know very little about its content and purpose who have a don’t-care attitude.”

“That’s why I decided to do something about it,” he said during a recent interview with The Press.

The Constitution recently came into the spotlight in North Idaho when the Coeur d’Alene School District was accused by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee of denying copies of the Constitution to its high school seniors.

Scott Maben, director of communications for the district, told The Coeur d’Alene Press the allegations were untrue.

“Each fall, our high school government teachers focus on lessons on the Constitution, and for years they have distributed copies of the U.S. Constitution to those students — mainly seniors — thanks to the generosity of Kootenai County Republic Women Federated,” Maben said.

Vieselmeyer, who served two years as representative and lost a close race for reelection, believes his bill has for the most part been effective and districts have done a good job teaching students about the Constitution.

“It’s definitely made a difference,” he said.

Most years, Idaho districts have held programs on the Constitution on Sept. 17 — not always on their own accord.

“Other times they did it because I reminded them,” he said, chuckling. “Quite a few times.”

Vieselmeyer wrote that the framers of the Constitution “were men of great wisdom who intended to leave us a legacy that was much greater than themselves that would outlive them for centuries to come. My challenge as we celebrate Constitutional Day is that everyone obtain a copy of the Constitution and study it.”