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The Boy Scouts: A Cradle of American Citizenship

Date: Sunday, Aug. 22 | 7:00–8:15 PM EDT

In a Supreme Court decision in 2000, Chief Justice William Rehnquist affirmed the Boy Scouts’ right to “expressive association”: the organization could choose its staff to advance its particular mission. The decision rested on the idea that the Boy Scouts play an important role in advancing a message about what it means for young people to be budding citizens. In this seminar, we will explore President Calvin Coolidge’s understanding of that message as expressed in his speech “What it Means to be a Boy Scout,” three-quarters of a century before Chief Justice Rehnquist reiterated its importance. We will discuss the role of civil society associations in shaping, through teaching and practice, citizens of a free society. Students will consider how obligations and rights combine to make a flourishing nation, how we discern those obligations and their centrality in citizens’ lives.

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