- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Actress Janine Turner is best known for starring in the TV shows “Northern Exposure” and “Friday Night Lights.”

Now she wants to shine the light of greater exposure on the U.S. Constitution - combined with a big dose of star appeal. Her new project is well worth watching, and applauding.

Along with longtime political grass-roots organizer Cathy Gillespie, Miss Turner has founded the organization Constituting America to help promote greater knowledge and understanding of our Constitution. Through student contests, school projects, celebrations of Constitution Day and multimedia efforts, the organization intends - in the words of a recent essay by Miss Turner - to “shift our country back to its founding principles.”

“I’m afraid that our government seems to be infringing on too many areas of our life,” Miss Turner said Monday at a news luncheon sponsored by the American Spectator and Americans for Tax Reform. “Free enterprise is getting compromised.”

To help reverse that, the new organization is sponsoring national contests at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. For the younger set, the contest is for the best poem or drawing that celebrates or explains the Constitution. For middle school, the contests will be for the best essay or the best song. High school students will compete in the categories of essay, song, short film and public-service announcements. Winners in each category will receive a $2,000 scholarship, an appearance on a Fox News show and a trip to Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center. (The entry deadline, appropriately, is July 4. Details are available at www.constitutingamerica.org.)

Yesterday, Miss Turner began what she is calling the 90 in 90 project. She will break up the Constitution into five parts, read one part each day, and follow those with a daily reading of each of the 85 Federalist Papers through which Founders Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay explained the Constitution’s meaning and ramifications to the undecided public. She will urge all interested Americans to do the same, on the same schedule, and she will blog each day about her readings.

“Read it with your children at the dinner table or before bed,” she wrote in her essay. “It will only be about three pages a night.” Appreciation for what makes America exceptional is indeed handed down one kid at a time. As Miss Turner’s 12 year-old-daughter, Juliette, put it so succinctly during Monday’s luncheon: “You have to know these things in order to have a great country.”

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