As new leader of Constitution Center, Rosen plans to boost and broaden debate

The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia has named its new president and CEO.

Jeffrey Rosen, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, is also a journalist whose writings and commentaries have appeared widely in such venues as The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and The New Republic, where he is an editor.

His book, “Constitution 3.0,” examined how social media, GPS, and Internet commerce complicate basic constitutional rights.

Rosen says, as CEO of the National Constitution Center, he will aggressively exploit some of those same technologies to expand constitutional debate beyond the walls of the center.

“It means dramatically increasing the scope of these debates on the Web, and lining up a range of scholars and commentators on both sides of all political issues who are waiting and able to comment on constitutional issues as they occur,” said Rosen.

Early this summer, the Supreme Court is expected to start handing down judgments on a gamut of charged issues, including affirmative action, voting rights, and gay rights.

Rosen, who will take the helm of the center June 3, said he wants to hit the ground running with a series of debates in Philadelphia. To avoid the heat of politics, each debate will use the Constitution as its touchstone.

“Sometimes they’ll change their minds, and sometimes in these conversations people actually find their constitutional and political inclinations diverge,” said Rosen. “Those are the most exciting moments, because then you know you’re being guided by principle rather than politics.”

The previous CEO of the National Constitution Center, David Eisner, arrived with an administrative background. Rosen, a scholar, has never led a large organization. With an economic recession and sluggish attendance at its gallery exhibitions, the center has had a few financially difficult years.

“It’s true I never administered a large institution, although I did lead a project on democracy and the future of technology at the Brookings Institution. I enjoyed raising money for that,” said Rosen. “I’ve got a lot to learn. I have an extremely strong team, and I’m very grateful for the support of my partner, [interim CEO] Vince Stango.”

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