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Rui Dai

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Modernize the Constitution, But Do it Through an Amendment

Posted: 05/31/2012 3:01 pm

Kevin Bleyer, a writer for Jon Stewart's the Daily Show, recently launched a campaign on Slate.com to gather ideas that can help change the Constitution of the United States. I do not disagree with the sentiments of this campaign. Throwing around ideas is great. However, if anything is to be changed in the Constitution, it needs to go through the amendment process.

Three decades ago, an estimated 160 nations modeled their constitution after that of the United States. Today, the number has plunged dramatically. Earlier this year in January, Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg suggested to the Egyptian government to not model their Constitution after that of the United States, especially concerning human rights. Instead, the Justice recommended the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.

The basis for Bleyer's argument is correct. There is no doubt that the U.S. Constitution is seriously flawed. Some of the world's most unstable nations (e.g. Sudan, Myanmar, and Rwanda) had modeled their governments after that of the U.S. The U.S. Constitution is too inflexible and has too many loopholes that can be easily manipulated by those in power. For a developing nation, the U.S. Constitution is a recipe for disaster.

However that doesn't mean it's a disaster for the United States.

The U.S. Constitution remains today the oldest functional governmental document in the world. Its inflexibility and vague language don't work for developing nations, but that is exactly what the United States needs. The United States is a nation founded on debates and arguments. Even today, it's unique in the ways that solutions are made as the result of compromises. We may complain that there is too much bipartisanship in Congress, but congressmen work across the aisle more often than we give them credit for.

In that sense: yes, the U.S. Constitution desperately needs to be updated. However, any updates should go through the amendment process. The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but changing it outright is more dangerous. It is not only a governing piece of document, it is also in every sense the cornerstone of America. By changing the Constitution with a metaphorical black marker, we will not only change a document over 200 years old, but also a large part of America.

The articles of the Constitution cannot and should not be changed outright. If there is to be any changes to the Constitution, it should be through the amendment process. Despite all the flaws in the Constitution, there is still an official process to change it. No matter how slow or arduous it might be, it must still be respected for the good of the nation and the identity of the United States.

 
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