Does the US Constitution work?

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Does the US Constitution work?

Advantages

  • provides a strong, prosperous nation at the same time as allowing for representation of diverse interests as well as innovation at state level
  • it is adaptable to social change through the process of amendment and the practice of judicial review
  • protection of civil liberties, with the Bill of Rights being the first 10 Amendments
  • provides separation of powers and system of checks and balances which means that no one branch of government can become too powerful
  • effective protection of minorities, with the Supreme Court making significant decisions such as in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka
  • Still being used today

Disadvantages

  • Nearly impossible to amend because of 2/3 majority in chambers and 3/4 majority in state legislatures requirements. Is becoming more difficult with greater partisanship
  • Supreme Court is made up of 9 unelected, politically appointed individuals
  • No opportunity to appeal against the Supreme Court as it is the final court
  • Gives too much power to those trying to block change
  • Gives too much power to small states
  • Very vague in places
  • Original Constitution was a compromise

Evaluation

Although there are issues with the Constitution regarding the fact that it was written in 1787 when the population was small, only 13 states existed and problems were less complex, the Constitution is still an important document to US politics, and perhaps more importantly, US identity. Furthermore, although it is a dated document, much of the wording is vague, leaving its true meaning open to interpretation and encouraging application to the issue at hand. Consequently, there have been major decisions such as Roe vs. Wade that would never have occurred in the 18th century. One of the strongest arguments for the Constitution is that it is still used today, and held in wide regard by US citizens, as it ensures that their rights are protected in the midst of complex political issues.

Comments

Old Sir

Report

A useful snapshot of the principal issues affecting arguments about the efficacy of the US constitution. Students might wish to use this as a starting-point for revision of the various case studies which examiners are likely to expect to see as part of the process of evaluation and analysis.

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