Why has the US Constitution remained Relevant?

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US Constitution A2 Politics
What factors have helped the US
Constitution to remain Relevant?
Born of the 18th Century Enlightenment
Was born into a fertile seed bed of political philosophy
Social contract theory of John Locke "Two Treatise of Government" 1689
Thomas Paine "The Rights of Man"
Is it possible that the English Revolution of the 18th Century failed partly due to the lack of
this background?
Tied into centuries old English democratic tradition
US Constitution may be over 200 years old
Could argue that links with the longevity of ideas and principles is one of its main strengths
Tied in with an English democratic tradition that in the 18th C was 500 years old
o Magna Carter 1215
o Habeas Corpus 1679
o Petition of Right 1628
o Bill of Rights 1689
o And other democratic ideas e.g. Separation of Powers
America claimed to Protect and Preserve Core Values of the
Individual's Rights in relation to the State
They claimed to be preserving those that the government of George III had forgotten or
E.g. no taxation without representation (a theme of early Stuart monarchy ­ 1628 Petition of
In-built Potential for Adaption
Through Amendment process
o Is slow because it reflects the continental scale of US politics
o Our UK unitary state potentially rapid decision making process is not relevant in the
o Through the potential for the Supreme Court to evolve at a pace that maintained its
US Constitution has stood up to very serious Challenge:
American Civil War 1861-1865 (900,000 casualties)
o A conflict between Federal and Confederal forces
o Drew in the distinguishing cultural divide between the North and South ­ mainly
o If US Constitution was "forged" in the 18th C, it was "tempered" in the 19th C

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US Constitution A2 Politics
Success of the US as a Country
American became the most powerful nation in the world, both within military and economy
This success helped the US Constitution to remain relevant because of its successful
American people "Bought Into" the Constitution
Constitutions are nothing without the political will of the nation behind them
This can be seen recently, with the failed attempt of Syria's proposed constitution in
February 2012 and the amount of destruction the country has seen since then.…read more


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