Is the Constitution a perfect document, and if not, what should be changed about it?If it is not a perfect document, should we have another Constitutional Convention?

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dbello's profile pic

dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

James Madison once said 'if men were angels there would be no need for government'. Madison understood that not every person was angelic, therefore a government was a necessary reality for protection of liberty. The Constitution accomplished that goal as a framework of governmental structure. The framers intentionally designed the document to withstand the tests of time, and frankly that can be argued for the better or the worse depending upon ones' political perspective. Article I Section 8 Clause 18, the Amendment Process and Judicial Review are three examples of how the document allows for a 'more perfect union' to sustain itself.

I am of the opinion that the document has worked well over since its ratification. The Amendment process was designed to be a difficult one so its purpose would not be undermined by the narcissism of a particular generation. ( The framers understood the downside of human nature) Furthermore, Article I sec.8 cl. 18 offers any given generation to broaden the meaning to the Constitution to suit its needs, while the power of Judicial Review interprets the meaning of the Constitution over time. I believe the framers of the document hit the nail on the head....there is no need for a new Constitutional Convention.


brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

No, but we should have regular amendment conventions to discuss ways in which changing the document can better fit our lives in the modern day.  It is very difficult to actually add an amendment to the Constitution, but it should be, and we do already have a process to change the document.

We could perhaps make it easier for amendments t follow the path of the 18th and be formally proposed by state conventions as opposed to relying on a reactionary and overly political Congress.

enotechris's profile pic

enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

The Constitution may be modified  through a convention or through a quorum of the states.  If proposed modifications are not being put forth by the states, the people may assert their authority by holding a convention.

The Founders, inheritors of the Enlightenment, developed a system of government superior to anything else in the world at that time.  To understand their lives and times is to understand how masterful the Constitution is, and sadly, how fast and far we've deviated from it.   We don't need to improve the Constitution,  rather, we need to start understanding its philosophical foundations and live by it.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is, of course, a subjective question and will probably be moved to the discussion section.  So this answer is solely my opinion.

The Constitution is not perfect.  I would like to get rid of the Electoral College and I'd like to have the Second Amendment clarified.  I also think that the whole war powers thing is not clear enough -- how much can the president do as commander in chief, etc.  Other people surely have other issues.

But saying it's imperfect is a long way from saying we need a convention.  There's no call, in my mind, for a wholesale revamp of the basic structure of the Constitution.  So I think there are some issues, but they're relatively minor and don't warrant fundamental change.

tman2010's profile pic

tman2010 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

No, the Constitution is not perfect.  The idea of the Electoral College is outdated, in my opinion, and should be eliminated.  With that said, I personally have no other issue with the Constitution.  I'm not sure that any document can ever be "perfect."  Just as in law, there will always be differences in interpretation and the need for the document to evolve.  The Constitution began as an imperfect document; therefore, the Bill of Rights came into existence.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

No. I am sure that the constitution is not perfect. And I am equally sure that it is quite as near perfect as it is possible to have. I am particularly sure that it is much better constitution than what an ordinary person like me can produce. So please don't ask me to suggest changes in it, just because I say it is not perfect.

Coming to the question of having another Constitutional Convention, I consider it to be a wasteful exercise. The constitution has been changed and improved from time to time without the need for another Constitutional Convention.

Further, in absence of clarity on the shortcomings of existing constitution, there is no guarantee that a new constitution will be a better one. If such a clarity, and agreement on it among senior politicians, was existing the constitution could have been amended without a constitutional convention.

Further, a good constitution is not a static document. It need to change and evolve over time, as the existing constitution has evolved. A Constitutional Convention can only give a static document which will have to evolve and change under the system of constitutional amendments. This system is already in place and can be used to amend the existing constitution as and when needed.

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