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How should we characterize the Constitution; is it a conservative, a liberal, or a...

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cc1205 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:53 PM via web

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How should we characterize the Constitution; is it a conservative, a liberal, or a radical document?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 28, 2012 at 9:02 PM (Answer #1)

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There are arguments to be made for calling this either a conservative or a liberal document, depending on which aspects of the document you want to look at and how you want to define “liberal” and conservative.

The Constitution is clearly conservative (in our current terms) in the sense that it is meant to ensure that the government cannot be too strong.  The system of checks and balances and separation of powers comes out of a strong distrust of government power.  This is more of a conservative idea than a liberal one today.

However, the Constitution is also liberal in the sense that it protects many rights that liberals are more likely to care about.  For example, the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures is something that liberals care more about.  We cannot really say, then, that the Constitution is all liberal or all conservative.  It clearly has aspects of each.

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