What role does the Constitution play in US society today?
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The Constitution plays a number of roles in our society today. Let us look at two of the most important.
First, the Constitution serves as the “rule book” for our government. It specifies what government can and cannot do. We have seen this very recently in the Supreme Court case over whether “Obamacare” was justifiable under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
Second, the Constitution serves as a set of ideals that our society should live by. People on all sides of political debates try to use constitutional ideals to defend their side of an argument. For example, the Tea Party uses the idea of limited government to promote a reduction in the size of government while gay rights activists use the idea of equal protection and personal freedom to push for their goals.
The Constitution, then, is used both as a legal document and as a set of ideals in our society today.
The constitution is an instrument of control, as it helps a government to control the governed and assists the government to control itself. It helps in setting boundaries for the judiciary, legislature and the executive by separating powers of the three arms of government. The constitution plays a major role in safeguarding human rights as contained in the Bill of Rights. The constitution promotes social justice and equality and ensures the government remains accountable. In summary the role of the constitution can be stated as follows:
- Create a national government made up of the three arms namely; the executive, judiciary and legislature with controls to prevent despotism by any single arm.
- Provide the framework of separation of powers between the states’ governments and the national government.
- Protect citizens’ liberties as contained but not limited to the “Bill of Rights”.
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