Homework Help

Why do you believe the US Constitution has stood the test of timeWhy do you believe the...

user profile pic

jazminj2 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 16, 2009 at 9:46 AM via web

dislike 2 like
Why do you believe the US Constitution has stood the test of time

Why do you believe the US Constitution has stood the test of time

9 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

mapriem | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 16, 2009 at 11:10 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

The founding principles behind the Constitution, were values created by men enduring the stress and pressure of creating a new union aside from the rule of Great Britain. Much debate and thought about human values and the rights of a free people were instituted in the writing of this famous document that has endured in the United States for nearly 232 years. Although there have been a variety of amendments, the basic content has been respected and used to govern in the USA throughout history up to the present. The majority of citizens believe in this document to govern our country as its tradition is valued still by many. Just like the Bible is a guide to many religious denominations, the constitution is a guide to the structure, laws and behaviors influencing the culture in America.

user profile pic

dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 16, 2009 at 11:56 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

The United States Constitution has been referred to as a 'living document' due to the fact that it has endured. The Amendment process allows official changes to the document. This allows the document to sustain its revelance and as such continue to have meaning for the people. The framers realized that The United States in 1789 would not be the same place in 2009. Another reason the document has stood the test of time is written in Article 1 section 8 clause 18. Commonly called the 'elastic clause', it states that The Congress has the power to do what is 'proper and necessary' to carry out the 17 delegated powers. Although this clause has been disputed by many, just as many believe it helps to 'fill in the blanks' as needed. Remember The Constitution is a framework, an outline of our government. As our history has progressed and become more complex, the document has proved flexible enough to 'address' America's changing societal needs as well as the power to 'officially' change the document. The Constitution has stood the test of time because it holds within it principles such as the amendent process as well as its interpretive flexibility,  both are necessary requirements if the document is to stand the test of time.

 

user profile pic

lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted January 17, 2009 at 1:44 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

Yes, it is important that the Constitution can be amended--as another writer says, the framers knew the world would change. But just as important is that it is not easy to change. If it were, any time a new set of people were elected, the document might have been changed. I think it is pretty obvious that people have been elected to high office in this country that could have done considerable damage to our freedoms.

user profile pic

enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 17, 2009 at 6:26 PM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

Sadly, I do not believe the US Constitution has stood the test of time. I think it is pretty obvious that people have been elected to high office in this country that have done considerable damage to our freedoms. The statement that "The Constitution is a framework, an outline of our government" is erroneous. The Constitution isn't a "framework," it explicitly defines the government, what its powers are, and explicitly limits those powers. "Framework" and "Elastic Clause" and "Living Breathing Document" are terms that do not apply to what the Federal government is now. Nowhere did the Founders envision a massive, near-totalitarian fiscally deficit government; in fact, they explicitly warned against it! The statement that "As our history has progressed and become more complex, the document is open to interpretation of America's changing societal needs," is also erroneous. This government wasn't created to pander to societal needs; it was created to safeguard rights. And if the argument is that the function of government is to pander to societal needs, then you've confirmed the assertion that the Constitution, as originally intended, is through. This document has not stood the test of time, beginning with the ever-expanding government under FDR and continuing to current day. It is a Dying Asphyxiatic Scrap of Paper, at least as considered by this current administration, and by the Federal government in general. What Checks and Balances are still in place? The Bill of Rights, a check on the power of government, has been eviscerated. Read this document carefully, and form your own opinion, learn for yourself. You may be surprised at how the government is supposed to be run, that, for example, the Executive Office has very limited powers (or at least is supposed to....) See full post at:

http://www.enotes.com/soc/group/discuss/12661?replyTo=30531

http://www.milkandcookies.com/link/48876/detail/

user profile pic

rlendensky | Student, College Freshman | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 22, 2009 at 1:45 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

Actually, dbello, to look at the Consitution as a living, breathing document only expresses one view on the interpretation of the Constitution. In fact, some people still believe that the Constitution must be interpreted using the words LITERALLY printed in the text and are not made to be interpreted. I think to see why it has lasted this test of time we must first look at by whom it was written, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, these were all some of the most intelligent men of their time and understood how England abused governmental power. With this knowledge, they were given an accurate example of a how a government should NOT run. The main reason for the Constituion lasting for almost three hundred year lies in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, a direct protection of the people against the government has allowed the Constituion to be timeless.

user profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 22, 2009 at 1:24 PM (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

There seem to be two topics at issue here. I think the Constitution should not be "interpreted" but "amended." A "living document" has so much leaway that it's almost like not having a constitution (I know, a little hyperbolic). What is a mess is the operation of the three government branches that "run" the country under the constitution. We once had a much smaller citizen/representative ratio than we do now. The founders knew this number had to be adjusted: “However small the Republic may be, the Representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and however large it may be, they must be divided to certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude” (Federalist Paper n° 10). Once the legislature made laws; now it seems that the courts have taken over part of that role; we have a body that is not elected making laws for us. And we have an executive who seems to be making decisions (about "war" for instance) that once was the duty of the Congress.

Rather than fool around with the Constitution, I think we should have the 3 branches of the government work as originally intended. To me that would mean getting rid of the small "cabal" that makes up the Senate and the House. Why not have 10,000 representatives who could actually represent US and not their party. In the age of the Internet, why do they have to be physically present to do business? Why only 100 Senators? And why do they all have to be rich and many of them lawyers? If we increased all these number, imagine how much harder it would be for monied interests to "influence" them? I have no clear ideas about what to do with the courts, but I think some form of elections would help ...

Let's fix the operation rather than the founding document ....

user profile pic

dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 22, 2009 at 6:38 PM (Answer #8)

dislike 0 like

Actually, dbello, to look at the Consitution as a living, breathing document only expresses one view on the interpretation of the Constitution. In fact, some people still believe that the Constitution must be interpreted using the words LITERALLY printed in the text and are not made to be interpreted. I think to see why it has lasted this test of time we must first look at by whom it was written, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, these were all some of the most intelligent men of their time and understood how England abused governmental power. With this knowledge, they were given an accurate example of a how a government should NOT run. The main reason for the Constituion lasting for almost three hundred year lies in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, a direct protection of the people against the government has allowed the Constituion to be timeless.

Thank you for reading my post, I appreciate your comment. However, although I referred to the 'loose' interpretation of the Constitution often recognized as the 'proper and necessary clause' or 'elastic clause' found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 which as I stated is always opened to interpretation, Article V outlines the amendment process which allows the document to officially change as the nation changes. The process is a difficult one, perhaps because of the 'elastic clause'. The framers of the document understood that if the nation they created was to survive, the document would need to survive the nature of change.  Remember, they already walked down that path of inflexibility with regard to The Articles of Confederation. It was with that frame of reference that all 7 Articles of The U.S. Constitution were written, each possessing criteria for the 'long haul'.

I should have clearly specified that although the framers included both interpretive and official ways to change the document, my statement was in deference of the 'official' amendent process, and not to suggest that there was a right or wrong way to interpret The Constitution, as I do not possess a monopoly on 'point of view'. Again, I thank you for allowing me to clarify my response. dbello

user profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 29, 2009 at 2:16 PM (Answer #9)

dislike 0 like

I'm not sure we can say the Constitution has "stood the test of time". It is a 200 year old experiment that pales in comparison to some of the other great civilizations of the world (i.e. Rome, Egypt, Persia, Babylon, etc.) However, I think that it has worked so far because of the system of checks and balances it incorporates. The Founding Fathers knew the effects of allowing one group to establish too much power within a county. That is why they established the check and balances system, so no one branch could become all-powerful. I agree with e-note chris that there have been challenges to this system. Richard Nixon tried to be king, as did other more recent presidents. But, each time, they were brought down by either another branch of government or the people during election time. This system can be frustrating at times because it is subject to many people's ability to hold up the process. But, in the end, the process seems to have worked. It took time and patience, something Americans don't seem to possess in abundance, but it did work. Hopefully, as today's world gets smaller and smaller, the people in government will realize the necessity of working together for the common good instead of fighting turf wars over power and perks.

user profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 29, 2009 at 3:38 PM (Answer #10)

dislike 0 like

ms-mcgregor's post raises a question that I often thought of and sometimes discussed.  Put simply, is the success of our country due to the genius of a document, or is it due to our country's wealth, which has generally been spread out among a large enough part of the population so that most of us had more to gain from a stable society that we would from a revolutionary one?  I often wonder if the constitution would have the "effect" that it does if we had a sufficiently large underclass that had nothing to lose from a revolution ....  Perhaps this is a question for another board, but this seemed like something to bring up here ... or perhaps this IS the reason the constitution has done so well ...?

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes