Does the Constitution absolutely require an ethical citizenry to enable it to function properly?Does the Constitution absolutely require an ethical citizenry to enable it to function properly?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that the Constitution does not absolutely require an ethical citizenry to function properly.  The Constitution does a good job of limiting individual abuses of ethics in its makeup.  I believe that the framers were wise enough to understand that the ethical citizenry really helps the Constitution accomplish the initial goals that it set out to realize. However, they were also wise enough to create a system that would ensure that an individual's negative freedom, or right to be left alone, would prevent much in way of abuse.  The Constitution speaks fairly well to the how individual ethical violations can occur, but do not damage the ability of other individuals to be left alone.  At the same time, the level of positive freedom, the ability to actively take steps that help to define one's place in the world, that the Constitution allows enables individuals to offset ethical violations.  American History has been filled with examples of both public and private citizens who have acted without ethical regard for others and the Constitution has not suffered irreparable damage.  It is here where the document is time- tested, in that individuals who act ethically certainly help with its realization, but the absolute need to ethical conduct is something that the Constitution can transcend.

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