What has enabled the Constitution of the United States to survive  from a collection of 13 states into a powerful nation?

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One reason that the Constitution has survived as long as it has is that the political leaders and jurists in American history have changed its definition over time, rather than (generally speaking) insisting on a dogmatically strict interpretation of it. So rather than having to completely revamp the document to...

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One reason that the Constitution has survived as long as it has is that the political leaders and jurists in American history have changed its definition over time, rather than (generally speaking) insisting on a dogmatically strict interpretation of it. So rather than having to completely revamp the document to deal with changing political and social realities, we have chosen to interpret it differently over time. While this process has always been hotly contested, it has enabled the Constitution to be fairly flexible by interpreting it in ways that its framers could not have anticipated. For example, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed segregation among other things, was passed, part of the constitutional basis for it was found in Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce. The Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") was upheld by the Supreme Court on the basis of the Taxation Clause of Article I of the Constitution. These are just two examples of how expanded (some might say strained) interpretations of the Constitution have helped keep it workable into the twenty-first century. It is also true that several amendments have been added that have helped to iron out many of the conflicts resulting from changing social attitudes. The Nineteenth Amendment, for example, expanded the American electorate to include women. Finally, we should remember that the Constitution almost did not survive--it took a civil war to resolve some of the underlying issues that the Framers chose not to address directly when crafting the document.

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