One of the arguments used by those who refuse to accept the requirements and limitations of the
Constitution is the modern liberal doctrine of a “living Constitution".  Under this doctrine, it is claimed that
the Constitution, as written, is outdated and not germane to the modern issues we face today as a nation.  
A companion view is that the Framers deliberately made certain parts of it vague so that it could be
interpreted to fit future needs.  Both of these arguments are easily refuted if one understands the purpose
of constitutions in republican forms of government.

The first principle of republicanism is “rule of law”.  A constitution is a particular type of law that specifies
what government is and is not allowed to do.  In other words, a constitution’s function is to limit the powers
of government, not govern the activities of citizens.  Citizen actions are restricted by statutory law;
government actions are restricted by constitutional law.  

Our Constitution is also a legal contract between the people, the states and the federal government
setting forth the powers that are delegated to the federal government and those that are reserved to the
states and the people.  Like all contracts, the Constitution is binding in perpetuity unless amended by the
consent of all parties involved.

The Founders did not believe they had written a perfect document or that they had created the perfect
form of government.  They recognized that the world a hundred or two-hundred years in the future would
probably be quite different from the one they lived in.  To accommodate the progress of knowledge and
experience and the changing needs that would engender, they provided the means for amending the
Constitution in Article V.

At the same time, they were fully aware of the lust for power by ambitious politicians and the fickleness of
public opinion.  To guard against these two foibles of human nature, they made the process for amending
the Constitution stringent enough to prevent hasty changes made in the heat of partisan fervor or the
pressure of popular political movements.  The difficulty of getting an ill-advised amendment successfully
through the amendment process is what motivated the false liberal rationale of viewing the Constitution as
a living document.

An objective reading of the Constitution without the legal and political interpretations imposed on our
thinking by partisan opinions over the past two hundred years will disprove the claim of vagueness.  The
directness and specificity of the Constitution is what makes it valuable and easily understandble to the
average citizen without legal training. There are a few words whose meaning have been changed over
time by popular usage, but their original meaning can be easily ascertained by consulting writers of the
late nineteenth century, especially those of the Federalist and anti-federalists among the Founders.
Fundamentals: Part 1a -  Is Constitution Outdated?
Liberal Myth No. 1: Times change.  The Constitution is an outdated document.  It is up to Congress and
the courts to update it to keep pace with the changing times and the changing needs of the country.
Liberal Myth 2: The Constitution and the Supreme Court
Next
Back
Bookmark and Share
The Illinois Conservative