Do We Really Need the Constitution?

Louis Seidman: Why should long-dead white men be calling the shots?
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2012 12:29 PM CST
Do We Really Need the Constitution?
Is it time to get rid of the Constitution?   (Shutterstock)

A Constitutional scholar has an announcement to make: That old document is obsolete. "Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues, and inflamed our public discourse," writes Louis Michael Seidman in the New York Times. "Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago." The whole process is "bizarre."

For instance, US leaders could arrive at a conclusion through reasoned thought, only to be shut down when someone points out that "a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law, and thought it was fine to own slaves" could have opposed the idea. Indeed, the US has often rejected Constitutional tenets throughout history for the better, as in the process of ending slavery. The lack of a constitution wouldn't mean a "state of nature"; it would mean arguing based on present-day merits and long-held tradition, as Britain does. Click through for Seidman's full column. (More US Constitution stories.)

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