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The Constitution should be rewritten

Lia Piccoli / The SPOKE

By Shreya Vaidhyanathan, Co-Managing Editor

In 1787, our nation’s framers wrote and signed a document that would determine future American policy. Now, in 2024, the U.S. Constitution is becoming less relevant within today’s America.

The Constitution is incorrect from its very first words: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union.” The list of 39 signers boasts names such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin — but can a group of white men from before the turn of the 19th century speak for the “People of the United States” now?

Since 1780, the demographics of the American population have drastically changed. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, racial categorization in the census began based on Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, accounting for “Slaves” as a racial group until 1860. If the Census Bureau shifts its categories and language as the population changes, the Constitution should adapt in the same way to better reflect and serve its people, just as the Founding Fathers imagined it would.

The Constitution  references slavery and the Three-Fifths Compromise. It is common sense to want to remove terms such as “free persons” and “those bound to Service for a Term of Years,” never mind the usage of “Indians” to refer to Native Americans. The “People” the Constitution referred to are a wildly different group of individuals than exist in the US now; it is time for an update in the Constitution’s language.

Twenty-three times, the Constitution refers to the President or a member of Congress as “he.” That is 160 million American women counted  out, discouraged yet again from pursuing a career in politics. This isn’t a new problem: this language has been outdated since 1872, when Victoria Claflin Woodhull became the first woman to run for U.S. presidency. Using only male pronouns to refer to public office might have been understandable in the 18th century when women could not vote, but it does not account for the 151 women currently serving in Congress, as the Pew Research Center recorded last year.

Besides the outdated language in the document, there are disconnects between present-day technology and what existed at the time of the Constitution. For example, the Second Amendment cemented “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” but did not account for the 800,000 handguns that Americans bought just last month, according to independent newsroom The Trace.

Rockefeller Institute found that increased firearm availability means higher rates of homicide. The rifles of the late 1700s are incompatible with the semi-automatics and pistols of 2024, and American legislation must be amended to reflect that.

Also, in an age of digital data collection and mass surveillance by governments, the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures is insufficient in terms of specificity and its lack of addressing technology.

Yes, our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to outlive them and with the intention to accommodate America for decades to come, but the harsh reality is that both the Constitution’s language and content needs revamping. America in 1787 is not America in 2024, and our foundation of government should reflect that.

Shreya Vaidhyanathan can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Shreya Vaidhyanathan
Shreya Vaidhyanathan, Co-Managing Editor
Shreya Vaidhyanathan is a senior and the Co-Managing Editor of The Spoke. In her time at The Spoke, she has served as a Webmaster and the Opinion Editor. In furthering her commitment to journalism, Shreya works closely with the Student Press Law Center to secure student journalists’ constitutional rights and hopes to get the the PA Student Journalism Protection Act passed. She also interns for state Senator Carolyn Comitta, holds a black belt in Tang Soo Do and leads a childhood cancer research fundraiser with Conestoga's student council.