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The Constitution should not be rewritten

Chiho Jing / The SPOKE

By Abby Bagby, Co-Managing Editor

We the People of the United States are fortunate enough to live in a nation governed by one of the greatest documents ever written. The principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution have been replicated by nearly every major democratic power since its enactment.

The lack of diversity among the Founding Fathers, while an unfortunate product of their time, is not reflected in the framework they developed which has allowed progress toward one of the most inclusive governments in the history of mankind. While the Constitution’s age does not detract from its greatness, it has caused some to suggest that the document should be rewritten. The fact is that the Constitution is being reinterpreted, and thus “rewritten,” every single day.

The preeminence of the Constitution lies not exclusively in the text that was written in 1787 but also in its implications as the nation developed. It is a living, breathing document, which the courts interpret each day in the context of a modern America.

Consider the Second Amendment, which was ratified in 1791, before present-day firearms and modifications had been developed. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld federal arms restrictions such as those on short-barreled shotguns, machine guns and silencers.

Interpretation of the Fourth Amendment has similarly progressed in its restriction on “search and seizure” to limit governmental intrusion through technological advancements in the digital age. Though not everyone can be appeased by the Supreme Court’s decisions on various issues, the Constitution has and will continue to draw lines which are appropriate in present-day contexts.

The document is adaptable by its own provisions, which serve to keep it relevant. Although the Constitution initially permitted slavery, the implications of the Three-Fifths Compromise were nullified upon the ratification of the 13th and 14th Amendments.

Similarly, the use of male pronouns in referring to the president and members of Congress does not impose an exclusion of women from these positions. Regarding the value of male pronouns in the Constitution, Duke Law School Professor Darrell Miller stated that “too close a parsing, too much logic-chopping turns the Constitution from a legal structure for government into a symbolist poem.”

The lack of modern, gender-inclusive language in the original document is simply irrelevant, as demonstrated by the 151 women who currently sit in Congress and the four who sit on the Supreme Court — not to mention the vice president of the United States.

The Constitution, through its amendment process, allows for substantive adaptation. Amendments must undergo a rigorous proposal and ratification process, which ensures that any alterations align with the will of the people. Its slow, tedious nature, albeit frustrating for some, is necessary to prevent tyranny.

More than a million of Americans have fought and died defending the principles enshrined by the Constitution. The American Dream, which has been and continues to be sought after by many, began with that very document. The sacrifices made by people of all backgrounds over hundreds of years serve as reminders of its value. The Constitution is the backbone of the greatest nation on Earth. Without it, what is America?

Abby Bagby can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Abby Bagby
Abby Bagby, Co-Managing Editor
Abigail Bagby is a senior and the Co-Managing Editor of The Spoke. She has previously served as a Sports Editor and the T/E Life Editor. In addition to her work for The Spoke, she enjoys playing competitive squash, serving as captain of Conestoga's girls' squash team, as well as leading the school's Pillboxes for Patients club and engaging in the Annenberg Symposium. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering in her community, going to Eagles games and running with friends.