This essay explains the purpose, limits, and how to amend the Constitution.
| The Constitution Is A Living Document
Our 220 year old Constitution remains a living document because it has continued to meet the needs of our changing country. It was written in 1787 in order to help form a stronger nation. An example of why the Constitution was needed could be seen after the Revolutionary War. Farmers thought the taxes brought on them were unfair. If they were unable to pay these unfair taxes, they could have their possessions sold, or even be put in jail. This caused the farmers to unite in an armed protest against the county court. This worked temporarily, but state leaders knew this wasn't the way to handle problems. There needed to be a written law that had input from the people. In order for the Constitution to be fair, it needed to be divided and have certain powers assigned to each branch.
The founders of the Constitution had to make sure that there were limits to the powers provided within the government. Two ways this can be shown is through “checks and balances” and the “principle of limited government”. The government is divided into three branches, the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. Under checks and balances, each branch is allowed to check on all the other branches to make sure what they are doing is correct. For example, in the Legislative branch, Congress makes the laws. If the president agrees with a law, he can sign off on it or if he doesn't, he can refuse to sign it. The Supreme Court, within the Judicial branch, interprets the laws. If they believe a law is in violation to the Constitution, they won't pass the law. The principle of limited government states that everyone, including powerful political figures, are held to the same standards. This means that every person must obey the law. For example, if the president were to steal, he would get the same punishment as a common citizen. Although powers are assigned and limited, there always needs to be room for change.
When the Constitution was written, the Framers knew that changes would need to be made as time passed. When writing the Constitution, they made the rule on how to amend the it. Since the Constitution has been written, there have been 27 amendments passed. The purpose of the amendments were to make rights for all people better. For example, when the Constitution was written, women were not allowed to vote. On August 18, 1920, Amendment 19 was ratified stating that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex”. Amending the Constitution is a two step process. First you have to propose an amendment. Either two-thirds of each house of Congress vote to amend the Constitution or two-thirds of state legislatures call for a national convention. If the amendment passes, then it has to be ratified. Either three-fourths of state legislatures approve the amendment or three-fourths of state approve the amendment at state conventions. If this happens, the amendment is put into the Constitution. I'm glad that our Constitution allows our voices to be heard and can always be changed as our country needs it.