The U.S. constitution, as Thomas Jefferson argued, should be easily amendable
Background info:The United States Constitution has been the supreme law of the land since its ratification in 1789. Growing out of a perceived failure of the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution was written to provide more power and cohesion to the central government. Since 1789, 27 amendments have been added to the constitution. Notably, the first ten, known as the Bill of Rights, guarantee citizens’ civil liberties and were ratified in 1791; amendments 13,14, and 15 are known as the Reconstruction Amendments and provide the civil rights of citizenship, equality, and voting to all males, including to those enslaved prior to the civil war. The process to amend the constitution is rather arduous, and apart from the 27 that have been ratified, the Constitution has remained unchanged since 1789. Amendments are the only way to alter the constitution, including the retroactive changing of a previous amendment.Many different philosophies exist in regards to amending the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison lied on different sides of this debate. Jefferson believed that “the earth belongs in usufruct to the living … the dead having neither rights nor powers over it.” Essentially, he argues that we should not be subject to the beliefs and decisions made by past generations simply because they are codified in constitutions: that present and future generations could do better as the world develops, but only if there is less rigidity in the Constitution. Madison, on the other hand, responded that stability and predictability, rather than rigidity, is good in order to make a stable society. Having a code of principled laws that is difficult to change and overturn, he argued, helps society withstand fits of partisan passion and division. Additionally, the changes that the present and future make could be worse than what was written originally.While it appears Madison’s philosophies have prevailed on paper, these arguments persist today outside of changing constitutional texts. The biggest divide on the supreme court is between those who have a strict interpretation of the constitution and those who apply its word more liberally. But what about the text itself? For the Politics section’s NewViewNovember prompt, we ask you to respond to the following statement:The U.S. constitution, as Thomas Jefferson argued, should be easily amendable.There is no right answer to this prompt. Prompts are written in the from of a statement to fit with agreement/disagreement/other and do not imply the opinion of NewViewNews or contest judges. Responses may fall somewhere in-between these three responses, and we ask you not to stress about which category to put it in as all opinions are equally valid, and nuance is something to neither avoid nor force.You will not be judged based on what your opinion is, but, rather, how well you deliver your argument. Some criteria of good articles include intelligible, well-reasoned arguments that are thorough in their response. While we feel specific rubrics are too creatively constraining of the writing process, we want to stress that plagiarism will not be tolerated. Also, the use of sources is encouraged if your article may benefit from it. Pictures are required for the purposes of thumbnails but will not be judged as a part of your article for content purposes.NewViewNovember is a month-long series of contests hosted on NewViewNews. All seven topics of NewViewNews (business, entertainment, politics, religion, social issues, sports, and technology) have their own opinion prompt to respond to. The best response to each prompt receives $25 at the end of the month and the best site-wide opinion article, including NewViewNovember responses, for the month receives $50. For information on how to respond to articles, check this section of our how-to guide. For our opinion contest headquarters, navigate to the "contest" page. Any questions can be directed to [email protected]We are also running a news article contest! More information can be found on the "contest" page.Further reading for this prompt can be found in the sources section.
How to amend the constitution: https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution Jefferson’s Thoughts (Begin’s second to last paragraph): http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/presidents/thomas-jefferson/letters-of-thomas-jefferson/jefl246.php Madison argues to his fellow federalists that while they should allow amendments, they ought to be moderate: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-12-02-0126 The Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10): https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/billofrights Amendments 11-27: https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/amendments-11-27 Wikipedia: List of Proposed Amendments to the United States Constitution: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_proposed_amendments_to_the_United_States_Constitution#19th_century
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