A recent study reported that fewer nations are modeling their constitutions on the U.S. Constitution. In the ’60s and ’70s, new constitutions were patterned on the American version, but that apparently is no longer the case.
The explanation for this trend is that our Constitution is miserly when it comes to guaranteeing “rights.” Popular “rights” found in other constitutions, but not ours, include women’s rights, the right to work, the right to education, and the right to strike or unionize. On the other hand, our Constitution provides for the right to keep and bear arms, whereas most modern constitutions do not.
The implication of the study is that our Constitution is somehow passe. In the “rights race,” we’re falling behind! We’re not keeping up with modern trends followed by enlightened nations everywhere!
Is anyone really troubled by this? Ours was the first true written constitution, and it has served us well. Other nations have them because our form of government has served as a model. But there is a big difference between writing words on paper and actually living up to the concepts they express. History shows that lofty ideals often are written in the otherwise ignored “constitutions” of repressive regimes.
Let’s not forget, either, that our Constitution was designed to sketch our government, its officers, and its functioning in broad strokes, allowing for flexibility and development over time. In contrast, the “constitutions” described in the study sound more like statute books that leave little room for creativity and the need to respond to unexpected circumstances — like a crappy economy that interferes with the “right to work.” The Greek Constitution, for example, includes “right to work” provisions. How’s that working out for Greeks these days?
So, I don’t care if our Constitution has fallen out of favor with the camp followers who are drafting constitutions these days. I’ll listen when their so-called “constitutions” have endured for 225 years, survived a civil war, and allowed their countries to become the most prosperous, democratic countries on Earth.