Saturday, February 11, 2012

U.S. Constitution no longer ‘go to’ nation building document

The U.S. Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect the right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care, according to Adam Liptak of the New York Times.  The U.S. Constitution is no longer the model for other burgeoning democracies around the world.

According to Liptak, other nations routinely trade in their constitutions wholesale, replacing them on average every 19 years. By odd coincidence, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison, once said that every constitution “naturally expires at the end of 19 years” because “the earth belongs always to the living generation.”

On September 6, 1789, Jefferson included the following passage in the letter to Madison, “Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19. years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force and not of right.”

In an interview during a visit to Egypt last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court said, “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” She recommended, instead, the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter or the European Convention on Human Rights, reported the Times.

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