The U.S. Constitution
Article Five, clause two of the United States Constitution states, "under the Authority of the United States, [the Constitution] shall be the supreme law of the land." As a result of the fact that the current activist government is pursuing inconsistent policies, many believe the Constitution has become irrelevant because no guiding principles seem to exist. Thomas Jefferson once said, "The Constitution belongs to the living and not to the dead." Accordingly, it is often referred to as a "living" document because of its regular alteration and reexamination; therefore, the Constitution has not become irrelevant in defining the goals of American government. This will be shown by examining how the Constitution ensures and upholds American ideas of rights, defines governmental structures, allows for an increase in governmental growth, and permits the Supreme Court to shape and define public policy through Constitutional interpretation.
Through years of research on court cases, political scientists are in agreement that most people favor rights in theory, but their support diminishes when the time to put the rights into practice arrives. For example, a strong percentage of Americans concur with the idea of free speech throughout the United States, but when a court case such as Texas vs. Johnson (1989) arises, most backing shifts away from complete freedom of speech. In the case, a Texan named Gregory Johnson set fire to an American flag during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas in order to protest nuclear arms buildup; the decision was awarded to Johnson in the midst of stern opposition (Beth 68). Lockean philosophy concerning the natural rights of man also serves amajor role in an American's idea of rights. Many citizens feels that it is the task of the state to preserve such birthrights as life, liberty, and property. The juristic theory of rights deals with the hypothesis that a man's natural rights only amounted to the quantity of power he can exercise over any other man. A more general and logical definition of a right is a claim upheld by the law, in which case the Bill of Rights becomes important (Benn 195).
Although the Constitution originally did not contain the Bill of Rights, the states threatened to delay ratification until the amendments were made.
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The U.S. Constitution
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