The Constitution is arguably one of the most important documents ever written when it comes to history and politics, and that is especially true of the United States.
The importance of the Constitution can’t be understated when it comes to U.S. history and even current events. While the Constitution is currently often used (overused) as a political catch phrase, the truth is that its importance goes way beyond a talking point for any political candidate.
The Constitution was an amazingly radical document when it was first written. The Bill of Rights are the earliest amendments and guarantee certain rights like the right to bear arms, the right for private property owners not to have their property seized by government, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Considering the majority of nations were monarchies, this document overturned the power most were assumed to have and the focus specifically on the rights of individual citizens was a relatively new concept even despite the history of republics like Greece and Rome.
The importance of the Constitution comes not only in the way it helped to form all the laws and cases that would follow in the States, but because of how this country would grow and thrive it would help serve as a model for many other nations to follow. There is a lot of historical literature suggesting that events like the French Revolution were directly affected as a result of seeing the success of the American Revolution.
These showed the concepts of civil liberties, and even mentioning that the rights of individual citizens could not be compromised by the government. This was not a perfect document: one notable issue was the compromise to keep slavery legal when the Declaration of Independence stated that “All men were created equal.” This oversight would eventually lead to the Civil War, but that doesn’t change the importance of these early laws.
There aren’t many historical documents that are 235 years old that are still as relevant to a nation’s code of laws as they are today. Some of these articles are still recognized today for their importance, such as:
1st Amendment: Grants not only the freedom of religious practice for all religions (a concept that still isn’t respected in all parts of the world) as well as specifically barring the government from establishing one religion and promoting that over another.
2nd Amendment: The right for common citizens to bear arms.
4th Amendment: This is the basis of laws preventing illegal search and seizure by police, law enforcement, or other government bodies.
5th Amendment: Gives every citizen the right to due process and prevents issues like double jeopardy.
Other amendments take care of issues like the right to a speedy trial, the need for due process, and for other natural protections that many citizens take for granted. However, at the time the Constitution was written, some of these rights were considered revolutionary in nature, and to have an entire nation and an entire system of laws based around them was amazing.
The importance of the Constitution doesn’t stop with the initial Bill of Rights or the major changes after that, too. Whenever a major case goes up before the Supreme Court, there are major questions about the rights of a given group, or new laws are created by states, all of these are affected by the Constitution.
For example, if a state tries to pass some controversial law, if that law is deemed to contradict the Constitution, that law can get struck down. Even today this is the final standard, and the final word, when it comes to determining which laws are legal and which ones are not.
One other thing that made the Constitution so revolutionary was the fact that it was designed to be amendable. The framers knew that laws would have to change over time as society did, and so by making the document amendable, they knew that over time those laws would get changed as needed to properly protect all the U.S. citizens and their civil liberties.
The U.S. Constitution truly is one of the most amazing documents ever put together and it’s that flexibility that has kept it such a beacon of law even to this day.
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