Home Ammending the Constitution

Ammending the Constitution

Thomas Jefferson on ammending the Constitution:

“I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” Thomas Jefferson

Our Constitution includes within it a process– one with an intentionally high bar– for changing it. This is because the men who drafted it had the humility to realize they didn’t know everything. This process should not be used casually (his comment about “correcting their ill effects” was a more eloquent way of referring to the devil you know) but that doesn’t mean we should be afraid to make changes when there is a clear need combined with a broad nationwide consensus.

However, both must exist: a clear need AND a broad nationwide consensus. I can’t think of a single issue today that meets both those criteria, YET. Only with time does public opinion move towards new consensus. Using the states as a laboratory of public policy is a great way to test out concepts and build up the evidence to support such consensus. Give things a few decades– these wheels move slowly for a reason. (The Jefferson quote came into my conciousness via Gruber.)

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.