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Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. 24 Apr '17 09:02
    Here is a simple subject for debate:

    The constitution (of any state) should be reviewed through public debate every 10-15 years and amended or changed if there is need.

    discuss.
  2. 24 Apr '17 09:26
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    Here is a simple subject for debate:

    The constitution (of any state) should be reviewed through public debate every 10-15 years and amended or changed if there is need.

    discuss.
    In Zambia, there has been attempts to change the constitution for the past 20 years or so (and it does get changed). There is a 'constitution commission that travels around the country taking submissions and having discussions. The problem is that the real pressure comes from the ruling party (whichever that is at the time) which usually wants adjustments that will help them win the next election of give them more power.
    My own opinion is that the constitution should be fairly minimal dealing mostly with protections and limitations on government. All other matters should be handled by laws that are set by parliament or other such bodies. As such the constitution should not need regular updates. If anything, its purpose is to protect against democracy and protect against updates by whichever political party is in power at the time. Its a catch 22, how do you democratically protect against democracy?
  3. 24 Apr '17 11:26 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    Here is a simple subject for debate:

    The constitution (of any state) should be reviewed through public debate every 10-15 years and amended or changed if there is need.

    discuss.
    Tricky one in the UK, as ours isn't written down anywhere.
  4. Subscriber Ponderable
    chemist
    24 Apr '17 11:32
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    Here is a simple subject for debate:

    The constitution (of any state) should be reviewed through public debate every 10-15 years and amended or changed if there is need.

    discuss.
    My opinion is:

    * The constitution should be as short as possible.
    * The constitution should be altered very carefully and only after there is a wide Consensus that the Alteration is a constitional necessity.
    * For all practical purposes do have laws which do not challnge the constitution.
    * Especially elections can't be regulated by constitutions.

    * I would even go as far as to forbid frequent alterations. Say lets have 12 years time between them. I know that some People might argue that this will also cement silly changes. But then it will prevent them as easily.
  5. Subscriber Suzianne
    Misfit Queen
    24 Apr '17 11:55
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    In Zambia, there has been attempts to change the constitution for the past 20 years or so (and it does get changed). There is a 'constitution commission that travels around the country taking submissions and having discussions. The problem is that the real pressure comes from the ruling party (whichever that is at the time) which usually wants adjustments ...[text shortened]... ty is in power at the time. Its a catch 22, how do you democratically protect against democracy?
    Why are you saying that a democracy needs "protection against democracy"?

    In the United States, the Constitution's purpose is to protect freedoms. It is a list of rights that the citizens of the US have which is codified and made into law. The purpose of the Constitution has NEVER been to deny rights to citizens, and that is why the so-called "marriage amendment" was never passed.
  6. Subscriber Suzianne
    Misfit Queen
    24 Apr '17 11:57
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    Here is a simple subject for debate:

    The constitution (of any state) should be reviewed through public debate every 10-15 years and amended or changed if there is need.

    discuss.
    To clarify: By "state", you mean "nation", yes?
  7. Subscriber Suzianne
    Misfit Queen
    24 Apr '17 12:06
    Originally posted by Rank outsider
    Tricky one in the UK, as ours isn't written down anywhere.
    Some have said (granted, this is an opinion I've heard many Americans give, especially some who simply haven't learned any better) that for the UK, the Magna Carta serves the same purpose. My first thought is that it is simply too old to hold much relevance today. Surely the document has been superseded by now.
  8. 24 Apr '17 12:15
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    In the United States, the Constitution's purpose is to protect freedoms. It is a list of rights that the citizens of the US have which is codified and made into law.
    For me, as an outsider, it has always seemed that the US Constitution is more 'sacrosanct' than the constitution in the UK. Take the right to bear arms, and whether this means an 18 year old should be allowed to own and use an automatic weapon.

    I see many arguments about whether or not this is 'constitutional'. In the UK, we would not even think this worthy of debate. Either it is a good thing to permit this or not. If we don't, we pass a law. I wonder if codifying these things, particularly when they gain a historical legacy, can sometimes restrict proper debate unhelpfully.
  9. 24 Apr '17 12:22 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    Some have said (granted, this is an opinion I've heard many Americans give, especially some who simply haven't learned any better) that for the UK, the Magna Carta serves the same purpose. My first thought is that it is simply too old to hold much relevance today. Surely the document has been superseded by now.
    It definitely does not serve the same purpose, not even close.

    It is possibly one the documents that is closest in nature to the US Constitution, and has the same kind of emotional resonance, but to argue that its legal application today (as opposed to its influence) is similar is just plain wrong.

    There are only a few clauses in it that haven't been codified into UK law and superseded by statute, of which habeus corpus is one, I believe.
  10. 24 Apr '17 12:23
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    Why are you saying that a democracy needs "protection against democracy"?

    In the United States, the Constitution's purpose is to protect freedoms.
    Exactly. Pure democracy tends to result in the majority getting what they want at the expense of minorities. The constitution is there to protect minorities - to guarantee some minimum standards available to everyone whether or not they are in the majority. Parties may change with time and modify laws to suit their members, but the constitution is there to stay, so you put in it what you want to be the rule even when your worst enemy is in charge.

    On a related note, I object to criminals or people with a criminal record being denied the right to vote. The right to vote should be protected by the constitution.
    On a similar note, Switzerland, often acclaimed for its highly democratic ways, successful denies the vote to a large proportion of its inhabitants by denying them citizenship. Again, a direct failure of democracy.
  11. 24 Apr '17 13:34
    Originally posted by Rank outsider
    Tricky one in the UK, as ours isn't written down anywhere.
    No worries.

    In the US they have it written down but no one ever reads it.

    I think you will find that a Constitution serves more of a warning than actual law. It's kinda like the queen of England. Sure, she is the queen, but........
  12. 24 Apr '17 13:52
    Originally posted by whodey
    No worries.

    In the US they have it written down but no one ever reads it.

    I think you will find that a Constitution serves more of a warning than actual law. It's kinda like the queen of England. Sure, she is the queen, but........
    I think most Supreme Court judges will have read it.
  13. 24 Apr '17 13:53 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Rank outsider
    I think most Supreme Court judges will have read it.
    So that they can reinterpret it to make it say something completely different.

    That's about it.

    It's nothing short than a perpetual Constitutional convention conducted by 9 black robes.
  14. 24 Apr '17 14:08
    Originally posted by whodey
    So that they can reinterpret it to make it say something completely different.

    That's about it.

    It's nothing short than a perpetual Constitutional convention conducted by 9 black robes.
    Give me an example.
  15. 24 Apr '17 14:14
    Originally posted by Rank outsider
    Give me an example.
    Take Marbury vs. Madison. This gave SCOTUS the power to be the ultimate authority on what is Constitutional or is not. Jefferson went into a rage and argued that this was not written anywhere in the Constitution, but lost the argument.

    Then there is the Dred Scott Decision. No where in the Constitution does it say that segregation is Constitutional, but they interpreted it according to political expediency of that time. Luckily, the Civil war blew it to smithereens, but we got lucky.