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The Scoop - Our Constitution very, very old
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I wonder what our Constitution says about texting and driving?

What wisdom did our Founding Fathers provide when it comes to drive-by shootings?

As our nation pauses to celebrate our independence this weekend, it's an appropriate time to look at our Constitution. The first thing to stress is our Constitution was ratified years after our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, but it's still the primary foundational block of our great nation.

It's become popular for politicians to stand up and say, "We need to follow the Constitution!" But should we blindly follow a document written well before any of us were born?

Our Constitution clearly provides the framework for America, most notably establishing three separate branches of power in the Executive, Judicial and Legislative Branches. As the political cartoon accurately asserts at the top of this page, the Judicial Branch, led by the U.S. Supreme Court, seems to be a growing extension of the Legislative Branch with Justices simply voting along party lines on every key issue.

The main thing that sticks out in my mind about our Constitution is its age at well over 225 years old. It was written before there was social media, or cocaine dealers on street corners, or before 13-year-olds were gunned down on their way home from a basketball game. It was written before basketball games.

Our Constitution is by no means perfect. It was nearly 100 years old before it abolished slavery with the 13th Amendment. It was well over 100 years old before it gave women the right to vote. 

And it briefly prohibited making or selling alcoholic beverages nationwide with the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919 before completely changing its mind with the Twenty-First Amendment of 1933 to make alcohol legal again.

To illustrate the age of our Constitution, I'd like to mention an Airport Commission meeting earlier this year where our county officials were arguing about changes that needed to be made. It was pointed out our airport is operating under some very old bylaws.

Said one county commissioner in voicing the need for some more modern regulations, "The airport right now is operating off a resolution that was passed in 1947. That is a 75-year-old resolution and it has run its course.”

I agree. A 75-year-old resolution probably needs some updating to reflect the current needs of our airport. By the same token, our Constitution provides a foundation, but it should never be used as a replacement for common sense. 

Our Founding Fathers were wise, but they wrote the Constitution at a time when they were getting around on horseback and using candles for light. I'd hate to think the reason for keeping an outdated law is "because the Constitution says so!"

Instead of following the Constitution with complete disregard to reason, we should be more concerned with doing what's best for America right now.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.