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thekoukoureport's avatar

Do you belive the founding fathers would have written the same Constitution today?

Asked by thekoukoureport (4023points) September 16th, 2010

Given where we are as a country today, do you think the founders would have found the same system of government capable?

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25 Answers

missingbite's avatar

I believe they are rolling over in their graves. But yes I think they would try.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Yes,they would have done it the same.You can’t improve on perfection.

zen_'s avatar

The Fluther Founders?

jaytkay's avatar

Their attitudes towards slavery had room for improvement.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

If they knew what some of the problems it caused today, they might change it a little, but I don’t think they would’ve rewritten the whole constitution. It’s a concrete set of laws they have over all.

missingbite's avatar

@jaytkay Let’s not lump them all together. I know we don’t teach real history anymore…but we should.

zen_'s avatar

Let me explain further: the person who mentioned it is a first year Psych major. I didn’t have time to discuss it – but she was adamant about everyone being OCD. I told her it didn’t sound right to me – but she was certain (and I guess was told this – or read it somewhere). Is there some school of thought behind this?

Austinlad's avatar

Interesting question. I think that e same group of men met today to write a new founding document, or update the oiginal – and they were products of their time but somehow cognizant of what the country is like today – I think that while their intentions would be the same they might very well frame the document differently.

crazyivan's avatar

I think the 2nd ammendment might read differently in an age of semi-automiatic assault rifles.

tinyfaery's avatar

This is pure speculation. If the founders were alive today they would be entirely different people and, therefore, would not have any of the same thoughts or ideals.

Ben_Dover's avatar

You betch yure bottom dollar they would. Or die trying.

josie's avatar

The principles are universal. They would write a similar framework.

crazyivan's avatar

@tinyfaery I think the point of the mental exercise is that we assume they are the same people. I mean, by your reckoning (ie they would be completely different), the question reads “If different people were alive day, and they are, would they write the constitution the same way?”

Can’t imagine that was what thekoukoureport was asking…

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’m on board with Austinlad. That group of men did an excellent job of looking at the big picture and from a futuristic aspect as far as they could see. If they were to come back today and still keep the same values, my bet is that they would re-craft the wording, or at minimum, make some new amendments.

Jaxk's avatar

The priciples laid out in the constitution are timeless. I doubt that even today, there would be much change. The Court interpretations however, are not timeless. I believe the founders may have been surprised by some of those interpretations and worked to clarify some of the language. The ‘Commerce Clause’ comes to mind. When the Founding Fathers came together one of the issues was interstate commerce. The states were acting independently and interstate commerce was suffering. The commerce clause was their attempt to resolve that.

Unfortunately it has become the single most used clause to expand government power. In 1942 (Wickard v. Filburn) the court ruled that the federal government had the power to regulate the production of wheat grown on a private farm for the private use of the farmer (to feed his livestock). The court ruled that since he was growing his own wheat, he would not be buying wheat and the wheat he didn’t buy may have grown in another state. Therefore the interstate commerce clause applied. The rulings have become so obtuse as to be unbelievable if you don’t actually see them in writing. I believe the founding fathers would be aghast at the distortion of this clause and would feel obligated to rewrite it. Not really a failing of the constitution but rather a failing of the courts.

fundevogel's avatar

To everyone that says the Constitution is a timeless, perfect document, I’ve got two words for you: 3/5th compromise. Nothing is infallible.

I expect that given the chance they would have clarified the first amendment since people have a tendency to interpret that in various ways. I also think they should have explicitly mentioned the right to privacy and bodily autonomy since those continue to be areas of contention. Of course we don’t need an old parchment to tell us what is and isn’t just, but it’s nice to enshrine rights worth defending in the law.

Ben_Dover's avatar

We need to make a new parchment if you want to include privacy laws. Or continually upgrade the old parchment.

The founding fathers had no idea we would be invading each others’ privacy as deeply as we do.

fundevogel's avatar

@Ben_Dover I’m fine with a regular ol’ amendment when the time comes. I’m not sure if they write those down anywhere special.

Austinlad's avatar

@tinyfaery, well sure the comments to this question are pure speculation. Half the questions on Fluther call for pure speculation. It’s called suspension of disbelief, and it allows for the expression of ideas and opinions about “what if’s” that we don’t normally aren’t able to think about, let alone share. That’s what makes Fluther fun.

wundayatta's avatar

Absolutely not! The Constitution was a product of its time. There is so much technology and so much history since then and that has changed a lot about what people think is important. Some things would be similar, but I’d say it would be at least 25% different from the one we have now.

crazyivan's avatar

@fundevogel Great point, but I think it bares mention that the 3/5ths compromise was not written into the original constitution.

jaytkay's avatar

I think it bares mention that the 3/5ths compromise was not written into the original constitution.


Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Jaxk's avatar


At the time of the Declaration of independence, slavery was on the decline. It wasn’t until the invention of the Cotton Gin in 1793 that slavery saw a resurgence as slave ownership became much more profitable. The founding fathers did not anticipate this event generally believed slavery would die out.

I agree with you that if they had foreseen the rise in slavery they would have worked much harder to eliminate it. I suspect they may have even worked to level the playing field for women as well. Nonetheless, the tenets of the constitution allowed for the correction of these errors. That is the beauty of the document, it provides for the correction of any initial failings.

crazyivan's avatar

@jaytkay My bad! Not sure what orifice my head was up when I wrote that. I was mixing up facts about the articles of confederation (which is where the debate on the 3/5ths compromise began). Thanks.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Slavery, religion, free speach, the electoral college, gun rights, all have seen challenges that the founding fathers could not have possibly forseen. (hell even prohibition for that matter). Is it because the framers left it so vague? Therefore open to interpretation that has allowed this document to remain successful, or is it because of it’s vague nature that the government has been allowed to do what the framers feared. Warrantless wiretapping and other things that have taken away our freedoms for example.

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