According to a study described by this New York Times article , our constitution is increasingly out of step with its counterparts around the world.  Where once ours was the model, now people are looking to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (which, if memory serves, was more or less modeled on the way in which liberal courts were interpreting our Bill of Rights, while leaving room for a kind of residual parliamentary supremacy).

According to the Times :

The rights guaranteed by the American Constitution are parsimonious by international standards, and they are frozen in amber. As Sanford Levinson wrote in 2006 in “Our Undemocratic Constitution,” “the U.S. Constitution is the most difficult to amend of any constitution currently existing in the world today.” (Yugoslavia used to hold that title, but Yugoslavia did not work out.)

Other nations routinely trade in their constitutions wholesale, replacing them on average every 19 years. By odd coincidence, Thomas Jefferson, in a 1789 letter to James Madison , once said that every constitution “naturally expires at the end of 19 years” because “the earth belongs always to the living generation.” These days, the overlap between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and those most popular around the world is spotty.

Americans recognize rights not widely protected, including ones to a speedy and public trial, and are outliers in prohibiting government establishment of religion. But the Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.


Rather than fall into lockstep with people who seem not to understand the difference between changeable and  “prolix” legal codes and fundamental laws, not to mention that between entitlements created by positive law and fundamental rights, I’ll stick with what we have, thank you very much.

We may not be successful in persuading others to adopt our ways, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we should follow in their footsteps, whatever our globalizing elites might urge upon us.

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