Is the Constitution a Living Document?

March 15, 2023


Penelope Barker



My daughter had to write a short answer essay to a very important question: “is the Constitution a living document?”. This question really got me thinking of some truths that are really important to have the correct answer to. I believe she answered the question well and I am very proud of her. However, this made me want to talk about my answer to this question.

To understand the question that was required of my daughter we must first understand what a living document is. I researched the phrase “living document“, I found it is a document that changes based on events, circumstances, and needs. They go by other names such as dynamic or evergreen documents. They are continually edited and updated based on the perceived needs of the present.

With this definition in mind, should the U.S. Constitution change based on how we perceive the present? Have the circumstances that created the principles of the Constitution changed? I am going to say no.

The founders wrote the Constitution on principles that cannot change as they are based on the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. They created a system that, if done right, would be a way to maintain freedom and keep us from tyranny. They had lived through tyranny in England and understood very well that if we don’t have a proper limited government system, tyranny is what we will get.

We have seen throughout history the repetitions of what starts a great country that eventually falls into chaos because of these ideals. Humanity always wants to empower and trust the people that govern them. Unfortunately, history has proven that humanity cannot handle this type of emotional based government. Our Constitution provides a limited government developed on truths rather than emotion.

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays in favor of the ratification of the Constitution
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays in favor of the ratification of the Constitution

The Federalist Papers and letters, written by our founders, discuss the impacts of different systems of government. I encourage you to get a copy of them and study them, as these men were intelligent and not influenced by political affiliations or party lines. These papers discuss what can change over time and what kind of system can stand the test of time.

The usual downfall of nations is overreach of power. The main goal in forming the constitution was to set safeguards to prevent our public servants and government from taking too much power and enslaving the people. Today, I believe our government struggles in this very area due to changing or ignoring principles in our Constitution.

Politicians have changed our laws to match their perceived view of what we need in the present. When they did this, they changed our system to one that rules us for “our safety”. They disregard the United States Constitution and instead tell us how we are to live every aspect of our lives. If you don’t believe me, then take a good look at all the “rules” we are required to follow and what we can get put in jail for.

Can we question our elections to ensure they are safe? Can we decide what is best for your own children? Can we build a house or have a business without permission? People cannot exercise their constitutional rights to voice their opinions anymore because it is labeled “hate speech”.

The Constitution is not being followed if we disregard the boundaries the founders put on our government. Without these boundaries, it will not function properly, and will spiral our nation into chaos and tyranny, as we have seen.

We the people need to know what our founders intended and what our Constitution says. We need to understand that it is concrete and should not be altered or swayed from. When we have that education, our public servants will again be working for the people. They have an oath to the United States.

Penelope Barker
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Written by Penelope Barker