• Video

Why Should We Be Bound by the Constitution?

Professor Ilan Wurman explains that in order to decide if we should be bound by the Constitution, we first have to understand the objectives of it. A Constitution for a free society has to balance both self-government and natural liberty. A Constitution that continues to achieve this balance rightfully deserves renewed allegiance. https://youtube.com/watch?v=-ZZBP3CQ6IQ


We are not bound by the Constitution of our Founders merely because the Founders themselves wrote it. We are only bound by the Constitution if here and now we the people recognize that that Constitution is our law and more importantly should continue to be our law. And to answer that question, should we be bound by the Constitution? Should the Constitution be our law? We have to understand what a Constitution for a free society was intended to accomplish and whether our Constitution does in fact accomplish those objectives. A Constitution for a free society has to principally do one thing, it has to balance the two competing objectives of a free government. On the one hand, the Constitution has to create a regime of self-government, it has to create a regime by which we the people can decide for ourselves, through our elected representatives, what kind of people and society we want to be, morally, politically, socially, economically, culturally. On the other hand, a Constitution for a free society also has to protect a large measure of natural liberty. Because we are in a state of equal liberty in the state of nature, there would be no purpose in entering into civil society if we gave up too many of our natural rights without extra benefits of it being in a civil society. But as any student of politics knows, these two objectives are in tension with each other. It's often popular majorities that infringe on the rights of minorities. A Constitution for a free society has to balance the competing objectives of a free government, self-government, and the preservation of liberty. And the Founders' Constitution did this through ingenious mechanisms, mechanisms that had never existed before in other systems. Mechanisms like the separation of powers, checks and balances, the enumeration of powers, the division of federal and state power, the representative mechanism itself was a novelty at the time, and, of course, we can't forget the Bill of Rights. Through these ingenious mechanisms, the Founders ensured that our Constitution would create a regime of self-government but one that also protected liberty. And for that reason, they matter today in so far as their Constitution still successfully balances these competing objectives.

Related Content