Introduction to the American Constitution and the Protection of Civil Liberties: The Supreme Court’s Role in American Democracy
In democracies, citizens write constitutions to prevent power from being concentrated in one person, such as a king or dictator, or a single faction, such as a political party, a church, or the military. A constitution tries to provide that conflicts will be resolved through law and that political change will take place nonviolently. An effective constitution secures essential rights to the individual. Of course, the existence of a constitution is no guarantee of freedom, peace, or justice. Slavery, with all of its violence and horrors, defined life for millions of people in the United States for nearly a century under our Constitution (and for centuries before it was written). Nor did the Constitution succeed in ending slavery or the controversy over it. It took the Civil War, America’s bloodiest conflict, which left hundreds of thousands of people dead on our soil, to abolish the “peculiar institution” and change the Constitution. The mere existence of a constitution does not prevent oppression. We can fairly say that a democratic and rights-protecting constitution is a necessary condition in modern life for political justice and stability, but it is not a sufficient one. The other necessary conditions are a decent level of provision for everyone in society to prevent a breakdown in order, political checks against total fear and psychology of war, and an enduring loyalty to the constitution and rule of law in the hearts of the people.
American Constitution, Rule of law, Civil liberties, Constitutional law, Democratic society, Role of Supreme Court
Constitutional Law | Law
Raskin, Jamin B. “Introduction to the American Constitution and the Protection of Civil Liberties: The Supreme Court’s Role in American Democracy.” In Derechos Humanos, Relaciones Internacionales y Globalización, edited by Joaquín González, 611-656. 2nd ed. Bogotá, D.C. Columbia: Grupo Editorial Ibáñez, 2009.