Our post yesterday questioning whether the U.S. Constitution is perhaps too old for its own good -- based on a new Wash U. study showing that foreign countries no longer emulate it the way they once did in the past -- prompted a call from attorney Dave Roland of the Freedom Center of Missouri, who suggested that the story as we conveyed it did not present the full constitutional-law picture.
The Freedom Center of Missouri is a relatively new non-profit libertarian organization that promotes limited government. One of its most recent claims to fame is representing the Hazelwood girl scout who was admonished by her local government for selling cookies in her driveway. (They lost their court battle.)
Roland, the Missouri center's director of litigation, who is pictured above and has a very pleasant demeanor, phoned us in response to the lead of our blog post -- namely, that the U.S. Constitution does not protect women's rights, the right to work, the right to education, the presumption of innocence and the right to unionize or strike.
Americans should not be alarmed that those protections are not written into our original legal document, says Roland; the U.S. Constitution is designed to work in conjunction with the states' constitutions, which do protect those rights, he says.
"If you look at our own Missouri Constitution, that's where we get the right to educate, the right to bargain collectively with representatives of our own choosing," says Roland. "There are women's rights built into the Missouri Constitution, as well as other state constitutional provisions. One of the reasons the U.S. Constitution is as limited as it is is because of the expectation that the states would fill in those gaps."
Pressed as to whether he completely rejected the idea that the Constitution is a breathing document that could benefit from a little fresh oxygen, Roland says he is open to it -- particularly in regard to things his organization believes in, like a balanced-budget provision.
"I think it would be worthwhile to renew the contract with the people," he says, noting that the Constitution should mesh with the desires of what he considers our "center-right" country.
"The Founders were always open to changes," he continues. "I think we should be constantly having a conversation as to whether the Constitution meets our needs. One of founding principles of the United States is that the governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and we don't want to lose the consent of the people."
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