The Constitution of the United States was signed by 39 delegates 230 years ago to the day on Sunday.
There were several glowing tweets on Twitter (#ConstitutionDay), such as ‘greatest political document ever written in human history’ and ‘written by patriots, protected by patriots’.
To me, it is more complicated than that. There is no question that the United States Constitution was a landmark document, and an enormous influence over the constitutions of republics in other parts of the world that came into being later. But over the years, there have been 27 amendments to the original US Constitution, so it had to change and clarify itself with the times. And take the 2005 Iraq Constitution. It guarantees minimum wage, universal health care and free education (acknowledging that Iraq still has a lot of basic peace and security problems to deal with). Section 9 of the 1996 South African Constitution explicitly forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation .. something which is not clear at all in the US Constitution. In fact, the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of 2009 that would end workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with at least 15 employees, has still not become law.