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Study Notes

Unit 4 Essay Advice: "The US Constitution is no longer fit for purpose in modern day America. Discuss"

Level:
A Level
Board:
AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This Study Note lists many of the key terms you would need to understand and use if you answered this question in the exam, and also 10 super examples to help you gain the highest possible marks.

Make sure you can explain each of the terms below:

  • US Constitution
  • Constitutional Convention 1787
  • Article I
  • Article II
  • Article III
  • The Framers / Founding Fathers
  • Federalism
  • Legislative Power
  • Executive Power
  • Judicial Power
  • Bill of Rights
  • Constitutional Amendments
  • Unconstitutional
  • Judicial Review
  • Originalism
  • Anachronistic

Contemporary Examples

The US Constitution is no longer fit for purpose in modern day America

  1. The actions of Edward Snowden in uncovering the mass surveillance by the US Government shows the Bill of Rights is no longer respected by the US Government.
  2. The legislative process set out in the Constitution means gridlock is inevitable. 2013 was, in legislative terms the most unproductive year in American history.
  3. The Every Vote Counts Amendment of 2005 would have abolished the Electoral College, but process to amend is difficult, so it failed, and left a system that means a winner in vote counts can still lose.

The US Constitution is still fit for purpose in modern day America

  1. Rights have been established in America using provisions within the Constitution such as the establishment of SameSex marriage in Obergefell v Hodges 2015, under the Equal Protection Clause.
  2. Allows for citizens’ rights to be protected from government such as some provisions from George W Bush’s PATRIOT Act after 9/11 which has sweeping powers over civil liberties.
  3. The right to privacy has been found in the Constitution from the 1965 Griswold v Connecticut case, even though the wording of the Constitution is not explicit on the matter.

Historical Examples

The US Constitution is no longer fit for purpose in modern day America

  1. The Constitution is vague on the power of the judiciary, and as such the Supreme Court gained too much power and has become an imperial judiciary through the power of judicial review found in Marbury v Madison 1803
  2. Not since 1941 has Congress used the War Clause to declare war on a nation. However, the US has been called into military conflict many times since then, through the actions of the President. Presidents cannot declare war.

The US Constitution is still fit for purpose in modern day America

  1. The Constitution has been amended to make the government of the US more modern such as the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment allowing direct election to the Senate in 1913
  2. The Constitution can change to reflect modern America such as the passage of 13th and 14th Amendment which nullified the Three Fifths Compromise over slaves.

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