Not all countries possess a constitution


January 13, 2022

To The Eagle:

Not every country possesses a single, written constitution, and some countries possess them in quirky forms. Nonetheless, these countries remain some of the most free and democratic in the world. Australia’s 1901 constitution lacks what many consider the crown jewel of such documents- a bill of rights. Having one document that sets up a government does not result in better democratic outcomes than having a mix of statutes, norms, and precedents instead. The United Kingdom famously does not have such a document. New Zealand possesses only a decorative one: an ordinary statute that’s been labeled a constitution, and that can be amended the same as any other law

In the U.K.’s unwritten system, virtually nothing is too sacred to be amended: The prescribed length of time between general elections has fluctuated; reform of the U.K.’s top court has taken place; historical government positions have been altered or eliminated. Even major constitutional principles, such as parliamentary sovereignty, have shifted throughout the years as political and economic developments arose. Most of these have been responses to societal change, and did not require tidal-wave constitutional moments.

Although the longevity of America’s written Constitution remains impressive, many of its structures and operations are highly questionable. Recent events seem to have only exposed and exacerbated its flaws.

A popularly elected leader should not be able to receive millions of votes fewer than the challenger but still win the electoral contest. A system of checks and balances should ensure effective and responsible government, not sow chronic political dysfunction. Generations of Americans should not have to live their life without a practical and reasonable opportunity to amend a Constitution badly in need of it. Despite “We the People” prominently introducing the preamble of our Constitution, it is we, the people, who have become largely an afterthought to those who work to outmaneuver each other to seize and hold power over this republic.

JB Bouchard

Puget Island


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