Thursday, November 26, 2015

That's exceptional, America!

That's exceptional, America!


Glenn Beck and the Tea Party -- well, what's left of those -- have spent much of the last three years obsessing on the sacredness of the U.S. Constitution.

The rest of the world? Not so much.

Why? This eye-opening piece in the New York Times gives several intriguing reasons, but the biggest one, quite simply, is that it doesn't go far enough in granting people basic human rights:

These days, the overlap between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and those most popular around the world is spotty. We recognize rights not widely protected, including ones to a speedy and public trial, and we are an outlier in prohibiting government establishment of religion. But the Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.

We have our idiosyncrasies. Only 2 percent of the world’s constitutions protect, as our Second Amendment does, a right to bear arms. (Our brothers in arms are Guatemala and Mexico.)

The Constitution’s waning global stature is consistent with the diminished influence of the Supreme Court, which “is losing the central role it once had among courts in modern democracies,” Aharon Barak, then the president of the Supreme Court of Israel, wrote in The Harvard Law Review in 2002.

Many foreign judges say they have become less likely to cite decisions of the United States Supreme Court, in part because of what they consider its parochialism.

Of course, we could always amend our Constitution to make it better. Good luck with that.

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Will Bunch
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