The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
Our forefathers knew they weren’t perfect, and that the Constitution they created wasn’t perfect, either. They didn’t want to leave us at the mercy of their every word, regardless of what new challenges or judgments arose in future generations. But at the same time, they valued stability in government and believed that a Constitution could not serve its purpose—to limit government’s power and scope—if it could be changed on a whim or simply reinterpreted to suit one’s political agenda.
Their solution was to create a process for amending the Constitution, but make its requirements strict enough that an attempted change could only succeed if its public support was sufficiently widespread and committed, to discourage the Constitution from being altered for anything less than matters of significant national importance.
For the Left, that’s not good enough. Instead, they simply ignore its text, excusing their actions with thoughtless, halfhearted rationalizations when pressed, and use judicial activism to twist the Constitution’s words to suit their agendas. Operating under progressive assumptions about the nature of history and of government, leftists see the Founding Fathers’ thinking as inherently limited by the era in which they lived, meaning that only by understanding the Constitution as a “living document” whose meaning changes with the times can we apply it to modern circumstances. They are the inheritors of Wilson’s understanding of our founding creed:
The Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions of our day. It is of no consequence to us unless we can translate its general terms into examples of the present day and substitute them in some vital way for the examples it itself gives, so concrete, so intimately involved in the circumstances of the day in which it was conceived and written. It is an eminently practical document, meant for the use of practical men; not a thesis for philosophers, but a whip for tyrants; not a theory for government, but a program of action. Unless we can translate it into the questions of our own day, we are not worthy of it, we are not the sons of the sires who acted in response to its challenge.
Compare that to Thomas Jefferson’s view:
In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.
Since modern liberals see themselves as the masters of the Constitution rather than its servants, it almost goes without saying that they also disregard this part of it, too:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution […]