Keeping a Healthy Constitution

It seems the U.S. Constitution is being discussed more often these days than ever before.  The news media and politicians are always eager to include a story about why an issue is relevant to the Constitution.  Have we all become experts on what some argue is the most talked about document on the planet?  When a young college student is faced with an alcohol related arrest, it is the proclamation “I know my rights!” we so often hear.  Yet, how many college age students have actually read the Constitution?  A few?  Many?  It is a whopping four pages long and who has the time?  Right?

In any area of law, or any career for that matter, it is important to have read the Constitution.  That inspired document that governs the greatest nation on Earth is simple enough to be understood by young and old alike.  Its main purpose is to protect those defining principles set forth in the first great statute, the Declaration of Independence, which secured our free government and consequent great prosperity.  As described by Abraham Lincoln in his
Fragment on the Constitution and Union, the Declaration of Independence’s expression of “Liberty to all” proved to be an “apple of gold” framed by a “picture of silver,” the Constitution.

Whether employed in government, business, education, or the law, to be successful citizens, we must begin with understanding the Constitution.  We must figure out who we are and decide if the concept of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” actually means something to us and our chosen career, or whether we are better suited for a life full of intolerance and discontent.  Learning to be a good citizen requires more than fixating on video games or watching Stephen Colbert and Bill O’Reilly to catch up on current affairs.  Being happy and successful requires knowing the underpinning of the society in which we live.  Aristotle opined that you must not be content believing others will know the debate, rather it is up to you and your vigorous analysis that makes democracy work.  Rather than just screaming “I know my rights,” read the Constitution and understand it. You and your career will be better off for it. As will mine.

Jeffrey T. Burdette 
Chief Regional Circuit Judge
Cumberland Region
Chief Judge 28th Judicial Circuit
(Judge Burdette is a member of the EKU Paralegal Program Advisory Board.)

Published on May 06, 2014