Mark Judson: To form a more perfect union, read the Constitution

Published 8:45 am Wednesday, September 29, 2021

By Mark Judson

Friday, Sept. 17, was Constitution Day. You know, the day that Americans everywhere celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. Well, OK, maybe not all Americans celebrate this anniversary, but they should. Our Constitution is now 233 years old. While other governments have had constitutions, ours is generally recognized as being the first ever complete, written, and fully national constitution. It is one of the most revered documents in the world.

In his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey suggests that a personal mission statement should be like the U.S. Constitution. Covey says that our Constitution is “fundamentally changeless.” He notes that it is the document that the president swears to defend and support. He observes that it is “…the standard by which every law in our country is evaluated.” Covey believes that the Constitution has survived so long because it is based on “correct principles.” He credits the Constitution as the main reason our nation has survived huge challenges like the Civil War, Vietnam, and Watergate. Covey describes the Constitution as the “…key criterion by which everything else is evaluated and directed.”

This year, the SWLA Law Center celebrated Constitution Week in part by posting social media videos of some of its board members who explained their favorite constitutional amendment. For example, Cooper Fournet, an attorney in the Hoffoss DeVall Law Firm, claimed the Seventh Amendment, which gives American citizens the right to a trial by jury for civil matters. Fournet reasoned that if citizens did not have a right to a jury trial, then there would be no way to enforce all other rights that are guaranteed to Americans.

Vince Lupo, retired journalist for the American Press who covered the 14th Judicial Court and other courts for 35 years, naturally chose the First Amendment. He said that freedom of the press insured that the public knew what was happening in the courtroom and, in his estimation, helped to hold judges accountable in making good decisions.

Law Center Board Chair Keri Forbess-McCorquodale chose the 18th Amendment which repealed prohibition. While being a board chair over Mark Judson might drive anyone to drink, Forbess-McCorquodale said she liked this amendment because it got rid of a policy (prohibition) which was not working. Being a counselor and the owner of EAP Solutions, Forbess-McCorquodale went on to say that she is a proponent of changing things when they are not working.

The U.S. Constitution is working. There have been few changes. In its 233 years it has been amended only 26 times and that includes the first 10 amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights. The most recent amendment is the 26th, which reduced the voting age from 21 down to 18. It was ratified in 1971, some 50 years ago.

The Constitution has 4,500 or so words. It takes 30 minutes to read. In order to form a perfect union, do yourself a favor. Read the Constitution.

Mark M. Judson is executive director of the Southwest Louisiana Law Center, Inc. Contact him at 436-3308, or
mjudson@swla-law-center.com.