Has the U.S. Constitution forced our government off course?

Dec 3, 2013

1789 Copy Of US Constitution Once Owned By George Washington To Be Auctioned

A copy of former President George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. ; Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Fights in the U.S. Senate over filibusters exploded into the nuclear option last month – when Democrats voted to change the threshold for passing political appointments from 60 votes to a simple majority. It was only the latest dispute in a hundreds-year old debate over the power and composition of the Senate.

Political pundits on both sides of the aisle argue Congress is broken, but some go further blaming the U.S. Constitution for Congress’ failures. In the latest “New Yorker,” legal writer Jeffrey Toobin speaks with conservatives and liberals about how the country’s founders envisioned the structure of our government.

“This [the Senate] has never been a democracy,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told Toobin. “This is a representative republic with heightened democratic principles.” That is one interpretation of many, which prompts the question of whether the Constitution is clear in its guidance on how best to run this country.

Does the current Senate serve its original role? If not, is debating the Constitution even an option?

Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of many books, including “The Oath: The Obama White House and The Supreme Court” (Anchor, 2013)

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