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The plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field on 9/11 was likely headed for the U.S. Capitol. Had it hit its intended target and disabled - not killed - multiple members of Congress, we wouldn't be able to look to the Constitution for answers on how to prevent the resulting chaos. It simply doesn't address it.
Our Founding Fathers couldn't foresee in the Eighteenth century the concept of using an airplane as a bomb in Twenty-first Century America. They couldn't foresee many things, such as how privacy would be challenged in high-tech surveillance or phones that hold personal data. Other omissions they likely left for future generations to decide, such as how to remove a president who exhibits mental instability. And some decisions, like the Electoral College, were compromises that today veer dangerously close to violating the Constitution.
The Fathers had good intentions. But, some think the Constitution lies at the root of the political dysfunction that threatens the democracy the document was written to protect.
Yet, we venerate the Constitution to a degree that prohibits a closer look. Is it time for a new Constitutional Convention - or at least an amendment to make it easier to amend?
- Akhil Reed Amar - Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University and the author of several books including The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era and America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By
- Sanford Levinson - Professor of Law and Government at the University of Texas, Austin and a visiting Professor of Law at Harvard; author of several books including, Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It) and more recently, An Argument Open To All: Reading the "Federalist" in the 21st Century
- Jeffrey Frank - Former senior editor and current contributor for The New Yorker and the author of several books including Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage. He is working on a book about the Truman era.
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on January 17, 2017.