The Constitution This Week: Immigration, veeps, and Myanmar
News headlines, politicians, and hot-button issues come and go, but one 225-year-old document continues to emerge in our conversations about our nation’s most important questions and challenges: the Constitution. The Constitution is a big buzzword for Election 2012, and more than ever, citizens, pundits, and politicians are turning to the Constitution for answers–and sometimes ammunition, as they try to prove the Constitution is on their side.
Here’s a brief look at the top constitutional news stories and commentaries from this week.
1. The Constitution and…Immigration
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments for Arizona v. United States, the challenge of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070.
The federal government is arguing that it has the last word in immigration law, and that Arizona overstepped its power. Supporters of the Arizona argue that the state was making a state law for a unique state problem not sufficiently addressed by the federal government.
2. The Constitution and…Veeps
As the Republican party has unofficially accepted Mitt Romney as its nominee, speculation has begun about his VP pick; the list of potentials includes popular rabble-rousers like Chris Christie and fresh-faced up-and-comers like Marco Rubio. Meanwhile, in the world of television, HBO launched a perfectly-timed new series, Veep, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the title character.
3. The Constitution and…Myanmar
Earlier this month, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), the southeast Asian country that has been under military rule for decades, held parliamentary elections. Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the opposition party she led, the National League for Democracy, swept the election.
This week, however, representatives of the National League for Democracy refused to take their newly won seats in parliament in protest of the phrasing of the lawmakers’ oath, which says they will “safeguard the constitution.” The party wants to change the constitution because it grants extensive powers to the military, and wants to replace the word “safeguard” to “respect.”
In the U.S. Constitution, the president and other federal officials promise to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.” Fortunately, that hasn’t prevented Americans from amending the Constitution. But in Myanmar, the war over words could threaten the fragile beginnings of democracy.
But wait, there’s more
Holly Munson is the Programs Coordinator for Public Engagement at the National Constitution Center.