Constitutional FAQ Answer #149 – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

Constitutional FAQ Answer #149

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Q149. “What are some of the weaknesses of the

A. Of all the questions asked about the Constitution, this is actually one
of the most common — the most frequently asked. The problem with finding
an answer is that it is no simple question. If you asked an Anti-Federalist
what were some of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, they may not
have been able to come up with a single one, but we can come up with many, given our historical

That having been said, let’s discuss the weaknesses of the original
Constitution, unamended. First, it had no bill of rights. Bills of rights were
common in state constitutions at the time, but the Framers felt one to be
unnecessary and even dangerous to liberty. However, of all the arguments of the
Anti-Federalists, the lack of a bill of rights was one of the most compelling,
and the omission was quickly corrected. Second, the method of presidential
selection, with the first place candidate becoming president and the second
place candidate becoming Vice President, was flawed, mostly because the Framers
failed to foresee political parties. The flaws were spotted quickly, and fixed
with the 12th Amendment.

I consider the protection of slavery to be a major flaw. The Constitution
probably could not have been a success without some protections for this
infamous practice, but it didn’t really do anything to make things any better.
At the least, it could have mandated a phase-out of slavery over several

Some consider the vagueness of some constitutional provisions to be a flaw
— others consider that a feature. Regardless, there are places where the
Framers could have been more clear, but usually those are evident only in
hindsight. You can see what some others have felt are weaknesses by looking at
how some have wanted to replace or amend the Constitution.

Last Modified: 16 Aug 2010

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