John C. Calhoun, was one of North America’s first political theorists and he wrote about the inability of a constitution to limit government. He points out that no document, not even if written on a hallowed piece of parchment, has the inherent power to bind officials to read it correctly or follow its strictures. As time goes on it gets even weaker in this ability as language changes and governments build up their power.
In his A Disquisition on Government, Calhoun explains the problem:
A written constitution certainly has many and considerable advantages, but it is a great mistake to suppose that the mere insertion of provisions to restrict and limit the powers of the government, without investing those for whose protection they are inserted with the means of enforcing their observance, will be sufficient to prevent the major and dominant party from abusing its powers. Being the party…
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