宪法如何作为“活的文件” 保持其有效性?(美國美中報道)

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在200多年后,美国宪法(U.S. Constitution)仍然在规定和限制美国政府的权力,并保证美国人民的权利。美国宪法,或者任何国家的宪法,如何能在这个日益变化的世界上保持有效性?宪法文本当年由乘坐马车前往制宪会议(Constitutional Convention)的男性起草,其中有些人甚至还拥有奴隶,今天为什么依然适用?

对于许多人来说,答案是:宪法是一个“活的文件”。除非予以特定的修正,宪法的文字不变,但法官、国会议员和公民对宪法文字的诠释是会变化的。国家宪法中心(National Constitution Center)可以让你了解宪法的发展、随时间而改变和适应新形势的过程。

若想了解更多内容,并进行一些额外的英语学习,你可以查看英文版的 “互动宪法”(Interactive Constitution)  (http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution) 。“互动宪法”将宪法文本和容易理解的著名学者的说明配合起来。有时,学者们会有不同意见。这对发展变化中的文件来说是正常的。

目前160多个国家有成文宪法。(其他国家有不成文宪法,在此情况下,习俗、惯例和法律先例起到相同的作用。)

在1987年美国宪法两百周年纪念之际,最高法院(Supreme Court)大法官瑟古德·马歇尔(Thurgood Marshall)警告说,不要让这个场合变成“仅仅是对现存放在国家档案馆保管库里的原始文件盲目的朝圣之旅。”

The U.S. Constitution is a living document and everyone can watch it evolve.

After 200-plus years, the U.S. Constitution still defines and limits the powers of American government and guarantees the rights of the American people. How can it, or any nation’s constitution, remain effective in a world that changes every day? How can words drafted by men who traveled to the Constitutional Convention in horse-drawn carriages and (some of whom) owned slaves remain relevant today?

For many, the answer is that a constitution is a “living document.” The words don’t change, unless specifically amended, but the way judges, lawmakers and citizens interpret them does. And the National Constitution Center lets you watch as the Constitution evolves, changes over time and adapts to new circumstances.

To learn more, and to get some additional English language practice, check out the English-language Interactive Constitution. (http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution)  It pairs the document text with explanations from leading scholars. Sometimes the scholars disagree. That happens with living documents.

Today more than 160 countries have written constitutions. (Others have unwritten ones, where customs, usage and legal precedent serve the same functions.)

At the U.S. Constitution’s bicentennial in 1987, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall warned against letting the occasion become “little more than a blind pilgrimage to the shrine of the original document now stored in a vault in the National Archives.”

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