This interview was conducted prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“Constitutions are just paper,” says law professor Richard Albert, “and you need more than the paper to create a stable country.” He believes any disconnect between a constitutional text and the reality of the lives of its citizens will inevitably lead to the decay of democracy. The growing number of electoral autocracies in the world suggests this trend might be spreading.
The U.S. Constitution, Albert says, “was wrong the day it was created.” It was designed to be amended, with one exception: it specifically protected the slave trade and made it immune to amendments for two decades. This shameful history, he believes, has affected every aspect of the Constitution and affects the lives of Americans to this day. Albert says it’s vitally important that we be able to amend the Constitution, but the process for doing so is broken. More than twelve thousand amendments have been proposed in Congress, and only twenty-seven have been ratified.