Did the US Constitution have a deadline?

If there was, I must have missed this little bit of History. It just seems odd that the Iraqi’s have a deadline for their Constitution. Ever see what the homework of a procrastinator looks like when trying to meet a deadline? The same with business deadlines on projects. Everything is always screwed up when rushed. Personally, I don’t think deadlines are good for Constitutions. Of course amendments can fix things down the road, but why rush it (aside from the get our troops home stuff)? What ever happened to ‘Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance’?

If you’re talking about the U.S. Constitution, there wasn’t a deadline for its passage. Just needed nine states to get passed. Effectively, if the big states all stayed away, it wouldn’t have passed. But they didn’t.

What happens if Iraq misses the deadline? Do they get a 0 for the day? Or do they just copy someone else’s constitution 5 minutes beforehand?

Happily, a reporter asked Our Fearless Leader[sup]TM[/sup] that very question just last week:

And if that doesn’t clear it right up, nothing will.

It sounds like they just need to make a few big decisions, like it says in the quote. And yeah, you need to set a deadline for the decisions, or else they’ll bicker over them forever.

The United States didn’t have a deadline for either of our attempts at constitution making, and probably could have used one the first time around. The Articles of Confederation required 16 months to draft and 40 months to ratify. They might have gone unratified forever had not the French, who were effectively funding the Revolutionary War, insisted on having a functioning federal government with which to deal.

The second time around, things went a little more smoothly. Our current Constitution required only 4 months to draft and 9 months for ratification by the necessary nine states, although bringing the final holdouts (North Carolina and Rhode Island) on board required an additional two years.

Of course we had the advantage of already having functioning state governments, above which we were superimposing a national government of very limited powers–a situation which does not obtain in Iraq.

If the US had been occupied by thugs in 1789, perhaps it would have faced a deadline.

Moving thread from IMHO to Great Debates.

Should constitutions should have deadlines? Absolutely not. The US Constitution was a work of genius. Truly one of the great works of human history. Anything that you intend to last forever, you can’t rush. It takes however long it takes. Iraq would be far better off with a constitution that would truly lead to a stable government and have it be three years late than put something out to make a foreign imposed deadline and wind up in civil war.

If they miss the deadline (which they have), the National Assembly must be dissolved, and new elections held, as described in Article 61 f the Transitional Constitution (TIL); UNLESS the assembly votes by a 3/4 majority to amend that constitution and give themselves some extra time. According to the BBC, that’s exactly what happened:

For a distressing analysis of why that happened, see The Christian Science Monitor’s article: Deep divisions remaining, Iraq’s constitution delayed.

In this sense the US constitution was a failure, they ignored and skimed over resolving serious problems (slavery and federalism) that eventually did lead to a bloody civil war. Hopefully the Iraqi’s constitution will be more successful.

I think that’s a bit harsh. We can’t judge 18th century morality by21st century standards. The Founding Fathers had the wisdom to allow for amendments to correct oversights and changing culture.

I’m not calling the US constitution a failue because it was immoral (by any century’s standard) but because it operationally failed to do what it set out to do, unite the seperate states under a federal gov’t. Instead it ignored one of the main issues dividing the states, which over the succeding decades was to lead to largest conflict ever on the continent.

All the bells and whistles like a representitve gov’t, checks and balances, the ability to make amendments etc. etc. and the like are all nice, but they weren’t the primary goal of the founders. The goal was to create a unified federal state on the continent, and while this succeded in the short term, in the long term it failed.

Then what are we living in today?

But the constitution wasn’t enough to get us here. It took the aforementioned civil war to “unite” us* If it takes an equivalently bloody civil war to re-unite Iraq a few decades down the line, will you think of their constitution as a success or failure?

My ultimate point is that I worry deadlines and other pressures increase the likleyhood that the Iraqi’s will gloss over contentious points just to get the constitution done, and that these unresolved issues will lead to bloodshed there just as slavery did here.

The US Constitution was drafted in the heat of summer in hot, musty building with no air conditioning and with all of the windows closed to preserve the secrecy of the deliberations. They didn’t need a deadline.

and with all of the windows closed to preserve the secrecy of the deliberations

My, how things have changed.

If the US Constitution was being drafted today, it would take forever. With TV, the Internet, and cell phones, the delegates would be so distracted, they would be still be stuck on the Preamble!

You should have seen The Daily Show today (well, yesterday, I guess. The 15th, in any case.)

Jon Stewart told the Iraqis that they could have an extra week, if they really needed it, but the best grade they could possibly get (the best!) was a B. The point being that arbitrary deadlines work better in schools than in new governments. 'Twas most amusing.

I think the founding fathers were very aware of the likely effects of slavery on the union.

If their constitution holds them together for 72 years, then they have a four year civil year, then it holds them together again for 140 years, I will view it as a resounding success, just as I view the U.S. Constituion.