More than 200 years later, Constitution remains current

Virginia Berg

Virginia Berg

The parchment is thinner and the ink a little less bold, but the Constitution of the United States is still in use more than two centuries after it was written.On Sept. 17, the Constitution of the United States will celebrate its 222nd birthday. And while the year 1787 may seem like an eternity ago, the Constitution still affects the lives of U.S. citizens every day.For example, the first 10 amendments, collectively known as the Bill of Rights, cover everything from freedom of speech to freedom of the press and freedom of religion.The following are just a few of the things that citizens would not be able to do in this country without the help of the Bill of Rights:

Criticize the Government:The freedom of speech allowed in the first amendment allows citizens to say what they want about how the government is running and about how elected officials are doing their jobs. “Even though I don’t follow the government’s activities closely enough to fairly criticize them, I like that the opportunity is there,” said Erin Tommeraasen, a senior math major. Own a firearm:Without the second amendment, the ability of Americans to own firearms would be uncertain. “It is an essential American right, whether it is for protection or sporting activities or wildlife control,” said Kathryn Strandell, a psychology major from Springfield, Va.

Choose a faith:Another essential part of the first amendment is freedom of religion. “Religion is a completely personal choice, and I am glad that the Constitution allows us to choose or not choose our own faith,” said Rachael Body, a junior advertising major from Luverne, Minn.

As far as the nuts and bolts of the Constitution go, there are seven articles to the U.S. Constitution and 27 amendments. The 17 amendments outside the Bill of Rights also provide Americans’ rights, such as the ability to:

Vote:Everything from the voting rights of African Americans and women to adults 18 and over is protected by several amendments. “I thank the 19th amendment for allowing me to have a say in my government by giving me the right to vote,” said senior Kaitlynn Krack, an environmental management and biology major from Hayti, S.D.

Elect a Senator:Thanks to the 17th amendment, the people of each state are able to elect their own senators. Prior to this, they were appointed officials. “Our constitutional values give us the right to elect our own senators, so it is important to take advantage of that right,” said Katie Hill, a sophomore undeclared major from Spirit Lake, Iowa. Have a Drink:Although the 18th amendment started Prohibition, the 21st amendment repealed it and allowed alcohol to be legal once again. “I appreciate the fact that I can go out and have a drink after a rough week of work and school,” said Molly Peterson, a communication studies graduate student from Brookings.

Constitution Celebration

SDSU is hosting a talk entitled “Is the U.S. Constitution Still Relevant in the 21st Century?” to mark the 222nd birthday of the document. The talk will feature a panel of three local experts and will be given on Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. in the Briggs Library, Room 105.

For more information, check out the National Constitution Center’s coverage of Constitution Day at