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We recognize Constitution Day — September 17 — to celebrate more than just words on parchment. The Constitution represents a turn in human history away from authoritarianism and toward individual rights and duties enshrined in legal systems that govern all citizens equally, from the highborn or the elite to the poor or the ordinary.
No person is above the law. All are bound by it, and transgressions against it are transgressions against family, friends, neighbors, and society writ large.
The Constitution, if it is a symbol, stands for the proposition that every human being within its jurisdiction enjoys rights that the government exists to defend, and against which the government may not transgress. This is a beautiful, powerful concept, one that has the power to unite disparate peoples in pursuit of better lives for themselves and their posterity.
Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out that dictators and banana republics operate under constitutions too. He claimed that the Soviet Union’s bill of rights was “wonderful” and, in its wording, “better than ours.” Yet those constitutions failed or are failing. Why? What has made citizens