Craig A. Stern

Document Type



Whether the Constitution works depends upon the purpose of its working. Discerning that purpose, however, has resisted consensus. Consequently, this article suggests a roundabout way to supply at least a tentative answer to the question whether the Constitution works. The Founders believed that the Constitution, like any republican form of government, would work only for a moral and religious people. They framed and adopted the Constitution in that belief. John Adams warned that without morality and religion, the passions of the people “would break the strongest cords of our Constitution.” A glance at how some cords have fared with a people very likely less than moral and religious in the standards of the Founders has supplied some evidence that, more generally, the Constitution does not work. The Constitution, broadly, may not be suited to the people it governs. If so, whatever convenient ends it may produce, it nevertheless does not work.