Thank you for a brilliant article on the relevance of the Constitution for modern times [One Document, Under Siege, July 4]. I read it a second time, substituting the word Bible for Constitution, and it was a liberating religious experience. Could TIME publish a similar article about the Bible, a 2,000-plus-year-old document?
The Rev. Paul Veliyathil, CORAL SPRINGS, FLA., U.S
TIME's cover photo of the partial shredding of the U.S. Constitution is disgraceful, distasteful and protected by the very document you shred. Thankfully, the Constitution will survive a dumb cover photo by your magazine.
Fred Walker, PHILADELPHIA
While I enjoyed Stengel's exploration of constitutional issues in the public eye, the real constitutional story lies in Supreme Court decisions that expand corporate influence while insulating corporations from public and governmental attempts to restrain abuses. Those decisions pave the way toward a society of inequality, in which elections are merely window dressing for the control of government by moneyed interests. The Constitution will survive disputes over war powers, debt, health care and immigration, but unless voters regain some influence over the electoral process, our democracy will become a sham.
Jim Lovell, SEATTLE
How does a renowned journalist, author, documentarian and Constitution scholar justify using Obamacare, which has essentially become an epithet? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is one of the most vital pieces of progressive legislation in about a century. In an otherwise balanced discussion of the beloved (albeit often misquoted and sometimes maligned) Constitution, the insouciant inclusion of this inflammatory term was distracting, disappointing and infuriating.
John Gambardella, CUNDLETOWN, AUSTRALIA
There is one serious shortcoming in
Stengel's appreciation of the U.S. Constitution. He does not mention the impact of the signing statement, which gives the Chief Executive more leverage in the legal process than the framers would have thought acceptable. The very system of checks and balances is threatened by it; Presidents could become kings in their own right if this practice is not stopped by Congress soon.
Arnold R. Pritz, SALZBURG, AUSTRIA
Stengel says the framers "gave us the idea that a black person was three-fifths of a human being." The three-fifths compromise was indeed a perverse one, but Stengel's misleading phrase perpetuates a popular misconception: that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention negotiated an agreement to declare those of African descent to be inferior to whites by 40%. The admittedly obscene three-fifths fraction was an arbitrary number meant to indicate not the relative value of slaves but the extent to which the whites who owned them would be rewarded with additional political power. Thus it was those who treated black people as less than human who were pushing the number upward and those whose heirs would help free them who tried to reduce it. Stengel's phrasing implies the opposite.
Glen Jordan Spangler, LAUREL, MD., U.S.
Stengel felt compelled to state the obvious: that the framers of the U.S. Constitution were not gods. Ironically, however, as with the Koran, Torah and Bible, our Constitution has so many interpretations as to make its essence more a matter of faith than fact. So better does it provide a continuous guiding light to our liberties as well as to its own preservation.
Craig M. Miller, LAKEWOOD, OHIO, U.S.
More Instructions, Please
The simulation of towing icebergs from Greenland to drought-stricken areas shows some but not all of the technical problems associated with this concept [Just Thaw and Serve, July 4]. For instance: Will it be possible to tow at greater speed than 1 knot? This seems to be quite marginal; any event could bring the assembly to a standstill. And how will the iceberg be slowed down when it arrives at the point of delivery? Where and how will the iceberg be "parked" upon arrival at the delivery point? How long does it take to thaw under varying weather conditions? Where is the fresh water being stored, given the different supply-and-demand patterns?
John van Schagen, PERTH, AUSTRALIA
The Wright Stuff
Frank Lloyd Wright was neitheR "crazy" nor a "womanizer" as Belinda Luscombe said in her interview with architect Renzo Piano [10 Questions, July 4]. After a 22-year marriage to first wife Catherine, Wright was married to his second love, Mamah Cheney, until her murder. He remained with his final companion, Olgivanna, for over 30 years. Though he was very pleased with himself, as most architects are, no one who knew him or wrote about him has ever said he was crazy.
Jean-Louis Lonné, MÉRY-SUR-OISE, FRANCE