THE CONSTITUTION AT 200
America salutes the charter by which it lives
As fireworks bathe Independence Hall in a Bicentennial burst of glory, Americans feel a reverential glow. The framers' words, painstakingly inscribed on four sheets of parchment, have the aura of the sacred about them. The Ark of America, it is a civic icon that is worshiped, if not always read. But the Constitution has its other, mundane life down at sea level, where wants and ideals crash into one another. Every year the U.S. reinvents the meaning of the document. In this special issue TIME organizes its usual...