“Let’s have a new Constitution”

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IN HIS EXCELLENT LITTLE BOOK The Constitution And You Barbados, retired High Court judge LeRoy Inniss makes this penetrating point: “Knowledge of the Constitution is the citizen’s first defence against arbitrary or illegal state action.”

Justice Inniss, however, also concedes that since the Constitution is written in technical language, many people have come to believe that it is of interest only to scholars, lawyers and judges.

For several years this inquirer has been suggesting – as did Thomas Jefferson, 220 years earlier – that a new Constitution should be written to coincide with every generation – around every 25 years or so.

As a legal non-entity, but someone with an interest in language and communication, I find it awkward that there are still scores of references in the Constitution to the Governor General and the Prime Minister as “he” and “him”, even though we’ve now had two gracious ladies (one since 1990) as representative of the Head of State and one as Head of Government.

An amendment here and an amendment there will not adequately address the anomalies that are sure to arise as we move on in this new millennium.

The learned retired judge also says in his 77-page book: “The Constitution is only a document; it is the persons in control of the affairs of the country who have the opportunity and the power to ensure that it works.”

M’lud, may I add: “And the people, too!”

Recent aberrations make it all the more urgent that every citizen should acquire a copy of The Constitution And You Barbados. And read it.

– CARL MOORE