An otherwise well-written and informative piece from the New York Times on the new European Union Constitutional convention was marred by this swipe at the US Constitution:
The constitution also explicitly bans slavery (which the original United States Constitution did not) and the death penalty (which was never banned in the American Constitution).
Well, considering that the US constitution predates the EU constitution by well over 200 years, it is not surprising that slavery was omitted. Remember, slavery was still practiced in European colonies long after it was abolished in their home countries; slavery was legally practiced in the British Empire until 1843; in Brazil until 1888, and in Mauritania, a French colony, until 1905. In addition, while the British and French Empires banned slavery, they began regulating bonded servitude, which was essentially the same thing. This practice did not end in French Africa until 1947.
As to capital punishment, it has not been banned in the US constitution because the vast majority of Americans support it. Polls taken in Europe seem to indicate the same, although the political elites refuse to listen to their constituents on that issue, much as our media elites here refuse to accept that perhaps they might be wrong.
posted on June 14, 2003 06:43 PM