On this date -- some 231 years ago in Philadelphia -- 39 delegates from the fledgling nation known as the United States of America came together to sign the final iteration of its Constitution.
Since then we have commemorated September 17th as a great marker in United States history. It is also a day to celebrate those who were born or have become naturalized U.S. citizens.
The Constitution is the foundation of our democracy. It is the oldest continual constitution in the world, an enduring document that has served as a roadmap to the freedoms that are guaranteed to all who call the United States home.
It is also the foundation for the ACLU of Texas’ guiding quest, to dare to create a more perfect union for all.
In celebration of this day and of the rights outlined in the Constitution, four ACLU of Texas staff members shared what they most appreciate about the Constitution and why it means so much to them.
“Voting is a fundamental right and critical to our democracy, and huge swaths of Americans have been denied this right for too long. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits denying the right to vote based on race, and the Nineteenth Amendment prohibits denying the right to vote on the basis of sex. We need these Amendments in order to protect inalienable voting rights and succeed as a democratic society. We also need to continue to be vigilant and fight back against renewed attempts to disenfranchise citizens.”
“My favorite amendment is the Thirteenth Amendment. This amendment made slavery illegal and was the start of hope for African American people. As an African American woman, I am filled with joy and gratitude for all those who came before me and demanded change so I could have a better life.”
“As a woman, an openly queer person, and someone who can trace my family’s migration path to the U.S. across three continents, the Equal Protection Clause is a powerful tool I wield to fight for my rights and the rights of others who are marginalized. The clause stops the government from denying any person the equal protection of our laws. Born out of the Fourteenth Amendment that first recognized the citizenship of those recently freed from slavery, many advocates, freedom-fighters and movements have used the clause to fight for their own rights and freedoms throughout our history, from the fight for desegregation to the fight for voting rights to the fight for women’s rights. I’m grateful to be part of the ACLU of Texas family where we fight every day to expand these rights to all Texans.”
“Along with each of our voices, our Constitution is a powerful tool that the people have to hold the government accountable for its actions. By “the people” I mean everyone in the United States, regardless of who you are, where you came from, or how you got here. The beauty of this document lies in the power it grants to individuals to keep the government at bay from intrusions into our lives and to assert the inalienable rights to liberty and justice that each one of us has. I’m proud to work daily to defend and protect our Constitution and the individual rights within it.”