“It may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. … Every constitution, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years.”
Jefferson wrote this in a letter to James Madison in 1789, which kicked off a two-year correspondence about the Bill of Rights, according to the Constitutional Law Foundation. But what did he mean?
Translation: Legislation shouldn’t last forever. Jefferson asserts that it should be the current society making laws – not the previous generation.
Jefferson has been dead for 186 years, and still he manages to have a more modern view on this issue than many people in this country, and far bigger balls than our current leaders.