Donald Trump recently appeared to call for the termination "of the Constitution, on the basis of his claim that the 2020 presidential election results were fraudulent. (He later denied calling for the termination of the Constitution.)
It appears the majority of Republicans likely disagree with his idea of overturning the Constitution — or did before he floated the idea. A YouGov poll conducted in August, months before Trump’s post on Truth Social, found that 67% of Republicans believe the Constitution should not ever be changed in any way. Americans overall are split: 39% think the Constitution should ever be changed in any way; 39% say it should not.
While fully terminating the Constitution would be one method of changing the document, the Constitution has been modified more moderately throughout history through amendments. There have been 27 amendments to the Constitution since its adoption — including the initial Bill of Rights. Changing the Constitution in any capacity has created controversy since the document's adoption, however, with the last ratification happening 30 years ago.That hasn't stopped Republicans and Democrats in Congress from suggesting changes, though. There have been more than 11,000 proposed amendments since the Constitution was adopted; in the current session of Congress, Democrats have been slightly more likely than Republicans to introduce legislation proposing an amendment to the Constitution. The YouGov poll finds that Democrats (62%) are more supportive of the Constitution ever changing, compared to 17% of Republicans.
Across political parties, Americans generally do agree the founding fathers would be disappointed with how things are going in the country. Majorities of Republicans (83%) and Independents (63%) say this, along with 50% of Democrats.
Majorities of Americans believe each amendment in the Bill of Rights - the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution - is at least somewhat important.
While majorities across political parties believe each of the amendments are important, there are some key differences. Republicans (79%) are more than three times as likely as Democrats (23%) to say the right to bear arms is very important. Another 32% of Democrats and 14% of Republicans believe this right is somewhat important.
Republicans (60%) are also more likely than Democrats (35%) to say the Third Amendment, which prohibits the quartering of soldiers during peacetime without consent, is very important. There is also a slight gap on the topic of the Tenth Amendment, which declares that powers not granted by the Constitution are reserved to the states. Republicans (67%) are more likely than Independents (52%) and Democrats (41%) to see this right as very important.
The amendment Americans believe to be most important is the First Amendment, which codified freedoms of speech, peaceful assembly, and religion. Most Americans (57%) say this is the most important one. Democrats (63%) are slightly more likely than Independents (56%) and Republicans (50%) to say this.
Another 17% believe the Second Amendment, establishing the right to bear arms, is the most important one. Republicans (36%) are far more likely than Independents (14%) and Democrats (3%) to believe this is the most important amendment.
Although most Americans believe either the First or Second Amendments to be the most important, not everyone is in agreement on how they should be interpreted.
More than half (58%) of Americans say the First Amendment protects “the individual’s right to speak their mind, as long as they don’t break the law, become obscene, or threaten violence.” Democrats (68%) are more likely than Independents (58%) and Republicans (52%) to choose this definition.
However, 30% believe it protects “the individual’s right to speak their mind, no matter the consequence or views of others.” Republicans (37%) and Independents (29%) are more likely than Democrats (25%) to take this view.
Interpretations of the Second Amendment also differ slightly. While 59% of Americans think this amendment protects “an individual’s right to own and carry firearms,” 27% interpret it as protecting “the right to own and carry firearms only when serving an active role in the military.”
Democrats are split: 47% think the right to bear arms only applies to people serving an active role in the military, while 41% think this protects every individual’s right. Republicans overwhelmingly think the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own and carry firearms, at 82%.
Americans are divided on how the Constitution itself should be interpreted. While 41% think the Supreme Court should base its rulings on what the Constitution meant as it was originally written, 42% think rulings should be based on what the Constitution means in current times. Republicans (70%) are especially likely to believe the Constitution should be interpreted as it was originally written. A similar share of Democrats (68%) think rulings should be based on what the Constitution means in current times.
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This poll was conducted on August 11 - 15, 2022 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this poll.
Image: Getty (Mark Wilson)