Believers of various stripes often herald their chosen tome of knowledge (or set of intellectual precepts) as the source for morality, or, alternatively, a binding agreement of some sort that dictates punishments for assorted trespasses. Often, those believers will argue that absent such a set of principles, people would run around fucking dead koala-babies or some such (or at least, imply the same). The general rebuttal is usually something along the lines of "If I could prove God did not exist, what atrocity would you commit first?".
I think it is not untoward to say that the US Constitution, particularly with regard to the Bill of Rights and assorted other amendments, is a source of morality. Perhaps not necessarily for people, but certainly for governments, which, face it, are just large groups of people with guns and charisma. For the most part, it reports what the government permits itself to do by social agreement.
In practical terms, though, the Constitution is held as a binding resolution. Not only is it reporting what was agreed upon, but the assorted Powers That Be are held accountable to that document in a myriad of ways. But the question I would pose is "Is the Constitution necessary
There are those that would hold governments as being, at any given point in time, corrupt and rife with evil men intending evil deeds to profit only themselves. Certainly by the same token, we view corporations in a similar fashion. Yet, if I am being entirely honest with myself, I am forced to ask, "If it were not for the Constitution, what injustices would the government commit?".
Already I can imagine talking heads and screaming voices from either end of the spectrum bandying all manner of accusations about. If the government is made up of average people, and the average person would not commit assorted atrocities even absent a deity or sacred tome or mystical cosmic law of cause-and-effect, why is a Constitution necessary?
There are, of course, a few possible answers that come to mind, the first being that governments are not
made up of average people, but exceptional ones on both ends of the spectrum, and that in order to ameliorate constantly swinging pendulum of who is in power, we need a document that represents a common middle-ground. Perhaps that a flaw with ever giving any one person too much power... I dunno.
I suppose there's also a less rational but far more common argument that people as individuals are pretty nifty, but get enough of them together in a group and they're complete assholes.
To a larger extent, though, I think that the Constitution as a source of morality, whether for individuals or for governments, has the inherent acknowledgment that it might not be right or accurate, and may not apply to all times and all events. It is a living, and more importantly, evolving document, unlike most any form of religious text, to which adherents cling to their preferred translation and interpretation with a vehemence usually reserved for Jets fans.
What are your thoughts? Is the Constitution necessary, is a religious text necessary, and why? And perhaps more importantly, if the answers to those are different for you, why?