Is it possible to achieve a delicate balance between national power and local diversity?
How should judges read the Constitution?
What is the role of the Supreme Court in the protection of civil liberties?
What makes the Constitution dynamic and durable?
Do we need a constitutional convention to resolve current political problems?
Weighty questions? Indeed. They are posed by some of the nation's leading scholars, historians, lawyers, and politicians, who term them ''top priority'' as the United States approaches its constitutional bicentennial in 1987.
In connection with its new ''Project '87'' program, the American Political Science Association is trying to identify the key constitutional issues facing the country by surveying national leaders in law, business, academia, journalism and other professions. Preliminary results, shared exclusively with The Christian Science Monitor, indicate these areas of prime concern:
* Federalism--the present split of power between state and federal governments and prospects for changing the degree of power-sharing.
* Judicial power--its rapid expansion and eventual limits.
* Constitutional rights, civil rights, and civil liberties--including privacy questions; the media and the First Amendment; and role of the Supreme Court in protection of liberties.
* The executive power of the presidency, and how it evolved. In addition, the president's role in foreign policy.
Other topics frequently mentioned: separation of powers between the branches of government; the viability of a constitutional convention; the relationship between liberty and equality; restraints on governmental power; and relations between church and state.
During the next several years ''Project '87'' will sponsor conferences, seminars, and lectures on the Constitution; develop media materials and a sourcebook for school study; and coordinate museum exhibits and community-based programs.
Two distinguished constitutional scholars, Prof. Richard B. Morris of Columbia University and Prof. James MacGregor Burns of Williams College, head a joint planning committee of APSA and the American Historical Association. Chief Justice Warren Burger is honorary chairman of the advisory board.