February 5, 2012
4 Proposed Amendments to the US Constitution
The Constitution of the United States of America was adopted in 1787. The first ten Amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, went into effect in 1791. Since then there have only been 17 Amendments to the Constitution (two of which canceled each other out, the 18th and 21st on Prohibition) for a total of 27 Amendments.
After a lifetime of consideration, there are four changes that I think are important enough that I would like to see the Constitution of the United States of America be amended to include.................
1. DIRECT ELECTION OF PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT
Eliminate the electoral college. The United States has only one nationwide election. That election is for President and Vice-President. (Congressional elections are local/state elections for national office. You cannot vote in the election for Senator for any other state besides your own. You cannot vote for a Representative for any other district other than your district.) There is only one election where any and all registered voters can vote and that is the election for President and Vice-President.
Since the election for President and Vice-President is nationwide, one vote should equal one vote. A vote shouldn't count for more or less depending upon where the voter lives. A vote from someone living in Wyoming shouldn't be worth almost 4 times the vote of someone living in Texas. (If you're from Texas do you believe it takes four Texans to equal one Wyomingite? (Actual ratio is 3.72 to 1.)) I believe that's un-American. All votes should be equal.
Click here to see a table showing how much your vote counts relative to votes from other states.
2. TERM LIMITS FOR CONGRESS
There's a saying, "Politicians go to DC to do GOOD and end up doing WELL (for themselves) then want stay forever."
Congress and the power that it brings seems to have a corrupting influence the longer someone is there. And the reality is that it is extremely difficult to remove an incumbent from office. So I support the following...........
Meaning, after this goes into effect, a person should have a maximum of 15 years service in the Senate or 13 years service in the House of Representatives. Considering that many Senators were Representatives, someone could serve in Congress for as much as 28 years, that is long enough. That's an entire career.
3. RETENTION VOTE FOR ALL FEDERAL JUDGES
The only branch of Federal government in which the citizens of the United States have no say is the Judicial branch. "We the People" have no voice in the appointment or confirmation of any Federal judge. The most we have is an indirect voice: We elect the people who get to do the appointing and confirming. I don't think those people listen very well. Or maybe they listen, but it just goes in one ear and out the other while somehow avoiding their brains. I am profoundly unhappy with the job these people are doing, and based on the national polls, I am not alone. So I think "We the People" should have a very loud and direct voice in the justice system of our Federal government.
Here in Florida, although we don't have a say in choosing judges, we have a say on whether judges get to stay in office. It's a simple "Yes" or "No" vote on whether to retain a judge. It appears on the ballot as "Shall Judge X of the Y Court be retained in office?"
Note: There are approximately 3600 federal judges. There are 94 Federal judicial districts. Thirty-four judges have nationwide jurisdiction (Supreme Court (9), the Court of International Trade (9), the United States Court of Federal Claims (16)). The 179 judges on the Court of Appeals Circuit Courts are divided in 12 districts. I could not find a breakdown for the rest of the 3600 federal judges. But if they're divided equally among the 94 judicial districts, that would give about 30 judges per ballot every General Election.
The 3600 Federal judges are divided between Article III judges who have lifetime appointments and Article I judges who are appointed for a specific term and can be reappointed (appointments to the US Court of Federal Claims are 15 year terms). Technically the Article I judges are not part of the Judicial Branch as Article I of the Constitution is the Legislative Branch while Article III of the Constitution is the Judicial Branch. "We the People" have no say in the appointment of Article I judges just as we have no say in the appointment of Article III judges.
4. NO LAW CAN CONTRADICT THE TEXT OF THE CONSTITUTION
The Constitution is the basis of all the laws and powers of the Federal government.
It even says in the Constitution that "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
So you can imagine my astonishment that through my entire life the Constitution can plainly say something, yet Congress passes laws, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court which clearly contravene what the Constitution actually says. Laws are supposed to be in pursuance of the Constitution.........not in contradiction of it.
This is an amendment which we shouldn't ought to need. But over two hundred years of government prove that we do. I can still remember my shocked reaction in school when I learned that our second President, John Adams, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 specifically the Sedition Act which trampled all over the First Amendment and our clearly stated right to free speech and a free press. And the need for it goes right up to today with our latest President, Barack Obama, signing the National Defense Authorization Act allowing the indefinite detainment of American citizens without trial.
Hence, the need for this..............
If this Amendment was ratified, what would it mean?
In the Constitution only Congress has the power to write laws. Not the President. The President doesn't have any power to write laws. The President can only approve or veto bills sent by Congress. The President is the head of the military; he can make treaties, appoint ambassadors and judges, run his departments, and has assorted other powers granted by the Constitution.★ But that the President can just write some executive order and it's a law we all have to follow..............not in the Constitution. Go ahead; search the Constitution for the term "executive order;" it's not in there. Executive orders are supposed to be orders from the executive (the President) to people who work for him. Of course, the President can give orders to people who work for him. Working for someone is the definition of who you get to order around. Those people have to follow the order. I don't work for the President.............not in any way, shape or form. Most Americans don't. Meaning unless it's an executive order telling us to follow a law that came from Congress, the President doesn't have any power in the Constitution to order us around. And the concept of writing an executive order telling people to follow a law strikes me as redundant and a waste of time. If it's a law, we already have to follow it or face the consequences if we're caught breaking it.
But here's an important distinction: Even though the President can give orders, he still cannot write laws. Under the Constitution, all laws must originate from Congress. Hence, there's no way an order from the President can be a law or have the same power & authority as a law.
Even Congress has limits on the laws it can make. And Congress is specifically enjoined from suspending habeas corpus unless "in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it" and the United States isn't rebelling or being invaded. (The only foreign army in my neighborhood is the Middle Eastern military here for training at the Navy base.)
In addition to habeas corpus only being suspended under very specific and limited circumstance, the Constitution also specifically states "nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" and "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial."
Which leads me to the following...................................
No "indefinite detention," no rounding people up and putting them in concentration camps (even if you don't like what country they or their ancestors were born in), no holding people for contempt of court or as "material witnesses" for months or years. Either you're free to leave or you're in the custody of the government. If someone is in custody, then they're entitled to habeas corpus, due process and trial as guaranteed by the Constitution. No law passed by Congress, no executive order signed by the President could change that. If you want to be able to lock people up without those rights, you'll have at amend the Constitution to allow it.
Another hot topic area where current laws contravene the explicit and plain wording of the Constitution is gun control law. The Constitution does not say "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be unreasonably infringed." The Constitution says "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." And all those gun laws are, without a doubt, infringing........whether reasonable or unreasonable.
Ask me personally and I'll say that I think the right of certain people to keep and bear arms should be infringed. I'm not in favor of violent felons and crazy people having guns. (However, I haven't noticed that our gun laws are actually effective at keeping guns out of the hands of these people. The only practical use for the current laws is giving the judicial system something to prosecute them for after they're caught with a gun they're not supposed to have.) So I do believe the right to bear arms should be (reasonably) infringed.............it just should be infringed within the Constitution. Again, if the government wanted to infringe on our Constitutional right to bear arms, the Constitution would need to be amended to allow that.
This Amendment would mean our government would actually have to follow what the Constitution says. A radical concept. And a concept the people who run the government would hate with a passion; even though it's a concept given lip service by Presidents, Senators, Representatives and Judges. But it's only given lip service. If they actually had to follow what the Constitution says................I can already hear the arguing as they twist words and pervert meanings (what the word "is" is).
★These are the sections of the Constitution dealing with powers of the President. This is the entirety of the powers which the President is granted by the Constitution. It's actually not very much.
Article I - The Legislative Branch
Section 7 - Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential Veto
All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
Article II - The Executive Branch
Section 2 - Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
Section 3 - State of the Union, Convening Congress
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
If you've never done it, read the Constitution for yourself. It's an eye opener on just how limited the powers of the Federal government are.
For more of my political opinion read "Social Insecurity," "Anchor Babies Away!" or "Why "Birthers" Are Idiots." Or for my take on the law read "15 Important Legal Points I've Learned from Watching "Law & Order"" Please take a moment to check-out the Archive.