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(Slate)   The Constitution is impossible to amend, so we should amend the Constitution to make it possible to amend the Constitution   (slate.com) divider line 176
    More: Strange, U.S. Constitution, United States, Equal Rights Amendment, special case, Scalia, elites, enumerated powers, Justice Stevens  
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2151 clicks; posted to Politics » on 05 May 2014 at 11:27 PM (16 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-05-05 07:43:24 PM
2.bp.blogspot.com
 
2014-05-05 07:52:28 PM
By contrast, ordinary legislation requires the approval of a simple majority in each house.

The hell you say.
 
2014-05-05 07:53:23 PM
It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

You don't want to make ammendments as simple as a ballot measure like you do with states (who end up having hundreds of ammendments as a result).
 
2014-05-05 08:08:45 PM

Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

You don't want to make ammendments as simple as a ballot measure like you do with states (who end up having hundreds of ammendments as a result).


Louisiana has something like 2000
 
2014-05-05 08:14:29 PM

Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

You don't want to make ammendments as simple as a ballot measure like you do with states (who end up having hundreds of ammendments as a result).


Just think of all the dumb bullshiat that would be in there if it was easy to amend the Constitution.  There'd definitely be an amendment banning flag burning in there, for example.
 
2014-05-05 08:15:48 PM
The old coot is just mad that he can't ban guns.
 
2014-05-05 08:26:00 PM

Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.


Yeah, but having it possible for an Amendment to be blocked by only 2% of the US population? That seems a bit more than necessary.
 
2014-05-05 08:30:15 PM

abb3w: Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

Yeah, but having it possible for an Amendment to be blocked by only 2% of the US population? That seems a bit more than necessary.


I'd rather it be like this than have amendments be added and repealed depending on which party is in control.
 
2014-05-05 08:30:31 PM

jake_lex: Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

You don't want to make ammendments as simple as a ballot measure like you do with states (who end up having hundreds of ammendments as a result).

Just think of all the dumb bullshiat that would be in there if it was easy to amend the Constitution.  There'd definitely be an amendment banning flag burning in there, for example.


I have a copy of the constitution in my purse and at the end it shows all the failed constitutional ammendments including one banning divorce, declaring the USA a christian nation, renaming the country to "United states of the World" among some of them.

This concept of proposing dumb shiat to amend the constitution is not new.
 
2014-05-05 08:33:18 PM

abb3w: Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

Yeah, but having it possible for an Amendment to be blocked by only 2% of the US population? That seems a bit more than necessary.


What are you talking about?  It has to pass 2/3 vote in both houses of congress and ratified by 3/4 of all states (38 out of 50).  How is it blocked by 2% of the population?
 
2014-05-05 08:46:50 PM
i159.photobucket.com
"Then we could pass all sorts of crazy laws!!"
 
2014-05-05 08:56:34 PM

RedPhoenix122: I'd rather it be like this than have amendments be added and repealed depending on which party is in control.


I'm not so sure of that. The failure mode of either would seem to be a civil war.

Ambivalence: What are you talking about? It has to pass 2/3 vote in both houses of congress and ratified by 3/4 of all states (38 out of 50). How is it blocked by 2% of the population?


Which means it can be blocked, if in the 12 least populous states, 51% of the ratifying house of the legislature is each elected by a 51-49 obstructionist minority. Using Wikipedia data, it looks like Scalia's calculation is either dated, or he neglected a factor; those numbers suggest that would be about 1% -- and that's neglecting the differences between total, voting-eligible, and voting population.
 
2014-05-05 09:00:47 PM

abb3w: Ambivalence: What are you talking about? It has to pass 2/3 vote in both houses of congress and ratified by 3/4 of all states (38 out of 50). How is it blocked by 2% of the population?

Which means it can be blocked, if in the 12 least populous states, 51% of the ratifying house of the legislature is each elected by a 51-49 obstructionist minority. Using Wikipedia data, it looks like Scalia's calculation is either dated, or he neglected a factor; those numbers suggest that would be about 1% -- and that's neglecting the differences between total, voting-eligible, and voting population.


So it's hypothetical bullshiat.  Got it.

The entire purpose of it being so difficult is to ensure only the really important stuff that most everyone can agree on is what gets "enshrined" into the constitution.  Ending slavery, making sure all citizens can vote, stuff like that.  We already have one failed ammendment, we don't want a bunch more.
 
2014-05-05 09:19:39 PM

Ambivalence: So it's hypothetical bullshiat.


That overstates it a bit. Support for the ERA polls somewhere in the 90% vicinity, yet it failed.

Ambivalence: Ending slavery, making sure all citizens can vote, stuff like that


You did note the bit in TFA about the 13th through 15th?
 
2014-05-05 09:28:12 PM

BravadoGT: The old coot is just mad that he can't ban guns.


Of the six amendments he proposed I just knew that would be the one to rustle your jimmies.
 
2014-05-05 09:43:27 PM

abb3w: Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

Yeah, but having it possible for an Amendment to be blocked by only 2% of the US population? That seems a bit more than necessary.


You're right. Only unanimous votes should should be able to amend the constitution.

No more mistakes like the 18th.
 
2014-05-05 09:53:15 PM
I'm not even mad that guns are here to stay, or that we will always have the Electoral College. Just make it so that each representative in Congress represents x number of people (or as close to it as possible) without any caps on the number of people in Congress and the problem will fix itself.
 
2014-05-05 09:53:50 PM

Ambivalence: jake_lex: Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

You don't want to make ammendments as simple as a ballot measure like you do with states (who end up having hundreds of ammendments as a result).

Just think of all the dumb bullshiat that would be in there if it was easy to amend the Constitution.  There'd definitely be an amendment banning flag burning in there, for example.

I have a copy of the constitution in my purse and at the end it shows all the failed constitutional ammendments including one banning divorce, declaring the USA a christian nation, renaming the country to "United states of the World" among some of them.

This concept of proposing dumb shiat to amend the constitution is not new.


Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to eat for dinner.  The Amendment process should be difficult, only worthwhile amendments should get through.  We have a momentary deadlock between the two parties.  It will eventually break, we don't need to alter the bedrock of our Republic forever to overcome a temporary deadlock.  He has some good ideas, but some of them wouldn't necessarily require a constitutional amendment.  The bit about repealing the 2nd Amendment and making gun ownership a privilege is liberal pipe-dream bullshiat though.

Campaign finance reform doesn't go far enough.  Ban all lobbying.  The corporations.  The unions.  The advocacy groups.  Ban them all.  Make corruption a capitol crime.  Give us public financing and make election day a federal holiday.  And take re-districting away from the politicians, it should be left to cartographers and demographers (to make sure historically marginalized groups don't get "red-lined" inadvertently or directly).
 
2014-05-05 09:55:05 PM

Ambivalence: So it's hypothetical bullshiat.  Got it.

The entire purpose of it being so difficult is to ensure only the really important stuff that most everyone can agree on is what gets "enshrined" into the constitution.  Ending slavery, making sure all citizens can vote, stuff like that.  We already have one failed ammendment, we don't want a bunch more.


That, and sometimes a LOT of people have really bad ideas that go away after a short period of time.

Take 9/11, and the immediate aftermath.  You can totally pass the Patriot Act.  You can get a bunch of judges to collectively say "Hah, 4th Amendment, what 4th Amendment".  But you can't PASS an amendment that says "4th Amendment is BS".  And now it's 2014, and everyone's quietly pushing back against that stuff, and OH THANK GODS, there's still a 4th Amendment on the books.  Also some really terrible case law, but hey, case law can slowly be replaced.

/PS: It cuts both ways.  TR was pretty darn progressive.  And TR said, "I agree with you if you mean, as I suppose you do, that society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind." Aren't you really happy that it's *really* hard for the occasional overreach to be enshrined in the Constitution?
//Of course, Prohibition.
 
2014-05-05 10:03:09 PM

Ambivalence: abb3w: Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

Yeah, but having it possible for an Amendment to be blocked by only 2% of the US population? That seems a bit more than necessary.

What are you talking about?  It has to pass 2/3 vote in both houses of congress and ratified by 3/4 of all states (38 out of 50).  How is it blocked by 2% of the population?


fta According to the Legal Times, "[Scalia] once calculated what percentage of the population could prevent an amendment to the Constitution and found it was less than 2 percent. 'It ought to be hard, but not that hard,' Scalia said."
 
2014-05-05 10:05:13 PM

Notabunny: Ambivalence: abb3w: Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

Yeah, but having it possible for an Amendment to be blocked by only 2% of the US population? That seems a bit more than necessary.

What are you talking about?  It has to pass 2/3 vote in both houses of congress and ratified by 3/4 of all states (38 out of 50).  How is it blocked by 2% of the population?

fta According to the Legal Times, "[Scalia] once calculated what percentage of the population could prevent an amendment to the Constitution and found it was less than 2 percent. 'It ought to be hard, but not that hard,' Scalia said."


Pros outweigh the cons tremendously

The protection of our constitution from passing stupid amendments is important
 
2014-05-05 10:06:08 PM

fusillade762: By contrast, ordinary legislation requires the approval of a simple majority in each house.

The hell you say.


Yes, that's why the gun legislation failed 54 in favor to 47 opposed...because it's democracy.

With 90 percent of the population in favor of it.

Cause you know, it's simple.

Hint AN ADMENDMENT should never be easy to pass.
 
2014-05-05 10:07:38 PM

Ambivalence: jake_lex: Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

You don't want to make ammendments as simple as a ballot measure like you do with states (who end up having hundreds of ammendments as a result).

Just think of all the dumb bullshiat that would be in there if it was easy to amend the Constitution.  There'd definitely be an amendment banning flag burning in there, for example.

I have a copy of the constitution in my purse and at the end it shows all the failed constitutional ammendments including one banning divorce, declaring the USA a christian nation, renaming the country to "United states of the World" among some of them.

This concept of proposing dumb shiat to amend the constitution is not new.


Christ, it's true...

Women carry EVERYTHING in their purse.
 
2014-05-05 10:08:16 PM

cman: Notabunny: Ambivalence: abb3w: Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.

Yeah, but having it possible for an Amendment to be blocked by only 2% of the US population? That seems a bit more than necessary.

What are you talking about?  It has to pass 2/3 vote in both houses of congress and ratified by 3/4 of all states (38 out of 50).  How is it blocked by 2% of the population?

fta According to the Legal Times, "[Scalia] once calculated what percentage of the population could prevent an amendment to the Constitution and found it was less than 2 percent. 'It ought to be hard, but not that hard,' Scalia said."

Pros outweigh the cons tremendously

The protection of our constitution from passing stupid amendments is important


But at the risk of avoiding good and important amendments? I disagree. I think that if amendments prove to be stupid, they'll be repealed. If they prove to be worthwhile, they'll be embraced.
 
2014-05-05 10:13:57 PM

Notabunny: But at the risk of avoiding good and important amendments?


If they were so good, 2/3 of the legislature and 3/4 of the states would be able to agree with the president.

If this is not the case, perhaps they're not so good as you think.
 
2014-05-05 10:14:05 PM
A compromise might be to implement passing some laws by national ballot initiative (although that would probably be very messy, along with all the other problems I'm sure people will point out).  That way you would still be able to challenge the constitutionality of a law.

Obviously, yes, I do see the flaws and dangers of such a setup, but it certainly would be interesting to see if corporations would spend money canvassing for signatures (say, 10 million nationally, or requiring 3/4 of states to pass an initiative according to their ballot petition laws) instead of (or in addition to) buying Congressmen.

Of course, this might actually be harder than a Constitutional amendment to pass, since inevitably people would challenge the constitutionality of a potential law before it ever even made it to ballots.
 
2014-05-05 10:29:30 PM

doglover: Notabunny: But at the risk of avoiding good and important amendments?

If they were so good, 2/3 of the legislature and 3/4 of the states would be able to agree with the president.

If this is not the case, perhaps they're not so good as you think.


Maybe, maybe not. Likely, we'll never know what we've already missed out on, and what we're going to miss out on, because the hurdle is too high. There's an We can't get 2/3 and 3/4 to agree on anything, even if it's beneficial.
 
2014-05-05 10:32:07 PM
Like the lawmakers give a shiat what the constitution says.........
 
2014-05-05 10:39:10 PM

Notabunny: doglover: Notabunny: But at the risk of avoiding good and important amendments?

If they were so good, 2/3 of the legislature and 3/4 of the states would be able to agree with the president.

If this is not the case, perhaps they're not so good as you think.

Maybe, maybe not. Likely, we'll never know what we've already missed out on, and what we're going to miss out on, because the hurdle is too high. There's an We can't get 2/3 and 3/4 to agree on anything, even if it's beneficial.


There's such an obvious flip-side to that coin.  We'll also never know what bullets we've dodge because the hurdle is too high.  One Amendment in error in 230 years is a decent track record.  It was (relatively) quickly repealed.  The only repealed Amendment in our history was one that took away rights, yet one of the driving ideas behind this idea of making the Constitution easier to amend is for stronger gun control, to take away another right. As if the likes of Maryland, California, and New York don't already have enough punitive anti-gun measures.
 
2014-05-05 10:50:30 PM
While I agree that our constitution is rather impossible to amend, can anyone think of anything which would even pass as an amendment right now if you dropped the threshold to, say, 60%? I don't think the mechanical difficulty is the issue. We're just a polarized country.
 
2014-05-05 10:52:14 PM

Ambivalence: It's not impossible, it's just very difficult as it SHOULD BE.


THIS!
 
2014-05-05 10:54:45 PM

Fark It: There's such an obvious flip-side to that coin.  We'll also never know what bullets we've dodge because the hurdle is too high.


At last one comes to mind.  Had the author had his way, we'd be working on repealing the anti gay marriage amendment right now.
 
2014-05-05 10:57:14 PM

Notabunny: doglover: Notabunny: But at the risk of avoiding good and important amendments?

If they were so good, 2/3 of the legislature and 3/4 of the states would be able to agree with the president.

If this is not the case, perhaps they're not so good as you think.

Maybe, maybe not. Likely, we'll never know what we've already missed out on, and what we're going to miss out on, because the hurdle is too high. There's an We can't get 2/3 and 3/4 to agree on anything, even if it's beneficial.


Ah yes, all those amendments to band Jews, Irish, Chinee, Negros, Women, Gays, and other undesirables from ever holding public office, as God, Our Official White Male Protestant God, intended. Clearly we must lower the bar so the voice of the minority of Americans has more power over the majority.

It might sound like hyperbole, because it is, but it's not THAT far off the truth of what could have been at certain times in our nation's history.

www.realclearpolitics.com

Imagine if Woodrow Wilson had a little more power over the constitution...
 
2014-05-05 10:58:12 PM

doglover: If they were so good, 2/3 of the legislature and 3/4 of the states would be able to agree with the president.


The President actually has no role in the amendment process. All you need is the Senate, House and states to go along. President doesn't sign anything. Odd quirk
 
2014-05-05 11:00:19 PM

Darth_Lukecash: Christ, it's true...

Women carry EVERYTHING in their purse.


Actually, this is funny, last week I found a second copy of the constitution in my purse.  I have no idea why I had two.  I think they had free constitutions for "constitution day" at the college last year and I'd forgotten I already had one so I just picked one up from a table of them.
 
2014-05-05 11:08:53 PM

DamnYankees: doglover: If they were so good, 2/3 of the legislature and 3/4 of the states would be able to agree with the president.

The President actually has no role in the amendment process. All you need is the Senate, House and states to go along. President doesn't sign anything. Odd quirk


Yeah, but his party in those days....
 
2014-05-05 11:09:43 PM

doglover: Notabunny: doglover: Notabunny: But at the risk of avoiding good and important amendments?

If they were so good, 2/3 of the legislature and 3/4 of the states would be able to agree with the president.

If this is not the case, perhaps they're not so good as you think.

Maybe, maybe not. Likely, we'll never know what we've already missed out on, and what we're going to miss out on, because the hurdle is too high. There's an We can't get 2/3 and 3/4 to agree on anything, even if it's beneficial.

Ah yes, all those amendments to band Jews, Irish, Chinee, Negros, Women, Gays, and other undesirables from ever holding public office, as God, Our Official White Male Protestant God, intended. Clearly we must lower the bar so the voice of the minority of Americans has more power over the majority.

It might sound like hyperbole, because it is, but it's not THAT far off the truth of what could have been at certain times in our nation's history.

[www.realclearpolitics.com image 594x338]

Imagine if Woodrow Wilson had a little more power over the constitution...


There's a difference between lowering the bar enough to make amendments possible, and removing the bar altogether. Amending the Constitution to reflect modern times is a good idea. Fear and nostalgia aren't good reasons to anchor our country to a time that would be unrecognizable to almost anyone today.
 
2014-05-05 11:33:10 PM
This country is full of assholes. None of us should be trusted to change the Constitution. It might be flawed, but there is no reason the current crop of fools should be trusted to do better.
 
2014-05-05 11:33:55 PM

Notabunny: Fear and nostalgia aren't good reasons to anchor our country to a time that would be unrecognizable to almost anyone today.


They're also not good reasons to abandon perfectly sensible Amendments and adopt tacts that have been repeatedly proven through the crucible of history to be bad ideas.

We already have enough bad ideas with all the anti-people. Everyone in America wants to control all the other groups and enforce their own desires on them without logic or reason. It's despicable, even if their desires SEEM like good intentions.

I know you're talking about the second amendment. Read it again. It doesn't grant any rights to the people. It removes the power of congress to interrupt the inalienable rights of the people to keep and bear arms. Just because those arms are dangerous doesn't mean diddly or squat. Arms are supposed to be dangerous.

Now if we look at violence as a whole, it's on the decline in almost all areas except where poverty is increasing. This is because we're at an historic maximum in terms of security and lifestyle in most places. It's unprecedented. So most people who own guns, ESPECIALLY the big scary ones, don't even shoot animals for hunting, let alone other people. On the other hand, places in the throes of poverty and the War On DrugsTM tend to have rather high rates of violent crime regardless of the legality of it. Once you're trading in one form of contraband which will put you away for life, a few more types is as nothing. That's why Mexico, for all its gun laws, can't keep military weapons away from the cartels. And it's why every banger in Detroit might not have a roof over their head, but they can all lay hands on an illegal pistol. That has nothing to do with the Constitution, and amending away congress' restrictions just means we'll wind up like Great Britain where, if you've followed history, things have just gotten stupid.

The banned guns, criminals switched to swords and daggers, they banned those, criminals switched to kitchen knives, now they've been banning kitchen knives and making them with rounded tips and they won't even sell plastic ones to teens. I mean COME ON! Seriously. That's retarded and any barrier against such a decline of common sense is a good one.

Fads come and go and the public, while individually smart, as a whole makes titanically bad choices on a routine basis in every epoch. The constitution was made as it was for good reasons, and because feelings is exactly why we SHOULDN'T change that process. It's not immutable, it's never been immutable, and if you can't drum up support to change it, it's because you DON'T have 98% support.
 
2014-05-05 11:35:24 PM
FTA: "...John Paul Stevens argues for amending the Constitution to promote democracy and rights."

Ummm... Kelo v New London.
 
2014-05-05 11:38:03 PM
It's almost like all the countries with easily amended constitutions or equivalents have used it to codify horrible abuses and violations of civil rights in ways that make it difficult to reverse, and our system has reliably kept the core of the government to a set of relatively simple and comprehensible principles not prone to shifting with cultural fads, while leaving the bulk of the minutiae and things that are products of their times to statutory law (mostly).

Hrm.

// I swear every time I think I've read the dumbest shiat I'm ever going to see, Slate one-ups themselves again.  It's like they're actively trying to prove that Fox News is actually toward the 'more legitimate' end of the nutballs to sane spectrum.
 
2014-05-05 11:38:21 PM
Um....done in one.
 
2014-05-05 11:39:05 PM

Ennuipoet:


That's pretty much what I was going for.

/subby
//I agree with Scalia
 
2014-05-05 11:41:56 PM

Jim_Callahan: It's almost like all the countries with easily amended constitutions or equivalents have used it to codify horrible abuses and violations of civil rights in ways that make it difficult to reverse, and our system has reliably kept the core of the government to a set of relatively simple and comprehensible principles not prone to shifting with cultural fads, while leaving the bulk of the minutiae and things that are products of their times to statutory law (mostly).


The UK seems to be doing ok with a highly malleable system.
 
2014-05-05 11:46:04 PM

themindiswatching: I'm not even mad that guns are here to stay, or that we will always have the Electoral College. Just make it so that each representative in Congress represents x number of people (or as close to it as possible) without any caps on the number of people in Congress and the problem will fix itself.


Huh? Are you joking?

There's something called the "tyranny of the majority". Look it up.

If Congress worked the way you are proposing, all of the laws in our country would benefit New York, California, Florida, and Texas, and the rest of the states would be screwed (not that this isn't already the case in many ways).

It would be an absolute disaster. It would probably lead to civil war.
 
2014-05-05 11:46:05 PM
Yeah, somebody doesn't know the difference between a feature and a bug.
 
2014-05-05 11:46:38 PM

DamnYankees: Jim_Callahan: It's almost like all the countries with easily amended constitutions or equivalents have used it to codify horrible abuses and violations of civil rights in ways that make it difficult to reverse, and our system has reliably kept the core of the government to a set of relatively simple and comprehensible principles not prone to shifting with cultural fads, while leaving the bulk of the minutiae and things that are products of their times to statutory law (mostly).

The UK seems to be doing ok with a highly malleable system.


They don't actually have a written Constitution like we do either. It's bizarre. Almost like what matters is not a Constitution at all but people who uphold human rights.
 
2014-05-05 11:49:36 PM

buzzcut73: Yeah, somebody doesn't know the difference between a feature and a bug.


Its the ribbon bar of the US Constitution.
 
2014-05-05 11:49:57 PM

themindiswatching: I'm not even mad that guns are here to stay, or that we will always have the Electoral College. Just make it so that each representative in Congress represents x number of people (or as close to it as possible) without any caps on the number of people in Congress and the problem will fix itself.

Compromise: Representatives should be allocated based on the population of each State at last Census ÷ population of least populous State at last Census (currently Wyoming). Round to nearest integer.
 
2014-05-05 11:50:52 PM
It's not that it's difficult. It's just that there is no need to amend the Constitution because it was perfectly formulated to cover all possible scenarios by the Founding Fathers. All those European countries amending their constitutions all the time just proves the inferiority of those documents.
 
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