Amend the Constitution? Not Happening

Amending the Constitution was meant to be hard, which is why it seldom happens

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The Republican presidential candidates love the Constitution, but if they have their way, you'll barely recognize it. Like a plastic surgeon meeting with a prospective patient, they see all sorts of ways it could be vastly improved.

Rick Santorum favors a constitutional ban on abortion. Mitt Romney has endorsed an amendment to require a balanced federal budget. Both support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

They are no match for Newt Gingrich. He not only favors a balanced-budget measure but has previously supported changes to limit congressional terms, outlaw flag-burning, promote prayer in public schools and deport mouthy ex-wives.

Ron Paul proposes to limit federal spending and taxes, as well as repealing the 16th Amendment (income tax) and the 17th Amendment (popular election of U.S. senators). Rick Perry had a different amendment for each day of the week.

Leave aside for the moment the wisdom of such revisions. The important thing to keep in mind is that none of these candidates, if elected, will bring any of them to pass. The chance is not small. The chance is zero.

The balanced-budget amendment has been around for some 40 years without getting anywhere. Likewise with the proposed abortion ban. It materialized after the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and is no closer to adoption today than it was then.

If there were sufficient support for a balanced budget to amend the Constitution, it would be superfluous, because Congress would take the steps needed to eliminate deficits. Amazingly enough, it did exactly that in the 1990s.

When it comes to abortion, on the other hand, Gallup has found a majority of Americans has consistently been against an amendment to forbid all abortions (except to save the mother's life). That hasn't changed, and there is no reason to think it will anytime in the foreseeable future.

When Gingrich became Speaker after the 1994 Republican takeover of the House, the GOP had a clear mandate for the term-limits amendment, which had been part of the "Contract with America" it rode to victory. It was a popular idea that had been adopted in 22 states, but the amendment fell short in the House.

The flag-burning amendment, a response to a Supreme Court decision ruling that desecration of Old Glory was protected by the First Amendment, attracted strong public support. But it failed repeatedly before fading away.

Amending the Constitution was meant to be hard, which is why it's happened only twice since 1968. Any president looking at this record of futility would find plenty of reasons not to try.

One is that he's highly unlikely to succeed, and presidents don't look for opportunities to lose. Getting a constitutional amendment requires mobilizing a strong national consensus on a particular issue. It requires persuading each house of Congress to muster a two-thirds vote in favor of a specific proposal. And it requires ratification by three-quarters of the states.

Even if the amendment had a plausible chance of passage, it would probably take longer to achieve than a president's tenure in office. He would use up a lot of precious time and political capital that could be devoted to more achievable goals, with more immediate rewards. All this would get in the way of pragmatic, incremental changes.

It may make sense for pro-life groups to hold out hope of a constitutional amendment, since they are in the fight for the long haul. It makes much less sense for a president, who will be gone in four years or eight.

In some cases, a proposed amendment would give members of Congress an excuse to put off serious legislative action. You can prove you're serious about the government debt by voting to raise taxes or cut spending. But that means antagonizing voters who would have to endure unwelcome sacrifices.

So why bother? It's much easier to demonstrate your fiscal conservatism by voting for a balanced-budget amendment—while opposing the actual fiscal changes it would require. Anti-abortion candidates can endorse an amendment without much risk, since pro-choice voters know it's not going to pass.

When a presidential candidate vows to amend the Constitution, he may be doing any number of things: dodging a tough issue, pandering to a bloc of voters or trying to sound bold. What he is not doing is telling the truth.

Steve Chapman blogs daily at newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/steve_chapman

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  1. It may make sense for pro-life groups to hold out hope of a constitutional amendment, since they are in the fight for the long haul.

    Substitute “the long haul” for “the bitter, losing end”. I understand the position of pro-lifers, as I used to be one, but I am now sick to death of them. They lost, and it’s time to move on.

    1. I think to understand their position is to understand why they won’t be moving on.

      1. I thought of that, but I would tell them to move on anyway. The hardcore ones would never give up, however.

        1. There is nothing wrong with not giving up, if the ban on alcohol was still around, would simply shrug your shoulders and say: “oh well its time to move on, this will never go away”.

          1. We could say that about anything. The problem with the pro-lifers is that their battle needs to be taken to the field of philosophy, because right now, most people don’t believe as they do, and even if they did, they are not prepared to deal with the practical implications. There is a reason why Andrew Napalitano sounds both totally logical and completely insane on the subject.

            1. The problem with the pro-lifers is that their battle needs to be taken to the field of philosophy…

              I don’t think that is the only factor. I visited China for about month a while ago, and once I felt the horrendous human crush of a coastal Chinese city, and smelled the stench of public toilets from MILES away, the idea of abortion for population control seems less and less abhorrent. Of course, the one-child policy definitely has had unintended consequences like all top-down government mandates. I still don’t really have an opinion on abortion in general (In case of rape, let the woman off that demon child), because there are more important things for us to give a shit about. Moreover, if one considers abortion murder, than it should be handled the same way as other murders. Specializing it puts it in another hyperbolic category like hate-crimes and the like which inevitably creates more pointless bureaucracies so people not fit to flip burgers can get paid more than they deserve to feel like they actually make a damned difference in a positive way.

              1. Moreover, if one considers abortion murder, than it should be handled the same way as other murders.

                The reason I get annoyed by anti-abortionists is because they really don’t feel this way (other than the hardest of the hardcore, like Eric Rudolph), and that is because of how uncomfortable they are with the implications of acting exactly the way they should act IF they believed such a thing.

                Anti-abortionists want to have their cake and eat it, too: they want to have all of the benefits of a society where abortion is legal (birth control pills, low crime, etc.) but whine about it anyway.

                1. Better give me my abortions o my kids gonna grow up to be gangstas!

                  Abortion = Low Crime

                  1. I never knew RBM was racist.

                    1. I never knew RBM was racist.

                      Still haven’t invested in a bulk-buy of Vagisil, I see.

                  2. Actually abortions peaked in 1981 and the most violent demographic is 18-21 year colds. Still crime rates have been dropping 30 years after abortion rates started dropping. Also liberal states have fewer children born out of wedlock, and lower rates of divorce as people in those states have sex later, marry later, and have children later.

                2. To be fair, at least some are opposed to birth control, too.

                  But, yeah, the anti-abortion position seems to be that the doctor is the murderer, and the actual mother who orders and pays for the murder should not be penalized.

                  1. Is a woman who is willing to kill her child before it is born fit to be a mother?

                    1. Wow. I like that argument. I’m going to use it in the future.

                    2. Is a woman who is willing to kill her child before it is born fit to be a mother?

                      That’s good question-begging right there.

                    3. Is a woman who is willing to kill her child before it is born fit to be a mother?

                      Kind of one of those academical questions, no? Seeing as she isn’t going to be a mother.

                    4. Seeing as she isn’t going to be a mother.

                      Not today.

                    5. No. Even years later.

              2. The “horrendous human crush” in China is no different than Japan or say NYC. The difference is those other places have modern plumbing and much of China doesn’t.

              3. Drax, hate to crap on your parade, but you’re a retard… I have no dog in this abortion fight, but plumbing and hygiene issues are not related to China’s ‘poopulation’.

                It’s a lack of cleanliness issue. Chinese toilets are horrible because the powers that be and those that let them stay in power, don’t care about clean smelling toilets. The Romans had toilets and clean water figured out, but that’s because they placed cultural significance on not smelling like shit, and then made it happen. Countries like China and Mexico have poopoo and peepee problems, because their culture tolerates it. They have all the technology to do it, but no incentive.

                Asia as a region, kind of gave up on toilet hygiene innovation around the 1200’s, since then any serious work has been done by the Americans and British (the Japanese renewed interest post WWII, but even today they have some nightmarish bathrooms). Even if they had only three people living in China, I guarantee the smell of the crapper would still be present at 500 yards. Another fun fact, they aren’t too big on the T.P. either.

  2. Chapman convinced me. There is NO way to amend the Constitution.

    1. what?

  3. When a presidential candidate vows to amend the Constitution, he may be doing any number of things: dodging a tough issue, pandering to a bloc of voters or trying to sound bold. What he is not doing is telling the truth.

    That’s why they should vow to try to amend the constitution. Weasel words help deflect being branded a liar. Unfortunately, too many people have seen Star Wars so for them it’s “Do or do not, there is no try” hence, the bloviating on the campaign trail to the brain-dead population.

  4. So my proposed amendment to force John and MNG to gay marry (w/ John forced to never take off the Suki costume) is doomed?

    1. (w/ John forced to never take off the Suki costume)

      Wait, which John? John or John T.?

      1. I hope that this confusion hasn’t bled out from the FF league.

  5. It’s hard to get an amendment to the Constitution passed, but it’s near impossible to get the president or Congress to vote themselves less power–even if the bill would be wildly popular during a crisis.

    No one proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit future presidents from using taxpayer funds to bail out investment banks; to the best of my knowledge, no one proposed a law that would prohibit future presidents from using taxpayer money to bail out investment banks either.

    There was plenty of regulation passed under the logic that it would supposedly make it harder for such banks to take risks that might lead to a bail out. Putting aside the question of whether we want banks to take less risks when we’re digging out way out of a recession, notice that the options where Congress’ and the presidents’ powers are limited were never seriously under consideration.

    Expecting politicians to vote themselves less power is like expecting them to vote to starve themselves to death. We shouldn’t bother looking to Congress or the president for change–through a constitutional amendment or otherwise.

    Taking our message straight to the people is our only hope. When we get enough of our fellow Americans’ heads’ screwed on properly, it should have a limiting effect on future Congresses’ and future presidents’ stupidity.

    In the meantime, libertarians looking to Congress or the president for positive change are absurd.

  6. The Federal Government does NOT obey the ‘existing’ Constitution.

    Why would they suddenly start obeying an ‘amended’ Constitution.

    Proponents of ANY constitutional amendment are totally ignorant of political reality.

    Ink-on-Paper does not restrain government.

    1. This is just ignorance and hyperbole squared.

      1. He’s right that government is limited, mostly, by what people think, certainly more so than by what’s written in the Constitution. If the president and Congress go by what’s written in the Constitution, it’s mostly just because so many people still reverence the Constitution–not because of the words written there.

        The reason we didn’t have internment camps during the worst of the heady days of the War on Terror wasn’t because of anything in the Constitution. It wasn’t out of the goodness in the Cheney Administration’s heart, either…

        The reason we didn’t have internment camps for Arabs and Muslims is because a critical mass of the American people wouldn’t have put up with it–I think they’d have done it if they could. And that’s just one example.

        1. He’s right that government is limited, mostly, by what people think, certainly more so than by what’s written in the Constitution. If the president and Congress go by what’s written in the Constitution, it’s mostly just because so many people still reverence the Constitution–not because of the words written there.

          Which is a far cry from declaring it a worthless “ink-and-paper” restraint. Not to be rude, Ken, but no shit a physical piece of paper is incapable of restraining an army. The philosophy embodied on that paper, along with a reverence for the Rule of Law, is, however.

          Saying that “the Feds do what they want so what difference does the Constitution make?” is ahistorical and insensitive nonsense: ask those people who were released from prison because of, or were prevented from being convicted due to, due process, for example.

          The whole law is nothing more than “words on paper”…so I guess the more hysterical among us say there is no difference between America and North Korea? That may fly at a Ron Paul rally or in Jeremiah Wright’s church, but it’s total bullshit.

          1. That may fly at a Ron Paul rally

            ————

            Fucktarded hyperbole is fucktarded.

            1. Look, don’t yell at me – I have actually heard this stuff at Ron Paul meetups. Go check out the comments at DailyPaul sometime.

              1. 1) You’ve heard people at Ron Paul “meet-ups” saying that there’s no difference between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea?

                http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hyperbole

                2) I’m a regular visitor at DailyPaul, and I’ve never seen anything like that anywhere on that website.

                You’re not a Romneyite, are you?

                1. You’ve heard people at Ron Paul “meet-ups” saying that there’s no difference between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea?

                  Is that really so hard to believe? When a certain segment of libertarians go on and on and on and ON about what an absolute Totalitarian Hellhole Police State we live in, some people are actually going to believe them, you know.

                  1. That’s because by the standards of (and I’m using these words with utmost care and consideration) liberty and justice, this country sucks on an exceptionally large number of fronts. We’re still the land of the mostly free, but mostly free fucking blows, and it’s nowhere near good enough. Understand that.

                    The fact that the rest of the world is much worse than us doesn’t mean shit, Rev. Being the freest doesn’t mean being free.

                    I’ve never heard any libertarian, ever, say anything nearly as retarded “DPRK = USA! POLIS ST8, LOOK OUT, THER IS FEDERALE OUTSID UR WINDOE”. You kind of moved the goalposts there.

                  2. That’s right Rev, the second anyone says America might be at fault for something, they are going on and on and on about “what an absolute Totalitarian Hellhole Police State we live in”.

                    If you want to get on people for spouting hyperbole, maybe you should take a good hard look in the mirror. Hypocrite.

              2. So Godesky trolls there too, huh?

          2. Which is a far cry from declaring it a worthless “ink-and-paper” restraint. Not to be rude, Ken, but no shit a physical piece of paper is incapable of restraining an army. The philosophy embodied on that paper, along with a reverence for the Rule of Law, is, however.

            Well then let’s not pretend that adding more text is about to solve anyone’s problems!

            Getting more people to revere the principles in the constitution is obviously more important than fiddling with the text.

            The other part of this I’m not sure you’re getting, which seems sort of “no shit” to me but may not be to you? Is that the president, Congress and the courts–it’s not their reverence that’s protecting our rights. It’s everyday average Americans in the street and what they think that’s important.

            Making our politicians more respectful of our rights and freedoms through manipulating text is probably a waste of time–certainly it is compared to persuading our fellow Americans to respect each other’s rights and freedoms.

            The politicians really will do more or less what the people want–it’s important not put the cart before the horse, there. And trying to make politicians do what we want by manipulating the text of the Constitution really does seem all ass backwards from where I’m standing.

    2. Unless you are a Constitutional scholar, like our president, you are in no way qualified to interpret complex legal terminology like “Congress shall make no law” or “shall not be infringed”.

      Only someone with a doctorate degree is capable of interpreting intricate and complex language like that.

      Leave it to the experts you rube.

      1. I think I said at some point that the language should be so simple that everyone is able to understand it. Fuck me.

        1. Yeah, but you were a rich white slave owner.
          Obviously that means you were wrong about everything, especially on the language of the Constitution being simple.
          So there!

  7. Wait, which John? John or John T.?

    My amendment would force every man named John to wear Japanese drag.

    1. My amendment would force every man named John to wear Japanese drag.

      I would support this for the lulz. Writing my congressmen now.

  8. Why amend the Constitution when the Commerce Clause gives the federal government unlimited power?

    1. Last I checked, the PPACA litigation has yet to be resolved.

      And, unless I am totally remiss in keeping up with constitutional law, neither U.S. v. Morrison or U.S. v. Lopez have been overturned.

      1. “general welfare… regulate commerce… necessary and proper”

        No limitations.

        1. Right, so I guess those rulings have been overturned and the PPACA litigation is all settled.

          See you at the FEMA camps, sarcasmic!

          1. Court rulings =/= preventative.

            1. Court rulings =/= preventative.

              The larger point is that if one is going to mew about the Constitution only being a piece of paper, then I really don’t want to hear “but…but…this is Unconstitutional!” or even “buh buh but this is illegal!”

              Well, what did you expect from a “mere piece of paper”?

              1. I agree. I’m not the one arguing that with you. I was just pointing something out.

                1. Fair enough. Thank you.

        2. What about the “good & plenty” clause? You need to start taking lessons on the constitution obviously!

          /sic

      2. the PPACA litigation has yet to be resolved.

        We all know how it’s gonna turn out though. I’m collecting recipes for all the broccoli I’ll be forced to buy.

        1. It’s only a matter of time before, in the name of curing preventable illness, disobeying your doctor’s orders becomes a criminal act.

          It will work too, because laws are magic.

          1. on the bright side, when that time comes, it will also be illegal for doctors to quit their jobs under penalty of death. yes, I said “bright side”.

  9. Rhode Island should secede and declare a Dreamy Kingdom of Dreams and Unicorns of Rhode Island and Providence and Other Beautiful Socialist Stuff Trollin’ Lolololol (DKDURIPOBSSTL).

    We should concentrate on individual states instead of trying to amend the US Constitution. Big states. Like Texas. Push the feds and see what happens.

    1. Try it. I dare you.

      1. Fuck you, Abe. You won the War Between the States — ain’t that enough for you, dude?

        1. His mission to ensure the continued survival of the Top Hat didn’t pan out quite the way he envisioned.

          TOP.HAT.

          1. Also failed to secure the future of monocles.

    2. No. Small states I tell you. 🙂

  10. “When a presidential candidate vows to amend the Constitution, he may be doing any number of things: dodging a tough issue, pandering to a bloc of voters or trying to sound bold. What he is not doing is telling the truth.”

    Once again Chapman brilliantly displays his ignorance through sophomoric platitudes that appear designed to affect an emotional knee jerk rather than prolonged critical analysis. Of course the Constitution is difficult to amend, and yet this Sisyphean feat has been accomplished many times. The graphic for this article alludes to two such amendments. Further, why, in your estimation, is someone either in agreement with your argument (which incidentally is weak and full of holes)or they are liars to be vilified? That harkens back to the ‘your either with us or against us’ “arguments” of the neoconservative movement. I do not necessarily endorse any of the amendments proposed above, yet to categorically lump all candidates and their supporters together through soundbites is something I reserve to the sensationalist media outlets not writers purportedly dedicated to a reasonable analysis of events.

  11. I especially liked the part about lumping the repeal of the two worst amendments with Rick Perry’s ideas. It was a great way to appeal to my emotion rather than make a logical argument.

    oh wait.

    1. The 16th and 17th MUST fucking GO. ASAP. Ram that fact through the conscious mind of every man, woman, and child.

      1. Not if we have anything to do with it.

      2. Meh, 17th isn’t as bad as 16th. I’m far more concerned about taxation than state representation.

        That said, states should *really* have a say in how the federal government runs, not the entire citizenry.

        1. Would there be unfunded mandates without the 17th?

          What about conditions on the return of federally collected taxes?

          Currently states are challenging Obummercare in court. Would it have even passed a Senate that represented the states?

          Would we have the federal debt we have today if it required approval from the states?

          I think the 17th is much more damaging than the 16th.

          1. Without the 17th Amendment, all of the laws would be exactly the same, because 99 of the 100 Senators would be exactly the same.

            The one guy who might not have won if the state party apparatus controlled the election instead of the people is that guy the TSA detained in Kentucky this morning.

            1. I’m not so sure of that, I’m from Nebraska and I can gaurantee that our Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (aka the 60th vote on Obamacare/Cornhusker Kickback guy) would have never been elected by our Republican Legislature.

              No Nelson, no Obamacare.

              1. No 19th, no Obama. The 19th must go.

        2. Would there be unfunded mandates without the 17th?

          What about conditions on the return of federally collected taxes?

          Currently states are challenging Obummercare in court. Would it have even passed a Senate that represented the states?

          Would we have the federal debt we have today if it required approval from the states?

          I think the 17th is much more damaging than the 16th.

          1. squirrels

          2. I just think you overestimate the integrity of state reps choosing senators over citizens.

            I don’t have such faith in politicians.

            1. I don’t have such faith in politicians.

              I have faith in self interest. Politicians want to be reelected.

              Currently a popularly elected Senator stays in office for forcing the state governments to do things they would not do on their own.

              A Senator chosen by the state legislature would not.

              It would be in the self interest of a Senator chosen by state legislatures to not go and do things that would cause the state legislatures to vote them out of office.

          3. I’m with sarcasmic. Popular election of senators broke a key piece of the balance of powers machine.

            1. Learn ’em good R C!

              I don’t understand these genitally challenged wind bags that naysay dropping the 17th over the 16th. Repeal both, at the same time, where’s the problem? If you start compromising off the bat, you’ll never get anything done. Fuck all you wimpy little bitches with a rusty bayonet on a ole’ timey musket.

              Their “realistic” expectations make for poor Constitutional fodder, this is lofty stuff about individual liberty. If you want something within reach, try scratching your tubby bellies… ya know, that useless fat bulge that prevents proper hygiene and genital manipulation. Then again, I imagine if you can’t jerk off proper, your aspirations are going to be limited.

      3. I’m not sure that repealing the 17th matters all that much. I’m pretty sure that most states would continue to have voters continue to pick Senators they same way (unless the amendment repealing the 17th has a section forbidding it, which I think unlikely).

        The damage is already done.

        1. Thanks Clown. Way to throw in the towel, you toothless, yellow bellied, sap sucking coward.

          Out of everything out there in the entire cosmos, fixing the Constitution seems pretty easy because all it requires is a little fortitude and conviction. In fact the blueprints are readily available to boot. But you’ve managed to argue yourself out of it in less than 60 words, then posted to attempt swaying others.

          I know you’re the star player on Team Quitter, but how about next time using your inside voice, champ?

  12. Constitution Smanshtitution

    1. What about me! Don’t I get credit for an assist?

      1. did you assist across state lines? oh wait, that doesn’t matter anymore.

        sorry, I guess there wasn’t actually a scenario where you’d get credit.

      2. more like general WARfare, amiright?

  13. The flag burning amendment is dead but now its Democrats turn to tamper with he first amendment.

  14. Why bother to pass an Amendment? It’s much easier to place a couple of ideological loyalists on the Supreme Court and then get them to amend by proclamation.

  15. It only takes a majority of Congress to balance the budget (well, maybe 3/5 of the Senate and 50.3 percent of the House). The balanced budget amendment would be much harder to pass than just balancing the budget every year. Backing the amendment is just an excuse to keep overspending right now.

  16. If there were sufficient support for a balanced budget to amend the Constitution, it would be superfluous, because Congress would take the steps needed to eliminate deficits. Amazingly enough, it did exactly that in the 1990s.

    But there may not be “sufficient support” in the future. The whole point of an amendment would be to force Congress to balance the budget even if general support for a balanced budget wanes. Obviously, if support wanes enough, the amendment might eventually be stricken, but we would have balanced budgets for awhile, at least.

    1. Why is does it have to be an amendment, though? Is it somehow unconstitutional for Congress to be mandated by some other means?

  17. They would have had the equal rights amendment, if the feminists at the top hadn’t realized they wouldn’t have been able to continue lobbying for special privileges, and quietly withdrew support.

  18. Here’s mine. What do you think?

    TOM BEEBE’S AMENDMENT

    (Commentary in {..}, not part of proposed Amendment}

    No candidate for the Presidency or either house of Congress shall accept contributions in cash or in kind from any organization or group of persons for expenses incurred in a campaign for that office. All such contributions shall be made only by individual citizens who shall attest that the funds or other items of value are from their own resources and that they have not received, nor have they been promised, offsetting items of value from any other party in exchange for their contribution. The identity and extent of contributors to such campaigns shall be made public for a period of thirty days from receipt before being employed or used as collateral for a loan by such campaigns. Organizations of any type, {i.e. corporations, unions, gun rights advocates, environmental protection groups, even “Susie’s Flower Shop”, a theoretical small business cited in the Citizen’s United Case,} may, without restriction, expend money to advocate a position on any issue before or likely to come before the electorate insofar as no candidate’s name or description is included in their expressions of advocacy.

    {The intent of the above is to bring “transparency” to campaign financing by removing any group from the process whereby that group may conceal the identity of an individual contributor as well as limiting the influence of such groups or “special interests”. It further prevents an organization from making such contributions when an individual within that organization, such as a union member or corporation stockholder, may oppose the candidate. Considering the large equity position in certain corporations that the federal government has recently taken in response to the economic crises, this is particularly important in excluding such influence. The money from “special interest” groups will then go to promote that for which they exist, their “special interest”. The media will be directed to expositions on the issues facing the electorate, thus enhancing discussion and hopefully understanding of issues, bereft of personalities.}

    1. The intent of the above is to restrict freedom of speech when citizens exercise their right to freedom of association.

      Anonymous contributions to public discourse have a long history. Read Federalists 1 through 85, for example.

      The proper solution to candidates giving favors in exchange for campaign contributions is not to limit the campaign contributions, but to limit the ability of candidates to offer favors. If Senator Douchebag won’t be in a position to give my corporation favorable treatment, my corporation will be unable to buy favors from him.

      1. The Federalist Papers were written anonymously, and therefore have no credibility in the Tom Beebe Universe.

  19. The founding fathers were brilliant in making the Constitution amendable (they clearly recognized there was no way they’d be able to predict the future of this country) but keeping it from being too terribly simple. As the fundamental core laws of our nation, we don’t need it being marked up with every whim of a Congress/administration that feels the need to do so.

    The Constitution has only been modified 27 times in its more than 200 year existence, and 10 of those came almost immediately in the form of the Bill of Rights. When you consider that one of the amendments was ratified to erase one of the other ones (how on earth did we get so stupid as to allow Prohibition to pass?), that means that only 15 amendments have been passed and still stand since the Bill of Rights in 1791. Sounds about like what the founding fathers hoped for, and may be much of the reason why it is one of the oldest still active documents of its kind.

    It is interesting how spun up people can get over it, though. For example, there are plenty of women’s groups, for example, that scare people into voting Democrat otherwise a Constitutional amendment overturning Roe v Wade. If it were that simple, it would have happened already – we’ve had plenty enough blips on the radar where the Republicans had reasonable power to make something like that happen, and it never went anywhere (330 times they’ve tried, only once did it even make it to the floor for a formal vote).

    Talk of amendments is stupid. Most of the time, it’s stances that are backed only by fringe elements, like the marriage amendment. It seems to me that these sorts of things do more to alienate voters than it does to generate a core group of supporters.

    Really, unless it turns out that something is outright unconstitutional, there are easier ways to make something the law of the land than this.

    1. “The Constitution has only been modified [formally amended] 27 times in its more than 200 year existence …”

    2. how on earth did we get so stupid as to allow Prohibition to pass?

      Is the War on Drugs any better? And the latter can’t even be stopped with an (other) amendment!

      1. The difference between the stupidity of the War on Drugs and Prohibition is that Prohibition was an actual Constitutional amendment, which meant that not only was Congress for it, a sizable portion of the voting populous was as well. The War on Drugs has nothing to do with the Constitution, it’s governed by other laws that don’t have as stringent a ratification process.

      2. Does anyone else find it amusing that they realized they needed a Constitutional amendment to make alcohol illegal, yet they made drugs illegal without one?

        What’s worse, we let it happen.

  20. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. You have a written constitution, and you change it through an amendment process, instead of just having a star chamber of 9 decide on whim that the rules have changed.

  21. A balanced budget amendment actually came within 1 vote of clearing congress so it could be ratified by the states. Had it passed, we might not have accumulated 11 trillion dollars in extra debt over the course of 11 years and 2 presidents. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. The constitution has been amended many times – just not very many recently.

    1. The constitution has been amended many times

      You and I have a very different definition of “many many times”. Following the Bill of Rights, the Constitution has only been amended 17 times, and two of those cancel each other out. 17 times in more than 200 years constitutes “many many times”?

      Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.

      I agree with you about this. I believe that was the founding fathers’ motivation behind developing the ratification process to be as challenging as it is – the Constitution can indeed be changed to suit the times, but not on a whim. It has to be something that’s worth the effort.

      I would also agree with a balanced budget amendment being worthwhile. The author claims if it was that important to Congress, they’d just do it. The point of an amendment is to ensure that it’s not just important to Congress right now, but forever. I have to balance my checkbook, I’m expected to pay my bills. Even the states are required to have balanced budgets. But the Federal Government doesn’t have to. There’s something wrong with that picture.

  22. Watch Herman Cain deliver the Tea Party State of the Union at http://www.TeaPartyExpress.org ! The live stream starts on Tuesday, January 24th at 10:30 EST/7:30 PST.

  23. God I wish I got in on this yesterday.

    Fuck you Chapman. I hate idiots who claim “it’s toooo haaard to get an amendmeeeent passed.” *said in an irritating whiny voice*

    It’s been done 27 times for an average of once every 8 years. It’s completely doable and the states even have the ability to do it independently from Congress. It just requires people/state legislatures to get off their lazy asses and do it.

    1. Yeah I think Chapman completely missed the important point on this issue. The point is they don’t amend it anymore because they don’t need to. They just do what they want and for the most part SCOTUS rubber stamps it.

      It’s not that amending the Constitution is hard, it’s that the bad guys have no need to, and the good guys want to amend the Constitution to re restrict the government, and neither party has much interest in that.

  24. A balanced budget amendment may never pass, but a currency of fixed value would restore fiscal discipline, and it requires no amendment. Why? Consider these words from a man far wiser than any of today’s politicians. I know it sounds like Ron Paul but is not. Can any reader identif”y the author?
    As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. “

  25. My propsed Constitutional Amendment?
    Any elected official found violating the Constitution (tried by a jury, not the SCOTUS) shall be hanged by the neck until dead in full public view on the Capitol steps.

    Think it’ll pass?

    1. I’m not sure I’m ready to get on board with a death penalty for any crime… But, yes, I do think blatant violations of the oath of office, which always includes swearing to uphold the constitution, should be treated very seriously. Treason seems appropriate, or at the very least, the highest form of perjury.

  26. Gallup has found a majority of Americans has consistently been against an amendment to forbid a

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