Think ... People,  THINK!

A New Constitution

Life has changed in the past 200+ years. Is modern life adequately reflected in the Constitution? Is there a need to revise the Constitution?

There are several factors that indicate the U.S. Constitution and its amendments should be significantly revised/updated. A few of these are:

(1) Misspellings and archaic legalese make understanding in some places as confusing as a James Joyce novel (" Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood..."). It is no wonder we can't get Supreme Court decisions on a 9-0 vote.

(2) Some specifics are outdated (e.g. trial by jury for controversy exceeding $20, references to the year 1808)

(3) Many terms are not definitive: "excessive fines", "a speedy trial", "unreasonable searches and seizures", and have consequently resulted in many interpretations.

(4) Modern technology can provide the means for faster and more accurate communications and information dissemination (e.g. census-taking, voting, polling)

(5) Stricter control of the economy.

(6) Better balance of power among the branches of government.

(7) Curtail how Congress benefits itself.

(8) Better apportionment of Representatives.

(9) Better definition and allowances for National security and Defense.

Time magazine (July 4, 2011), "The 10th Annual History Issue", devotes much of the issue to how the Constitution fits modern times.

Due consideration of life today (e.g. World wars and world economy, air travel, space exploration, nuclear/biological/chemical weapons, medical advances,  health care, DNA, electronic devices, TV, computers, the Internet, new social norms, life expectancy, financial institutions and controls, religious doctrines, sexual orientation, environmental pollution, etc etc etc) would be expected to highlight many areas where Constitutional reform is in order.

I think a Constitutional Committee should be established to gather for one year, from States and citizens alike, ideas and recommendations for the content/wording of a new Constitution. I think this committee should document the ideas and recommendations gathered and provide this information broadly to the public. Using this information the Committee should draft a new Constitution to then be reviewed, modified and ratified in a Constitutional Convention to be held no later than one year after the draft is released to the public. Membership of the Committee should be selected jointly by the President, the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. Membership should be limited to 50 persons, one from each State, and within that group further be representative of the population (e.g. gender, race, education, occupation, financial status).

What do you think?

Of course, much of the Constitution should be retained. I propose a few items that should be re-considered or considered new for the next Constitution:

1.  Eliminate the Electoral College: provide for direct electronic voting for the President and Vice President.
2.  Specify national communication capabilities and controls: postal service, frequency allocations, printed material, Internet, satellites; provide for an electronic polling system to provide public inputs directly to Government officials.
3.  Require a balanced budget: disallow deficit spending, require annual reduction of public debt.
4.  The specific source of funding for each new law or project must be specified as part of the law.
5.  Provide for line-item veto by the President.
6.  Impose term limits on members of Congress (8 years) and the Supreme court (20 years) -experience is good; fresh thinking is good.
7.  Congress to receive the same retirement benefits as other members of Government. Specify presidential retirement benefits, including protection for 1-year if desired.
8.  Congress to individually certify they have read and understand each proposed law prior to voting.
9.  New laws are not in effect until the Supreme Court certifies that the law does not violate the Constitution.
10. Specify Cabinet positions and duties and how they may be changed.
11. Provide for a Constitutional dictionary that defines all terms used in the Constitution
12. No member of the Government or candidate for office shall lie to the public (specify as a felony and as a basis for impeachment and removal from office).
13. Expand voter qualifications to include knowledge of the issues.
14. Clarify: spoken or written physical threats are not protected by freedoms of speech or press.
15. Clarify how States may be divided or merged.
16. Revise the apportionment rules for the House of Representatives; limit membership to 500.
17. Clarify impeachment basis and process, and the extent of impeachment "judgment".
18. Specify times of publishing key Government documents (rather than "...from time to time...")
19. Clarify allowable taxation and limitations of additional tax regulations by enforcing agencies; specify what may not be taxed.
20. Specify the regulation limitations on any agency designated to implement a law passed by Congress. Eliminate current wording typical in Amendments "Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
21. Specify types of crimes, associated injuries, and associated punishments in an attached catalog.
22. Clarify the legal system: specify judge requirements and limitations, include a legal dictionary.
23. Clarify the process for making/breaking international treaties, for participation in the United Nations, and for compliance with international law.
24. Clarify national defense: definition of enemies, procedure for declaring war, reaches of war into foreign territory, rules of engagement, resources (including militia, and allow an Air Force and Space Force), funding.
25. Delineate a Space agency and specify compliance with space laws and space treaties.
26. Delineate an Intelligence agency (foreign and domestic information gathering & dissemination).
27. Specify what "Secrecy" is allowed in government and how it is to be managed.
28. Revise Immigration and Citizenship requirements, limitations, and loss of status; make provisions for a Citizen I.D. card. Specify limitations on foreign adoptions.
29. Specify that appointments by the President are prohibited when Congress is in recess.
30. Specify Congressional salaries, salary caps, and limitations on Congressional pay raises.
31. Specify that Congress may not exclude themselves from any law imposed on the people.
32. Specify the consequences of refusing to serve in a combat zone or high risk environment.
33. Expand the requirements/limitations to be a member of Congress; may not have been convicted of a felony, must demonstrate knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of his/her State. Specify that each new member of Congress shall be given a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
34. Specify limitations on campaigns seeking Government positions; funding, promises, publicity.
35. Clarify Congressional law-making procedures; specify time-lines; prohibit filibusters; prohibit riders ("earmarks") not directly related to the subject of the bill; a summary of dissenting opinions to be an informational attachment to each law.
36. Specify that the Supreme Court shall certify that each State Constitution and its future amendments do not violate the U.S. Constitution.
37. Delineate a monetary and banking system with both Federal and State controls. Specify limitations on foreign aid.
38. Specify limitations on foreign acquisition of U.S. resources (land, materials, structures, companies).
39. Specify that the language of the country in commerce and Government is English.
40. Specify gun/weapon ownership and usage rights, and associated limitations.
41. Specify allowable/disallowable patents/trademarks with consideration of advancing technologies.
42. Specify allowances/controls of citizen retirement benefits and health care.

What do you think?

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