Forgotten Amendments   Leave a comment

These really are the forgotten amendments.

The 20th Amendment was a housekeeping device that I can’t find a real problem with, in and of itself, but delegates at an amendments convention could have a great conversation about whether Congress needs to be in almost perpetual session. Perhaps we should strive for them to spend at least six months out of the year in their home districts where they might actually talk to the citizens. Being away from DC for six months might make it harder for lobbyists to find them too.

The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th. Already discussed.

Now, the 22nd Amendment has had some real attempts at repeal. Partisans always want their favorite son to be able to run for more than two terms. While it would be tempting to allow a really great president to stay in office, I think we’d be stupid to do it and so far, Congress has agreed. There was actually some very real fears among the people of a monarchy forming under FDR, which is the reason this amendment was submitted not long after his death. People recognized that Roosevelt had not been indispensible and they could have done without his last two terms. (History has also made us question whether he actually won those two terms or if the big city political machines manufactured the vote, but that’s another discussion).

I don’t think 38 states could agree to change this amendment either. Now maybe they could discuss term limits for Congress. That would be a step in the right direction. If you read the “anti-Federalist” papers you find that the Framers actually discussed this. I think they could not conceive of a future where people live nearly 20 years longer than they did or they would have put a term limit provision in the Constitution’s body.

There is a Congressman who has submitted an amendment to repeal the 22nd every year since Barack Obama became president, but Congress has shown no interest in taking up the application.

The 23rd Amendment was also an acknowledgement of the right of all citizens to self-governance. It allowed DC residents to vote for President. It shouldn’t have been necessary, but again, I think the Founders weren’t thinking this would be a problem since they could not conceive of lifelong bureaucrats who would actually live in what was a swamp at the time it was selected as the capitol site.

They’re in the Constitution and we should know them and we really might want to ask ourselves why most of us forget they’re there. Are we just lazy or is our constitutional amnesia by design?

Posted August 27, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Constitutional Rights

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