I Never Consented   2 comments

The Preamble to the US Constitution is a lovely opening statement for a document and we might be pretty attached to it. Something that so elegantly asserts the right of self-government should be considered a national treasure. I encountered a few folks who fear that a constitutional convention would completely rewrite the constitution and do away with the Preamble, replacing it with something akin to the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Fear is sometimes a good reason not to do something, but that fear should be based on reason and facts, not just on fear itself.

Realistically …

Do we see 75 legislative bodies out of 99 being less than attached to the Preamble of the US Constitution?

I don’t, but I look forward to the debate because it will provide us ownership of our Constitution.

Nobody living in America today agreed to be governed by the Constitution of the United States. While I think it is the best form of government we have today, I think a lot of people don’t understand it and need to. Legitimate government requires the consent of the governed, but I never consented to be governed by the Constitution. I think I would if given the choice, but why should I or anyone else care if our rulers follow it if we did not consent to having it govern us in the first place?

Our Founders created a great form of government, but they weren’t omniscient or prophetic and they failed to properly restrain the government in the late-20th into the 21st century. The current government doesn’t even pretend to obey the constitution. Maybe, if the people through their state legislatures, insisted that they do, we could create a crisis that would affect some change. An Article V convention of the states would be an opportunity to look at what might need tweaking or reform and what should be kept.

First, recognize that the body of the Constitution and the existing amendments cannot be deleted. They can be amended. The original language remains in force, but modified. We’ve only repealed one amendment and it remains in the Constitution so that we can see how dumb we were and that we corrected our mistake.

Article One – the structure and function of the Legislature. Only Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. Do we think they’ll convince the rest of us that it’s a good idea to go that way? There are people who believe that we should make that change – do away with the Senate – but as I have stated several times, 75 of 99 legislative bodies would have to agree to any changes. Changes I could see happening are:

  • Term limits
  • Benefits – the American people are, by and large, annoyed by the idea that you can service one term as a Congressman and have benefits for life.
  • Enumerated powers could use some tweaking and limitations, especially clarifying the Necessary and Proper Clause – perhaps requiring these unenumerated powers to be “ratified” by the states.

Article Two – the structure and function of the Executive. There are a few folks out there that would like to see us move to a Parliamentary system with a prime minister. The difference? The people elect the president. Parliament selects the prime minister. I don’t see those who favor that system winning the day enough to get over the three-quarters bar. States are likely to vote for what they’re used to and every state in the union has a governor similar to a president, so the structure is unlikely to change. Possible amendments could be:

  • Making it clear that the President must be an American citizen with a properly executed birth certificate that shows him/her born in the US or one of the territories or military reservations to American citizen parents, naturalized or born.
  • Restricting the authority to do recess appointments.
  • Allowing a clause for states to issue impeachment proceedings.
  • Limits on executive orders (something the current president really won’t like)

Article Three – structure and function of the Judiciary.  I don’t see a lot of changes occurring to the structure of the federal judiciary. No, the 9th Circuit doesn’t work for Alaskans, but I can’t think of an alternative. Possible changes might be:

  • Term limits for justices. Lifetime appointments no longer work since people started living so long. Appointed positions should never serve for 30 years without some sort of citizen oversight.
  • States should be allowed to petition Congress for redress when the circuit court appears to have become dictatorial.
  • A confidence vote by state legislatures for the federal judiciary. In Alaska, citizens can vote up-or-down every 10 years on retaining judges and we’ve gotten rid of a couple of the worst this way.

The point is that most people are attached to the Constitution, so significant changes to the main body are unlikely to happen. What this process might do, however, is help to clarify that the constitution is still in force and that any extraconstitutional laws must agree with it.

Let’s stop ignoring the Constitution! It’s only obsolete if we allow it to be.

2 responses to “I Never Consented

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  1. If you didn’t consent..i suppose then you could ignore it.

    Like

    • But that’s the problem we have in the United States today, is that many people do ignore it. The First Amendment used to mean you have freedom speech except when your freedom might result in very real injury to people (shouting fire in a crowded theater). Today, it is restricted according to time, place and audience, according to many observers. That’s just one example.

      I think a conversation about the Constitution might provide ownership of that document in the minds of the American people, who may start to take exception to our government just ignoring it, which is what they do now.

      Like

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