Archive for the ‘25th Amendment’ Tag

Repeal the 25th Amendment?   2 comments

Back in 1974, when Gerald Ford became vice-president without having been elected, there was a general movement to repeal or modify the 25th amendment. Oddly enough, this movement faded when Ford became president and then came back full force when Ford pardoned Nixon. There was a sense that the democratic process was not functioning properly.

It’s important to recognize that the 25th amendment was only seven years old when Ford became president. It was a widely-praised reform aimed at eliminating the likelihood that the Speaker of the House, third in line of official secession, would ever become President. At the time, it was argued that Speakers were elected only by their district, which might be a tiny fraction of the population and parochial in their view point. It never occurred to anyone that the President and Vice-President might both by forced from office by disgrace within a single term.

The 25th amendment allows the President to fill a Vice-presidential vacancy, pending Congressional approval. There were several ideas for fixing what was seen as a usurpation of democracy.

Representative Julia Butler Hanson suggested a simple repeal, which the Senate constitutional subcommittee considered holding a special national election when a Vice Presidential vacancy occurs. Sen. John Pastore of Rhode Island thought the national special election should occur only if that unelected VP were to be followed by an opening in the Presidential office. Sen. Robert Griffin of Michigan introduced a constitutional revision that would have eliminated Vice Presidential candidates from the general election ballot, having Congress select the Vice President after the election.

The proposal died in commitee in 1974 after Hansen chose not to run for reelection and there’s been no serious moves since then to repeal it, but Soda Head and the Daily Kos were both discussing it in recent weeks.

Forgotten Amendments Part Deux   Leave a comment

Now we’re moving into the “Civil Rights” era amendments.

I’m generally in favor of taking a good hard look at any amendments that were passed due to a specific period in history. The United States Constitution should not favor any group of individuals over another and when we do, we should eliminate that discrimination. The 24th Amendment is simple and doesn’t seem to cause any harm, but let’s discuss whether it was even necessary to make a prohibition against poll taxes a constitutional provision.

Yes, I know about the Southern states attempting to block black voteres from the polls by use of poll taxes, literacy tests, etc. I understand why people felt this was a necessary constitutional provision, but do we foresee this technique working in the 21st century? It just feels really knee-jerky and as if it could have been solved by a Supreme Court case.

The 25th Amendment was a necessary move toward clarifying presidential succession. If the 12th Amendment were reevaluated, the 25th might need to be revisited, not because there’s any problem with the 25th per se, but because the two amendments interact and a convention of the states might see a disharmony that would require correction.

I personally registered to vote when I turned 18 and I think I’ve been a responsible voter in my 35 years of suffrage. I also had parents who taught me the value and the responsibility of my vote. Sadly, too many young people vote with their feelings rather than their heads, resulting in lunacy like two terms for Barack Obama. It should be noted that 18 to 21 year olds make up less than 5% of the vote, generally, so they’re practicing and hopefully learning some hard lessons from their voting behavior. We might want to have a discussion about it, but my feeling is – they’re adults and citizens of the United States.

I personally would like to see a citizenship test administered before one could register to vote, just so people actually show that they have a basic knowledge of what is at stake, which is one reason I would favor a repeal of the “voting” amendments to replace them with a single amendment that perhaps provides some sort of safeguard against stupid, uninformed voting. But that might just be me wanting something unconstitution because it makes pragmatic sense.

The 27th Amendment didn’t go far enough in limiting the power of multi-term Senators and Representatives to enrich their own pocketbooks. Only if it had been coupled with term limits might it have been effective. It’s worth a review to see how it might be strengthened, but without term limits, it probably can’t be.

My primary problem with all the “forgotten amendments” is that they are forgotten and that tends to make me wonder if they’re necessary or if they were era-specific political machinisations.

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