Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Draft Amendment

One of the problems with modern America, as I see it, is that we have a government severly out of balance. Recently I've been hitting, rather incessantly, on the fact that the tenth amendment is, for all intents and purposes, a dead letter. This is not a new revelation to me, but more examples of what I've known for years keep coming forth, as is natural under certain conditions.

Let me put it to you this way, whenever Congress, or the federal judiciary can simply declare, with impunity, that a constitutional principle no longer applies because of some arbitrary, extra-Constitutional reason like "Congress has occupied the field and intended a complete ouster" -- a basis on which, unchecked, the central government can overthrow every constitutional right reserved to the states and to the People -- and the states, not to mention WE THE PEOPLE, are not so much as even alarmed by this tendency of the central government to absorb into itself all powers formerly reserved to themselves respectively (re: powers denied the central government), then you have a huge problem on your hands which requires immediate attention and subsequent action.

Under these conditions, the statement "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.," or that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.," is a nice saying'n'all, but really, how are these sayings meaningful; in exactly what way do they, in and of themselves, prohibit the central government from encroaching on the rights of states and of the People? Answer: They don't. Thus the ninth and tenth amendments are dead letters; thus the People and the states wherein they reside are slaves to the central government.

Now, let me be clear, the central government didn't just all of a sudden devise a collusive strategy and conspire to overthrow the Peoples' rights. And even if it had done so, which it didn't, that doesn't mean the People do not themselves bear some, if not most or all, of the ultimate responsibility for what has occured. There's no government in the world, including the United States, that can enslave a free people. And you can quote me on that.

But here is my point:

At some point the People must reassert themselves and rein in their government. And they must, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, "create new guards for their future security." The purpose of this "creation of new guards" is obviously to prevent, insofar as is humanly possible, their government from usurping its proper Constitutional authority. It is in this vein that I've drafted the following rewrite of the tenth amendment, U.S. Constitution:

Section I: The People reserve to themselves and to the states wherein they reside all powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution.

Section II: The several states which at any time are part of this union, and from the date of the ratification of this article, shall at every fifth leap year succeeding, call a convention for review of the Constitution, and on the applications to Congress of two thirds of the state conventions for Constitutional review, the Congress shall be compelled to call a convention for addressing the states' concerns. The states shall determine, by two thirds majority vote, and at every third convention interval, by what mode to direct the Congress to act, but the fifth article of the Constitution, or any provision thereof, shall not be infringed.

Section III: The People prohibit review of this article by the Federal Judiciary, or preemption thereof by the United States, but the Judiciary may act as advisory to the Congress.

Readers are welcome and encouraged to try their own hand at it with whichever Constitutional provisions you think most need shoring up. And that was my purpose in the draft amendment above, it is a reassertion of an original Constitutional principle, and a strengthening thereof. Sections II & III reveal yet other purposes.


Anonymous said...

"...the states, not to mention WE THE PEOPLE, are not so much as even alarmed by this tendency of the central government to absorb into itself all powers formerly reserved to themselves respectively..."

Well put! And interesting idea for an amendment. Nice work on this and the last few posts.

Terry Morris said...

Thank you Stephen. I flatter myself that this sort of thing is my strength, at least in a relative sense; that I should probably spend more time working up entries like this one than delving into other issues where I'm less capable. Look for more posts in this vein here at Webster's.