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Everard
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http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2006/10/22/get_me_rewrite/

I posted this on another thread, but its an interesting concept that rarely gets played around with.

Not saying I agree or disagree with any of his specific questions, but I do think that the constitution is due for a good hard close look to see what in it is good, and what in it needs to be tossed.

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DaveS
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I'll pick on one or two. I absolutely think that the composition of the senate is right. Without the current distribution, we would end up with regional super-states that band together in self-defense against big states targeting their resources and denying them Congressional funds. The Electoral College isn't perfect, but I think it "works" for the same reason.

Voting in a new Constitution every 10, 20 or 30 years would make the very principles on which the government is based be a commodity, purchased in the same disgusting manner that we now conduct our elections.

Actually, after reviewing all of the questions, I think I am a non-card-carrying member of the Grumpy Curmudgeon Party. There's an old Jewish saying "You may be miserable, but it's the only happiness you'll ever know." Why trade the Constitutional misery we were bequeathed by our brilliant Framers for a new misery more than likely defined by the current wealth and power elites?

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TommySama
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"Voting in a new Constitution every 10, 20 or 30 years would make the very principles on which the government is based be a commodity, purchased in the same disgusting manner that we now conduct our elections."

Ick, plus I want to keep as much distance between us and those dirty frogs in France.


"Why trade the Constitutional misery we were bequeathed by our brilliant Framers for a new misery more than likely defined by the current wealth and power elites?"

*shudder*

Can you imagine the republicrats and demublicans arguing in a big marble hall about this? I fear how our constitution would end up [Frown] .

Our constitution needs defending from the people we vote into office.

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Jesse
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How is the reverse situation, the one we currently have, in which small States recieve disproportionate federal largess while large States fund the Federal Government, better?

That, of course, isn't really a "re-write" issue, it's an ammendment issue. We have a re-write process built in for a reason, and we've used it more than once.

Either the Senate or the electoral college needs to go, and I perfer the electoral college. Small States can form their own alliances in the Senate to protect their intrests.

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0Megabyte
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This guy has a few good ideas, but I think that the fact that our government is relatively hard to change is a GOOD thing. Make it too easy to change, and something even worse than today's problems would come about, most likely.

But it would be nice to have some sort of, I dunno, addendum to the Constitution, that could deal with relevant current issues, and help limit the powers of government while at the same time recognizing the reality of today's world, and the changes in what we decide we need in government.

Wait... we can amend the constitution as we need for such things. But we still have the problem of nobody seeing what needs to be done.

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DaveS
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How representative is it if it disproportionately favors the already powerful? When Constitution I (and only) was approved, Vermont feared that and responded by approaching England for separate recognition. Less than 20 years later Massachusetts tried to organize a New England secession because its interests weren't being recognized.
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javelin
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2000 Census Results - Representatives Per State

I'll work to see if I can get an actual post that lists each state with their number of representatives. Then we can each do the math and figure out if we agree that the electoral college and/or Senate should be abolished.

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javelin
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California has 53/435 (12.18%)
Florida has 25/435 (5.75%)
New York has 29/435 (6.67%)
Texas has 32/435 (7.36%)

There are quite a few (seven) states that have only 1/435 (0.23%).

This isn't as bad as I thought it'd be - I feel more comfortable with the idea after looking at the numbers.

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Jesse
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The House is proportional...well, mostly. I don't think anyone argued that it isn't.

That's not the electoral college, with it's three vote per state minimum, or the Senate.

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DaveS
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Note that your 4 largest states are spread out and could become the kingpins of regional superstates. "As goes California (or Texas), so goes the nation." would replace the old homily about General Motors. I can imagine a delegation from the Caligonian Vegetable Growers Association negotiating interstate treaties with the Greater East Coast Federation Consumer Protection Regulatory Board.
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Dagonee
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I'm going to limit my suggestions to structural changes.

First, the courts. Supreme court terms of 17 or 19 years (a prime number makes the overlaps less likely). No second terms. Can only be elevated from the federal bench.

One lower level of judges, appointed for 13 or 17 year terms, multiple terms allowed. Once a judge has served 5 years, he is eligible to rotate into an intermediate appellate role, which will take the place of circuit courts. Appeals of right go to a 3-judge panel. En banc appeals heard with the consent of a majority of judges in the appellate rotation. Any judge with over 9 years can sit on an en banc appeal.

Nominations are sent to the senate. If no action is taken in 180 or 270 days, the nomination is confirmed.

On the legislative front, the ability of half +1 of either house to act via consent - that is, by signing a bill or resolution outside of session. This has the effect of passing the bill or resolution. Require a waiting period to allow scheduling debate from the time the consent bill is enrolled until the signature time closes. Members can remove their name up until the deadline.

On the spending and tax front, all spending sunsets in 5 years; all taxes sunset in 5. Line item veto for expenditures, overturnable by simple majorities. Upping the debt limit requires 2/3 of one house, majority of the other.

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DaveS
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The judgeship ideas look good. Need to hear discussion about the legislative and tax ideas. Not sure they are practical.
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Dagonee
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I'm not either. The consent one is, I think. It's aimed at stopping the leadership from preventing action on something. There are other ways to do this, I'm sure.
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Matteo522
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Dagonee:

That makes much too much sense. It'll never fly.

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LinuxFreakus
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As much as I'd like to see a few clarifications in the constitution. I am too afraid of what might happen if we actually made a new one today. I do not feel like the constitution is flawed enough that I would be comfortable rolling the dice with an update.
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The Drake
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The author seems not to grasp the concept of a Republic or the Separation of Powers. Luckily the framers did.

quote:
Is it desirable that the Constitution, which allows the impeachment of a president who commits `'high crimes and misdemeanors," provides no language or process suitable for ridding ourselves of a president whose ineptness is recognized by a substantial majority of the population?

Does it make sense that a repudiated president--that is, an incumbent defeated in a national election--maintains the presidency for a full 10 weeks beyond Election Day, fully capable of making policy decisions that may drastically affect the future of the United States? In Great Britain, a new prime minister replaces a defeated incumbent the very next day.

This demonstrates the ignorance in spades.

#1, a substantial majority of people reaffirmed this president fewer than 2 years ago.

#2, picture Bush-Gore if someone was supposed to take charge the "very next day".

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RickyB
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Agree with Drake. Public polling data does not mean that action must be taken or else something is wrong. The American people, in their infinite wisdom, have voted (slimly, but voted) to re-elect this man despite the vast majority if his failures and offenses being known at the time.

Now, as to only Federal judges on the Supreme Court - ummmm, why? Brliiant academics need not apply? term limits? Don't like it. Each of the last 4 presidents has had the chance to replace at least one supreme. I believe all the two termers have replaced two or more, tho I could be wrong. Reagan and the emperor have. I don't see the problem.

Now, as for large states Vs. smaller ones - first of all, that is the meaning of a union. Should the US outvote the Netherlands 20-1 in the UN assembly?

Second, there will never, ever be a perfectly equitable situation where no-one gets more than they give. It is entirely appropriate for NY and Cali to carry Mississippi or Nebraska. What is not appropriate is the nasty, bizarro-world attitude pols from the sacred heartland often take with their coastal sugar daddies. Just as wealthy people make welfare possible, so wealthy states make it possible for "rugged individualist" states to get what they need.

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Dagonee
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quote:
Now, as to only Federal judges on the Supreme Court - ummmm, why?
The principle reasons: 1) create a record for confirmation, and 2) too many SCOTUS decisions seem to forget that they are supposed to be guidelines for lower court judges to use in deciding cases. This isn't the most important part and is largely a throw-away suggestion, though.

As for term limits, one of the principle reasons the court is so contentious is the 40-year or more length of service. I think a truly life-long term is not necessary to provide continuity. Finally, with the increased role of the Court in making policy determinations, there needs to be greater accountability to the people. This long of a term and the inability to serve another preserves independence while also allowing a full replacement of the court each generation.

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DaveS
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Popular votes in a majority system reflect current trends over longterm interests, and we call an election result a "landslide victory" when as few as 6 out of 10 people vote the same way. It can help to imagine the unintended consequences from an outcome you voted for to put things in perspective.

For instance, by granting privileges to "organized churches" to do good works, we could end up with Christianity as the State Religion.

We could see the establishment of wealth as a basis for participation in governance, by making federal House and Senate seats unpaid.

I can imagine social security and welfare being thrown away through an Article that recognizes individual freedom and responsibility. Voting privileges could be restricted by requiring competency based on content and language (English) criteria.

I pointed out once before that the First Amendment doesn't only guarantee me the right to say what you don't want to hear, but guarantees you the right to say what I don't want to hear. That could span all the way from Gangsta Rap lyrics to public dissent in a time of war.

The "people" had no say in the drafting of our Constitution, but it is the the most egalitarian set of principles of government ever drafted. If we put it to a popular vote today, "interests" with disproportionate influence would drive us toward becoming a nation of unequals. Instead of Red states and Blue states, we'd have Disney states and Oil states.

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Colin JM0397
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From my point of view, the Constitution is barely in effect and hangs around just in name. Well, on second thought, some of it is still fairly intact, but a lot of it has been blown away.
It’s, what, like 4 pages long?
How many federal laws do we have now? Probably millions of pages… How many of those laws were actually passed in the legislature?

The problem is not with the Constitution. The problem is with the ever growing, ever creeping federal control and power that the Constitution was set up to prevent and, if you read any of the framer’s papers and comments, it was designed to stop if it was actually followed.

I’m not for rewriting it, but I am for repealing a few of the amendments along with one act – the 16th & 17th and the Federal Reserve Act.

Beyond that as long as I’m playing fantasy, lets scrap most federal laws and start from scratch again.

The foundation is solid – it’s the house of cards on top of it that’s shaky.

Oh, and actually enforce the 10th amendment as it was written - ie dump the bloated federal bureaucracies that are not constitutionally mandated – Education, FHA, etc.

While we’re at it, any “law” that was never voted on by a legislature is to be deemed illegal and voided.

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Redskullvw
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Dump the 17th and I suspect we would see sudden and dramatic improvement in how our Federal Government taxes and spends the Federal Digest.

Otherwise the current version and amendments seems to not need adjustment. The 17th fundamentally changed how our government functions. The check against the House of Representatives was lost, allowing for the excesses we now have. Make Senators beholden to their Governor and State Houses again and suddenly Washington lobbyists would be without jobs.

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Colin JM0397
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I suppose while we're at it we better have a "what common defense and general welfare" really means amendment.

That would be a hell of an argument...

Honestly, I'm for striking "general welfare" from the record altogether.

BUT BUT BUT!!! What about the environment, education, housing, land management, blah, blah, blah...
Let the states handle it. They are much more suited to tailor things for their specific regions.

For instance, those damn federally-mandated low volume toilets might make sense in Nevada, but not in Michigan.

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DaveS
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quote:
For instance, those damn federally-mandated low volume toilets might make sense in Nevada, but not in Michigan.
You're right, I forgot about us! The upper midwest controls 21% of all the fresh surface water in the world (84% of the fsw in the US). Nevada, who's your daddy now?
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Ben
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quote:
Recall that over our 220-year history, the Supreme Court has invalidated approximately 165 federal laws, most of them of relatively little importance. US presidents, on the other hand, have vetoed 2,501 laws, many of them of great import.
This seems questionable. How are these vetos distributed and what is their general impact in the long run? It seems to me that presidential vetos are temporary, and the legislature can either override with a 2/3 majority or bring it up again after the president is replaced. Contrast that to the Supreme Court's decisions which typically set a precedent almost in stone. Also, over the same span of time, it seems that use of the president's veto has been relatively stable while the Supreme Court seems to have become more involved lately in such issues.

And the author doesn't say what the issues are, that were involved. Maybe his thoughts on what is important and what is not are directly opposite to my thoughts. Just ask a hunter or shooting fan in the bible belt if he thinks the right to bear arms without gun registration is important, or abortion rights. Then ask the same question to a radical feminist in Berkley, and you're almost guaranteed to get different answers.

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