September 20, 2009

If I could amend the Constitution...

The Den Beste Amendment:

1. An Interstate Commercial Transaction as referred to in Article I, Section 8, only exists when the buyer and seller are residents of different states, and the buyer gives money to the seller in exchange for products and/or services which are delivered from one state to another. Congress has no power to regulate commercial transactions which take place within a state between residents of that state, and the Commerce Clause of Article I, Section 8, shall not be construed to grant Congress power to regulate anything which is not commerce.

2. Because it is important for America citizens who are not members of the Armed Forces to be able to protect themselves, their families, their property, their fellow citizens, and the nation as a whole, the right of private citizens over 18 years of age who are not convicted felons to purchase, possess, and carry firearms and ammunition shall not be infringed by federal, state, or local law.

3. Hanging as a form of capital punishment is permitted under the Constitution of the United States, provisions of Amendment Eight notwithstanding.

4. No court in the United States shall be guided by precedents established by courts in other nations or by international tribunals. The United States Constitution and the laws and treaties created under its authority shall be the sole source for all legal decisions within the sovereign territory of the United States.

5. No person shall serve more than 8 years as a US Representative or 12 years as a US Senator.

6. No provision of any treaty shall be enforceable within the United States if it infringes the rights of citizens as recognized by this Constitution.

7. Neither Congress nor any state or local government shall make any law infringing the right of the people to produce and release carbon dioxide. No taxes or fees may be charged for such release.

8. In lawsuits where lawyers work on contingency, the lawyers collectively may not receive a greater percentage of the award than any single one of the clients they represent.

9. It is double jeopardy for a defendant to be criminally tried in both State and Federal court for the same event, even if the indictments read differently. In cases in which both State and Federal prosecutors wish to prosecute, the State shall have priority.

Of course, the chance of this even being considered is nil. I'm more likely to be struck by lightning.


10. Neither the federal government nor any state or locality may pass any law or implement any policy which discriminates against or in favor of any person on the basis of race, gender, or national origin.

I was having trouble figuring out how to phrase this one. And now we've got a nice round 10.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 05:44 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
Post contains 471 words, total size 3 kb.

1 I hope I know my readers well enough to predict that no one will propose repeal of the 16th Amendment.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 20, 2009 05:46 PM (+rSRq)

2 I wouldn't mind bumping off amendment #17, however.

And something about limiting the effects of amendment #16 so that the effective rate is no more than 20%. (Or long as I'm dreaming.)

Posted by: karrde at September 20, 2009 06:22 PM (F3U2E)


At the end of each term, each senator and representative shall be put on trial for corruption.


Posted by: mparker762 at September 20, 2009 06:47 PM (qbKok)


In lieu of capital punishment, criminals convicted of crimes eligible for the death penalty can alternatively be sentenced to life imprisonment, with food, clothing, housing, and other amenities provided by advocates who argue that said criminals are innocent (Or that no criminals deserve the death penalty.), in the residence of said advocates, on the understanding that any future crimes committed by said criminals will result in punishment both for the criminals and for said advocates.

Okay, so this will never fly (Being a positive liberty by a wide interpretation of the idea, as well as incorporating collective responsibility, which is considered a bad thing in classical liberalism.), but since we are engaging in thought experiments...


Posted by: cxt217 at September 20, 2009 06:58 PM (QM6Gw)

5 Ed Morrisey just kindly granted me posting rights in "The Greenroom" and I just cross-posted this there. I wonder if I'm going to regret this.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 20, 2009 07:26 PM (+rSRq)

6 #1: Oh, yes, please!  That would be ever so wonderful.  I feel a thrill up my leg.  I don't think many people realize how effective this would be in kneecapping the current massive overreach of the federal government.

#8: And "loser pays"...?

I'd also like some sort of repeal of the Kelo decision and a much more strict restatement of the limits of eminent domain.

mparker762: Thread winner.

Posted by: Toren at September 20, 2009 07:28 PM (0LOh+)

At the end of each term, each senator and representative shall be put on trial for corruption.
Or implement the Tranai option.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at September 20, 2009 07:47 PM (PiXy!)


Toren, without a doubt the Commerce Clause is the most abused section of the US Constitution and we are long overdue to fix it.

But it won't happen. There isn't a chance in the world of Congress itself proposing any amendment to do such a thing, and if this country ever does call a constitutional convention then we're all in deep shit.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 20, 2009 07:55 PM (+rSRq)


Apologies for length; I'd drop the response on Houblog, but no one would see it, I've been so inactive there.

1. Hell yes!

2. Drop the intro clause; it gives rise to the same arguments over militia as the current 2nd amendment..  Also, given certain stupid slanderous reports about right-wing extremism, it could be read to deny veterans the right to bear arms, or current-duty to bear arms when off-post/on leave/in reserves.  However, my main problem with this is the creeping felonization of white-collar crimes.  Make a mistake on your tax bill, lose your right to a firearm.  I'd restrict felony to acts of violence, conspiracy to conduct such, or

3. Yes. Lethal injections are too easy. Death should be ugly.

4. Agreed, with caveat that English precedents before 1776 can be applied (happens more often than you'd think, and otherwise could retroactively fubar many existing rulings.)

5. I know I'm alone in being against term limits, but I still disagree. It's for the lazy voter; and a revolving door actually strengthens the hand of both the unelected bureaucracy and the lobbyists -- who will all be former Reps and Senators...

6. Yes!

7. No. Too narrow; leave this one alone.

8. I agree with the principle, but not sure it belongs in the constitution.  See #7.

9. Possible issues, but I think it's worth the price.  Definitely needed.

10. No.  Look at all the problems Title IX caused with college funding.  Lets not make Feminist Studies a constitutional requirement.

My addition:

11.  Any decision of the Supreme Court of the United States may be nullified by a super-majority of the states, meeting the same requirements as a constitutional amendment, except no act of Congress is required.  Such nullification must be absolute, neither partial nor limited in any way. (i.e.:straight yes or no, with no conditions attached.).

Thus the guardianship of the contract among the citizens of the U.S. will revert back to the states, not nine half-senile old farts that have lived most of their adult lives insulated from the real world.  Or as wise Latina women.

Posted by: ubu at September 20, 2009 08:10 PM (kL7KW)


I wasn't being totally serious about all of these. I do believe them all, but I recognize that some of them don't really belong in the Constitution.

I should probably have phrased #2 to be "...who are not currently members of the Armed Forces..."

But I wanted to include that preamble in there because what I wrote is what the founders really meant by "a well ordered militia".

7 and 8 were pretty much tongue-in-cheek. But I stand by #10. And I don't think it would mandate Women's Studies departments. That's the entire point. By including "...or in favor of..." it prevents government from doing crap like that.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 20, 2009 08:32 PM (+rSRq)

11 I think #6 really ought to already be recognized as a basic principle (and I'd want to add to it that I don't think a current administration should be able to join a treaty that would prevent a future administration from exercising constitutionally granted powers.)

It seems absurd to me to think that the Executive or Legislative branch could do things through treaty that they're otherwise not allowed to do under the Constitution, but a lot of people seem to want to use this idea to make an end run around certain parts of the Constitution they don't like much. I think we'd see them howl if the shoe were on the other foot though.

Posted by: tds at September 21, 2009 07:36 AM (zjX5u)


"Any legislation passed by Congress that is not readily understood by a functionally literate adult shall be rendered null and void."

Posted by: Douglas Oosting at September 21, 2009 09:09 AM (z9O1B)

13 I think I'm going to close this now.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 21, 2009 10:33 AM (+rSRq)

Hide Comments | Add Comment

Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
      [spoiler]your spoiler here[/spoiler]
Spoilers which are not properly tagged will be ruthlessly deleted on sight.
Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)

At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.

How to put links in your comment

Comments are disabled. Post is locked.
16kb generated in CPU 0.0062, elapsed 0.0147 seconds.
21 queries taking 0.0098 seconds, 30 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.