Wednesday, October 7, 2009

State-Initiated Constitutional Amendment Process

Should we have a constitutional convention?

Short answer: NO! An open-ended rewrite of the Constitution permits few opportunities for improvement but has far to many opportunities for mischief and disimprovement.

As one commenter put it: “There is nothing wrong with our Constitution. The problem is with our politicians, and with the lazy citizenry who refuse to vote them out when they consistently violate that Constitution.”

However, the challenge of getting around the Congressional roadblock on Amendments that curtail the Congress (such as term limits) is a real one. So one very good idea did bubble up out of the discussion:

I would prefer to add a 3rd method of Amendment: If 3/4ths of the States pass an identical Resolution of Amendment within a fixed time window, then that Amendment is placed before the voters at the next Congressional election for ratification, majority vote.

This bypasses Congress when necessary, and strengthens the hand of the States with respect to the Federal Government.

I would propose the language thusly:
State-initiated Constitutional Amendment Process

When 3/4ths of the States have passed in their respective legislatures identical Resolutions of Amendment within the prior 7 year period, the proposed Amendment in that Resolution of Amendment shall be placed before the voters of all the States at the next Congressional election for their approval, in the form of a ballot referendum.

Such an Amendment shall be deemed to have passed the referendum under the condition where a majority of elector-equivalent votes are counted for the proposal, such elector-equivalent votes having been counted as follows: In each district or State where a number of electors are chosen for President, that number is used as the number of elector-equivalent votes. These elector-equivalent votes are considered for or against the Amendment referendum, depending on whether a majority of ballots cast by voters in that given district or State are for or against the proposed Amendment respectively.

Any such Amendment, having been approved through the above process, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution.
This itself is a Constitutional Amendment. Which means it needs to get through Congress.

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