At Least the Bill of Rights
After 227 years, there are obvious failings with the Constitution, sections that have been interpreted, re-interpreted, and misinterpreted for generations. It’s time to examine the ambiguity, and re-write essential sections, most importantly in the Bill of Rights, making changes to promote certainty over uncertainty, and for it to become a document relevant to today’s society, and to the society of the next one hundred years, or more.
Matters anachronistic to the 18th century need to be clarified, changed, or removed, and new matters, unthought-of back then, need to be added. Here is my interpretation of what needs to be done:
The first amendment needs to have added an additional freedom that has become, in this 21st century, every bit a important as those included in the amendment that was crafted more than 200 years ago, the right to privacy. The section prohibiting the establishment of religion needs to be expressed much more decisively, with language that makes it clear
The second amendment must be clarified to simply state the meaning that was unquestionably intended, that the right to bear arms is applicable only as it is modified by the first words of the amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”, and that the mentally ill and individuals that have in the past demonstrated dangerous criminal behavior, explicitly have NO right to bear arms.
The fourth amendment is perhaps the most difficult of the ten to analyze and re-write in today’s technological society. Significantly more meaningful protections against electronic surveillance need to be guaranteed, as do protections against the warrantless search of computers and mobile devices for personal information that if it were instead written on a piece of paper and stored in a drawer could never have been searched, seized, or examined without a judge first ruling on whether or not authorities had probable cause sufficient for such a search.
The eighth amendment provides a modern day conundrum, that will be debated on into the future: Is the death penalty, by definition, “cruel and unusual punishment?” Courts around the country in the last couple of decades have held that improper methods used to carry out the death penalty have been “cruel and unusual”, but no court has said that the death penalty is of it self so defined. Should it be? Many will say yes, and the number appears to be growing year by year. Of the 195 independent countries that ar members of the United Nations, 100, more than 50%, have abolished the death penalty. Another 48 member countries retain it as a legal remedy, but have not put it to use for more than ten years. Barely 20% of member countries still actively use the death penalty. Such countries include Afghanistan, China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Vietnam, and Yemen. Is this a list of countries with which the US wants to be included? I think not. Our neighbors to the north, Canada, abolished the death penalty in 1976, and to the south, Mexico did so in 2005. Australia
The third, sixth, seventh, and ninth amendments appear to have stood the test of time and need no revision.
But, it is essential that a new addition to the Bill of Rights be added, whether it be numbered among the existing ten or in line as the next consecutively, but its inclusion is essential: All elections must be publicly funded, with all “qualifying” candidates for any specific office to have the same war chest of funds to spend. There can be no private contributions directly or indirectly to any specific election campaign. Instead, any benevolent citizen has the newly crated right to donate to a general fund that is divided evenly among candidates. Other funding will come from tax revenue.