It’s Time to Re-Write The Constitution

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

that ours is a government of the people, and not one based in any way, shape, or form, on religion, and specifically not on a majority religion whose members feel it necessary and appropriate to both inflict their religion into the United States government and at the same time make it more difficult and awkward for members of other religions to freely practice their beliefs.

Most important of all as far as the first amendment is concerned, is the necessity of making it crystal clear that the freedoms and rights guaranteed therein are reserved

only to human beings, and that legal fictions, such as corporations specifically have no right whatsoever to the freedoms of speech or of religion.

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 fifth amendment still stands strong in its protections for those accused of crimes. Changing times do change the meaning of some of its contents, but overall, courts have remained true to the intent to protect the innocent that is at the core of the amendment. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the last part of the amendment, the part that
states that “[without due process of law]; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Unfortunately, the US Supreme Court has expanded this right of the government far beyond any viable interpretation that could have been envisioned in the late 18th century. The right of eminent domain, which is what that last statement describes, WAS the right of the government to take private land for public use, at just compensation. However, a re-written fifth amendment must right the wrong of the case of Kelo v City of New London in which governments were given the right to steal private land from property owners for not public purposes, but rather for commercial purposes, making it perfectly Constitutional to take such land and turn it over to private developers for any commercial project their little hearts desired.

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

abolished it in 1985, France in 1981, Germany in 1990, Russian in 2009, and the UK in 1998. Most of Europe did so by the start of the 21st century.

The tenth amendment poses another interesting issue. As written it states with clarity, that "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,
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nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” I firmly believe that it is the states that have shredded the bill of rights, running roughshod on the most important rights that we, as citizens of the United States, sought to protect since we took up arms against King George. I would consider rewriting the tenth amendment to eliminate that part about rights being reserved to the states, but some states actually do protect the people, along with the land and sky around us, such as California, and while I would love to see a part of the Constitution protect the people from the dastardly intrusions against seemingly protected liberties as has occurred in states such as North Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona, and so many others, I do realize that would be a dangerous precipice. But some measure of further constitutional control needs to be included in a new tenth amendment. Among other things, that needs to include national funding for public education, and I mean ‘public” education – there shall be no taxpayer funds, ever, doled out to private schools, through a voucher system or otherwise, and certainly never to the perversion that is the burgeoning destroyer of public education, the charter school.

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.


About theHoundDawg

For many years as a lawyer, I saw much of the good and bad of society, and did what I could to right many wrongs. The lack of understanding of what is good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, as evidenced by such events as the election of King W as president, (who as such far surpassed the evil of richard nixon but not quite that of ronald reagan) lead me in a new direction, to spend my time trying to understand what is happening to our society, to try as best I can to spread my insights to others, and along the way to maybe even eke out a living through the internet.
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