6 Amendments

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6 Amendments

Postby KeithE » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:35 pm

Retired SOTUS judge John Paul Stevens (35 years in that capacity) has written a book: Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution

USA TODAY article summarizes the 6 (I’ve added a brief title for reference):
-(Guns) Changing the Second Amendment to make clear that only a state's militia, not its citizens, has a constitutional right to bear arms.

• (Death Penalty) Changing the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishments" by specifically including the death penalty.

• (Campaign Contribution Limits) Removing from First Amendment protection any "reasonable limits" on campaign spending enacted by Congress or the states.

•(Gerrymandering) Requiring that congressional and state legislative districts be "compact and composed of contiguous territory" to stop both parties from carving out safe seats.

•(States Liability) Eliminating states' sovereign immunity from liability for violating the Constitution or an act of Congress, which he calls a "manifest injustice."

•(State Rights in Emergencies) Allowing Congress to require states to perform federal duties in emergencies, in order to reduce "the risk of a national catastrophe."


Not sure what he exactly means about the last two suggested Amendments,

So I’m with him on the first 4 but have questions on the last two. I feel most strongly about the Campaign Contribution Limits.

What do ya’ll think?
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby Ed Pettibone » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:51 pm

Ed: I think Stevens should be reminded that his job was to interpret the Constitution as is. Rewriting is the in preview of the Legislative branch, not the Executive or Judaical especially former judges.
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby KeithE » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:33 pm

Ed Pettibone wrote:Ed: I think Stevens should be reminded that his job was to interpret the Constitution as is. Rewriting is the in preview of the Legislative branch, not the Executive or Judaical especially former judges.

At the risk of irritating you Ed, I believe you meant purview (not preview) and Judicial (not Judaical).

As a former judge (35 years) he has every right to suggest rewrites to clarify meaning and/or suggest new Amendments.
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby Mrs Haruo » Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:53 am

I wonder if the last one has to do with natural disasters (Like Katrina? Giant off shore oil spills? Pending massive multi-state flooding?) that could overwhelm resources available in one state, and the federal governments power to request immediate emergency aid from neighboring states to prevent further suffering and spreading damage?
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby Ed Pettibone » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:58 am

KeithE wrote:
Ed Pettibone wrote:Ed: I think Stevens should be reminded that his job was to interpret the Constitution as is. Rewriting is the in preview of the Legislative branch, not the Executive or Judaical especially former judges.

At the risk of irritating you Ed, I believe you meant purview (not preview) and Judicial (not Judaical).

As a former judge (35 years) he has every right to suggest rewrites to clarify meaning and/or suggest new Amendments.


Ed: You are right on both spelling corrections and they do not irritate me in the slightest. I am glad to have been close enough that you understood the meaning. You asked what we thought and I told you. Let me add I am I am not overly impressed with federal judges at any level. Coming back into the Baptist realm, do I need to remind you of Paul Pressler's vocation?
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby Sandy » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:57 am

I can't think of a better person to start the dialogue on such an issue as a retired Supreme Court justice who has all kinds of experience with constitutional law and the far reaching effects of interpretations, and who no longer has any vested interest in changing things.

Pressler was never a federal judge. He was a circuit court judge in Harris County, Texas, and was then appointed to the Texas State appeals court.
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby KeithE » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:27 am

JP Stevens did take a crack at a rewrite but he clearly sees it as a first draft knowing full well each suggestion has a long way to go through the Federal and State legislatures before being finalized. Hopefully the American people will make their wishes known more than corporate/wealthy/media forces.

I'll know more particulars when I receive his book from Amazon.

Ed, I got your general opinion but can you break it down by which of the 6 you would be in favor of from what you know. I could already subscribe to first 4.

As Lloyd Benson might say ("Paul Pressler, you are no John Paul Stevens").
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby Sandy » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:35 pm

-(Guns) Changing the Second Amendment to make clear that only a state's militia, not its citizens, has a constitutional right to bear arms.

• (Death Penalty) Changing the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishments" by specifically including the death penalty.

• (Campaign Contribution Limits) Removing from First Amendment protection any "reasonable limits" on campaign spending enacted by Congress or the states.

•(Gerrymandering) Requiring that congressional and state legislative districts be "compact and composed of contiguous territory" to stop both parties from carving out safe seats.

•(States Liability) Eliminating states' sovereign immunity from liability for violating the Constitution or an act of Congress, which he calls a "manifest injustice."

•(State Rights in Emergencies) Allowing Congress to require states to perform federal duties in emergencies, in order to reduce "the risk of a national catastrophe."

From what I've read on the subject, many of these are historical interpretations of the original intent of the founding fathers. There's always a raging argument over the right to bear arms, but if you read the historical documentation on the development of the bill of rights, the militia was exactly why that provision was put in. The death penalty was used by the British crown as a means of keeping order, so the term "cruel and unusual punishment" was put in to place limits on what could be done. Congress has, on several occasions, dealt with gerrymandering, and if you look at maps of congressional districts in any state, you can see that the principle of "compact and contiguous territory" is almost not applied anywhere. Looks like some good reading.

The gerrymandering issue is particularly bothersome, because it is a matter of enforcement, and the state courts in charge of doing that aren't enforcing it. It's an important issue, because it dilutes the power of individual voters. We're at a point now, though, where large cities and sprawling suburbs create concentrated power bases. But the bottom line is that representatives are elected by voters, not by territory.

I'm not sure what his campaign spending proposal would do, but I'm in favor of anything which restricts the amount of money that can be spent on campaigns, and especially on how much money can be contributed. I'd like to see PAC's declared unconstitutional, and force everyone to the principle of one person, one vote, and a limit of $100 in contributions to a single candidate or political party per election cycle.
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby KeithE » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:02 pm

Got the book Friday and just finished reading it. It is short but not an easy read. He discusses a myriad of court cases (mostly SCOTUS) that have had an effect on each of his 6 suggested Amendments, That got tedious with much legalese that got too complicated for me to stop and figure out (often just gave up and read on). But by the time he came to the end of each chapter he stated clearly what changes are needed and why.

I find myself in total agreement with 5 of his 6 amendments and sympathetic to the other one that he calls the "Anti-Commandeering Rule” which had to do with giving the Federal govt the right to force states to participate in law enforcement efforts that Congress enacts when we are in a national emergency. Too many loose ends for me. Congress could enact some doozies that could not not appropriate or needed; states should at least have the right to argue back.

Two of the Amendments just add a prepositional phrase to existing Amendment:

To the 2nd amendment he would add a condition to the right to bear arms that being “when serving in the militia”. He convincingly showed that this was the original intent. Although I’d probably favor an outright repeal of the 2nd Amendment - we don’t have state militia’s anymore.

To the 8th Amendment he would add the phrase “such as the death penalty” to cruel and unusual punishment. What could be more cruel?

Three of them he offers a paragraph as a first draft to consider and one (the Anti-Comandeering Rule) he does not offer any draft Amendment.
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby Sandy » Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:32 pm

KeithE wrote:To the 2nd amendment he would add a condition to the right to bear arms that being “when serving in the militia”. He convincingly showed that this was the original intent. Although I’d probably favor an outright repeal of the 2nd Amendment - we don’t have state militia’s anymore.


We have the national guard, which the governor of a state can call out. But it is no longer necessary for guardsmen to supply their own weapon. The armory takes care of that. I don't know that a repeal of the 2nd amendment is necessary, just enforce gun laws, make owners register them, report them, and pay personal property tax on their value to cover the cost of damages and restitution when someone is shot.
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby KeithE » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:58 am

Sandy wrote:
KeithE wrote:To the 2nd amendment he would add a condition to the right to bear arms that being “when serving in the militia”. He convincingly showed that this was the original intent. Although I’d probably favor an outright repeal of the 2nd Amendment - we don’t have state militia’s anymore.


We have the national guard, which the governor of a state can call out. But it is no longer necessary for guardsmen to supply their own weapon. The armory takes care of that. I don't know that a repeal of the 2nd amendment is necessary, just enforce gun laws, make owners register them, report them, and pay personal property tax on their value to cover the cost of damages and restitution when someone is shot.

I think its original purpose is OBE and should be repealed or restated. There is no need for semi-automatic weapons or handguns. If one desires hunting, rifles are in order; it one desires personal protection, stun guns, mace, and/or tear gas are more effective. Black market guns will still be available, but there is no reason to facilitate madmen.
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby Mrs Haruo » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:02 pm

Anyone who thinks they need a UZI to go deer hunting is a lousy shot.
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby KeithE » Mon May 26, 2014 5:23 pm

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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby Sandy » Fri May 30, 2014 6:45 am

Got the book yesterday, first couple of chapters are excellent.
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Re: 6 Amendments

Postby Haruo » Sat May 31, 2014 10:07 am

How about instituting the death penalty for any person (natural or corporate) who gives more than $100,000 to political campaigns in a given year? This would use the failure to adopt his second suggestion to ameliorate the effects of the failure to adopt his third suggestion.

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