The Constitution of the United States was written more than two and a quarter centuries ago when our country had a fraction of today’s population, when roads and communications were slow and inefficient, and when agriculture was the main occupation. Although the Constitution has served us reasonably well, a number of defects are now quite apparent.
The following draft illustrates a number of corrections that I think should be made. I’m sure that many will disagree with some or all of the following or will come up with a better result, so maybe this should be considered a conversation-starter.
Redraft of the Constitution of the United States of America
Purpose of government. The purpose of government at all levels is to create an environment where citizens can maximize their potential if they choose to do so. To accomplish such an environment, government will:
1. Provide security by defending our borders, property and persons from harm.
2. Provide all citizens with a quality education up to periodically determined levels, which will meet domestic and global challenges.
3. Provide all citizens with access to affordable health care.
4. Prevent discrimination against any class of citizen.
5. Protect the environment by ensuring air, water and food quality and designating adequate park and wilderness areas for the enjoyment of the people.
Responsibilities of citizens. Citizens must:
1. Serve when called upon by the Congress.
2. Obey the laws.
3. Vote without being obligated to do so. Government will encourage voting by making it as efficient and convenient as possible and by employing available technology. Voting will not be impeded by restrictions unless they are clearly shown necessary to prevent fraud that can be accurately proven to be occurring at alarming levels.
House of Representatives
Congressional districts: District boundaries will be redrawn every 10 years or less with available census data. The Supreme Court of each state will appoint an independent commission, which will have no representatives from the House or Senate of the state or the governor of the state. Members can include cartographers and demographers, and they will attempt to draw boundaries that as are close to squares or rectangles as may be possible. The Supreme Court of the state will approve the commission’s results and will rule upon any objections.
Representatives: Congressional representatives will be elected by popular vote for staggered four-year terms, and they will be allowed to run for two more four-year terms, after which they will be unable to run again.
Elections: Each state will be allowed two senators, who will be elected by popular vote of the various states. Senators will be elected on a staggered basis to serve one six-year term. They may then run for an additional term, after which they will be unable to run again.
Voting: Votes on all laws and appointments will be won by a simple majority.
Appointments: The Senate must approve or disapprove by a simple majority all presidential appointments, including Supreme Court and inferior court justices, ambassadorships, Cabinet officers, etc., within 90 days. If a vote is not taken, the appointment will be deemed approved.
Election: The president will be elected by a simple majority of all eligible citizens. Political campaigns for the presidency, the Senate and the House will begin no earlier than six months prior to the election and will be funded by amounts periodically determined and paid by Congress. No private citizen, corporate or other funding is allowed.
Term: The president will be elected for one six-year term after which he or she is unable to serve again.
Legislation: Although Congress generally initiates bills, the president may propose legislation to both houses, which then must vote the legislation up or down without amendment within 90 days.
The president will appoint justices, which the Senate will confirm or not within 90 days. If no vote is taken, the appointment is confirmed. Justices will serve for one 10-year term on a staggered basis, after which they can no longer be confirmed.
Budget: Congress will propose a budget prior to a new fiscal year. If vetoed and sustained, the president will enact his or her budget.
War: If troops are deployed abroad in a combat role, Congress must approve the action within 60 days.
Amendments to bills: Congress will not allow amendments to bills unless they are germane to the subject of the bill.
Arms: Individual states will have the obligation to determine if private citizens have the right to own arms. If that right is granted, the states will determine under what conditions and regulations arms will be governed. A citizen traveling in another state is subject to that state’s armament regulations. The purpose of a citizen owning arms is for protection, hunting, sports, etc. In no case should the capacity and power of armaments exceed that which can be reasonably expected for the activity involved.
Amendments 2, 12, 18, 21 and 22 are no longer relevant. Remaining amendments will be edited and incorporated into the revised document.
Edgar M. Morsman Jr., of Deephaven, is a retired banker.