Philadelphia Reflections

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The Nation Outgrows Its Constitution: An Outline

This is a series of proposed Amendments to the Constitution:

Preamble. When the Constitution was written in 1787, it contained two methods of amendment: Single amendments, and a repetition of the general Convention of all the states, at which anything could be reconsidered. The obvious reasoning was the country might find one single provision was unsatisfactory or the nation might find the whole idea was rejected by the ratification process, and the Convention would have to start over. However, the Convention was unprepared for what actually occurred: In the intervening two centuries, the American Constitution proved so satisfactory that it has only adopted twenty-five amendments, mostly to extend the voting franchise beyond the male taxpayers originally specified. The framers had not imagined such a success, or that attempts to improve its ideas would be so unsuccessful. That is, that Gueverner Morris's document would become so venerated or James Madison's ideas would prove so apt that no one dared change them for fear of disturbing their mysterious elixir of compromise and foresight.

It is written that George Washington on the Dias did recognize the failure to provide for expansibility to accommodate future growth of the nation, and asked that the Convention include as its first amendment the principle that no congressman should represent more than 30,000 citizens. Transportation was difficult in those days, and by that time the convention had seated Thomas Jefferson in the chair, the first delegate from a new state (Kentucky) was clamoring for admission. Temporizing provided enough time to spread a general recognition that such an amendment was unworkable (had it passed, we would now have six thousand congressmen), so the convention passed on to other businesses for lack of a substitute, which unfortunately it also frustrated many future efforts. During the 1920's Congress finally limited its own size, which only succeeded in freezing the situation in place, not solving it.

This incomplete article hopes to suggest a combined solution to several of these difficulties, including the difficulty of bringing up the subject, at all.


- It is proposed: That a convention be called at a suitable time and place, limiting its subject matter narrowly to suggestions for congressional recommendations for Constitutional amendments of various sorts, which are designed solely to accommodate its need to enlarge or reduce the sizes of the branches of government to match future growth or shrinkage of the population to its present relationships. Nothing in these amendments shall be taken to prevent future amendments every ten years, either specifically or generally.



- House of Representatives<----------------->Each elected Representative shall have three elected Sub-Representatives, designated to limit their responsibilities to member representation and such other duties as the elected Representative may wish to delegate. Their main offices will be located within the local district, but dual offices are not prohibited. No one else may run as the main representative for the district unless the seat is vacant, but if the Representative seat is vacant, the vacancy may be filled as at present.


Supreme Court-----------------------

The Supreme Court shall be limited to nine members unless the Chief Justice certifies in writing that two members for each major political party concur with specified enlargement. Appointment for vacancies will be unchanged.

HILARY IS INTERVIEWED ON IMPEACHMENT: C-Span interviewed Hillary Clinton on the evening before Speaker Pilosi was to send the House an indictment of President Trump's impeachment to the Senate. It was claimed the essence of the interview was to contrast: her husband's indictment for lying to Congress years earlier, with the business of President Trump's potential unfitness for office. It occurred to one observer that some mechanism should be devised for distinguishing purely outgrown Constitutional language from alleged violations of currently satisfactory provisions.

The example was to focus on stretching the Supreme Court's invented right of "privacy" into a "right to abortion". From the audience cheers for abortion one suspects this potentially irrelevant issue was introduced in order to strengthen the association. In a normal courtroom this would be the subject of objection and appeal, and designation of having dual purposes would fulfil the same role. President Trump was on the anti-abortion side, but abortion was not on the list of crimes to be voted on by the Senate, therefore was not part of the indictment. Nothing can unsay what has been said, but at least the matter can be listed as potentially having unrelated purposes.

Originally published: Wednesday, December 04, 2019; most-recently modified: Saturday, December 07, 2019