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04-09-1999, 06:36 PM
I once heard that Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying that "Government and the Consitution need to be totally re done every 100 years." First did he say that? Second, it could be possibly a good idea, how does everyone feel about it? Third, Could it actually be done?

04-09-1999, 08:04 PM
Cool, a nice easy question. Let me finish eating my Snickers bar, and I'll dash off a response. ;)

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"I'm not an actor, but I play one on TV."

04-09-1999, 09:44 PM
Well, the thing has been ammended 27 times in the past 212 years. Personally, my only problem with the Constitution involves my neighbor--D.C. The United States is the only democaracy in the world that denies voting representation to residents of the capital city. Argue all you want about whether D.C. should be a state or given back to Maryland, it's been given a raw deal and something ought to be done about it.

Actually, I don't see forsee any particular ammendements getting passed, except perhaps (God forbid!) the flag desecration ammendment. (When will these veterans realize that they fought for this country PRECISELY so that people who hate it can burn the flag in protest? That's what separates us from tyrannies that don't allow political dissent!) If there's ever another fluke that allows the House of Representatives to pick a President who is not the popular vote-winner, (as in the case of John Quincy Adams), or where the electoral collage winner loses the popular vote (as in the case of Benjamin Harrison), there will probably be a movement to reform the way we elect our Presidents.

04-10-1999, 08:02 AM
I would guess if there is a convention called to rewrite the constitution it will be over abortion or gun control. These two issues have partisans on both sides of the argument and are based on interpretations of the current language of the constitution. I could see advocates on either side of either issue wanted the constitution rewritten to explicitly support their position.

04-10-1999, 08:42 AM
Rewriting the constitution would be incongruous assembled.

04-10-1999, 09:02 AM
Although many people feel very passionate about abortion, I would be extremely surprised if there was enough support in three-fourths of the state legislatures to get an ammendment passed--either a pro-life ammendment prohibiting it or a pro-choice ammendment enshrining Roe vs. Wade.

Since, as Cecil has pointed out in Triumph of the Straight Dope, the Second Ammendment already guarantees the right to bear arms, the only ammendment movement would be by gun control advocates seeking to repeal it. Few gun-control advocates favor doing that, and even if they did, I doubt it would garner that much support.

However, a flag desecration ammendment has dangerously come close to passing the U.S. Congress and going to the states for ratification. I have the utmost respect for veterans who put their lives on the line for this country, but it scares me that many of them believe that a piece of cloth is more important than the freedom that that piece of cloth represents.

04-10-1999, 05:06 PM
Since, as Cecil has pointed out in Triumph of the Straight Dope, the Second Ammendment already guarantees the right to bear arms, the only ammendment movement would be by gun control advocates seeking to repeal it. Few gun-control advocates favor doing that, and even if they did, I doubt it would garner that much support.

The current language of the second amendment is "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

There are people who feel there is some ambiguity in this statement because of the militia reference. I'm sure most gun control
opponents would be happier if the amendment simply read "There will be no law infringing the right of individual persons to keep and bear arms." On the other hand, gun control advocates would be happy either seeing the amenedment eliminated in its entirity or rewritten as "The right of a well regulated militia to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

04-10-1999, 05:15 PM
Edward Cunningham has made two references to veterans being a main force pushing for a anti-desecration amendment. Is this true? I've always been under the impression that most of these "super patriot" issues are pushed by non-veterans. In my observation, most veterans know they have done their part to protect this country and don't feel the need to promote extreme causes to prove themselves.

04-10-1999, 09:21 PM
>>I once heard that Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying that "Government and the Consitution need to be totally re done every 100 years." >>

If you do not apply his "tree of liberty" quote here, Jefferson's two most famous post-Revolution quotes on the subject of resistance to/rebelling against government are as follows:

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not at all"
---Feb. 22, 1787 (letter)

"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."
---Jan. 30, 1787 (referring specifically to Shay's Rebellion)

04-10-1999, 09:33 PM
Just to show that no one is above hypocracy it's interesting to note that Jefferson made all these radical pronouncements BEFORE he became part of the Federal Government. Once he joined Washington's cabinet he kept his opinions inside the cabnet room. During his brief time in the political wilderness he was espousing his usual revolutionary retoric. His enthusiasm for revolution was again subdued when he went to the White House in 1801.

04-10-1999, 10:34 PM
CKDextrHavn: Rewriting the constitution would be incongruous assembled.
No, no, Dex, that would be if they decided to declare their ten dependents.

04-10-1999, 10:37 PM
I'm sure that there are non-veterans groups that also (wrongfully) support a flag desecration ammendment, but I know that at least one veterans' group-the American Legion- supports such an ammendment. I have also got the impression from op-ed articles that one of the reasons politicians are pushing this ammendment is to appease veterans groups.

If anybody knows of a veterans group that opposes this ammendment, please let me know and I will withdraw my earlier statement.

04-10-1999, 10:53 PM
Whatever Ron Kovic's group of Vietnam vets is called, I bet they're against any flag-desecration amendment.

04-11-1999, 02:22 AM
>>Just to show that no one is above hypocracy it's interesting to note that Jefferson made all these radical pronouncements BEFORE he became part of the Federal Government.>>

Hypocritical though he may have been, it should be pointed out that Jefferson was serving as the Minister to France when he made both of these statements. After the Revolution he served as a delegate to the Continental Congress, served with Franklin and Adams as delegates to Paris to negotiate trade treaties, and then served as Minister to France from 1785-1789 before joining Washington's cabinet.

>> Once he joined Washington's cabinet he kept his opinions inside the cabnet room. During his brief time in the political wilderness he was espousing his usual revolutionary retoric. His enthusiasm for revolution was again subdued when he went to the White House in 1801>>

It was certainly subdued when it came to his first Vice President.

04-11-1999, 02:48 AM
[[Edward Cunningham has made two references to veterans being a main force pushing for a anti-desecration amendment. Is this true? I've always been under the impression that most of these "super patriot" issues are pushed by non-veterans. In my observation, most veterans know they have done their part to protect this country and don't feel the need to promote extreme causes to prove themselves. ]]


I don't know about the balance of veterans' opinions, but it's an issue like the death penalty, more valuable to some politicians as an issue than as a reality.

04-13-1999, 12:00 AM
tplank, now for the next part of your test. Let's say the 2nd Amendment is repealed without a successor. Let's say Natural Rights manage a successful comeback, and our federal lawmakers decide not to try to restrict gun ownership. What happens if those pesky little states start trying to limit or end gun ownership?
(BTW, lovely summary of the old school view of rights.)

04-13-1999, 01:55 AM
Finally, a topic right down my alley!

On repealing the second amendment and gun control:

I have not read Cecil's proclamation on the subject, but, if he in fact said that all you had to do was repeal the Second Amendment, then you could legal control guns, then he should do some more research. While superficially, that might appear true, scholars would definitely argue the point.

If you read the history of the Constitution ratification debate, you'll discover there were two important schools of thought on the utility of the Bill of Rights. One school was steadfastly opposed to adopting the Bill of Rights because of the exact concern raised by the position attributed to Cecil. They were concerned that the Bill of Rights would be looked at as a rights limiting device.

Let me 'splain. If you look at the political thought prevailing at the time and that which most of the founders endorsed in one form or another, it was rooted in Natural Rights. We could have a whole 'nother thread dedicated to what Natural Rights means, but, in general it is taken by most to mean that Human Beings have inherent Rights that arise from simply being, No government imparts those rights, rather, they simply exist and belong to everybody. That is where the phrase "endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights" arises from. Lets gloss over Natural Rights vs. Inalienable Rights and treat them as more or less the same.

Government was viewed as usurping those rights from time immemorial with a monarch parceling out rights as he/she chose. The Magna Carta started the ball rolling, and the new Republic would approach rights differently. The new Constitution was viewed as something of a social contract. People (actually States, but lets keep this short) gave up certain limited rights in exchange for the benefits of a common government. Thus, "We the People". We the People were highly suspicious of the new government so they also sought to "secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity". You can see right from the Pre-amble that the Constitution was meant to be a government limiting instrument. The powers given over by the people were viewed as very limited in scope.

The other school of thought was that the Bill of Rights was necessary because they wanted all the rights to be explicit. They thought of each right in the bill in very expansive terms and gave them additional assurance that the new government would trample those rights. That makes the whole argument about right to bear arms only in the context of militia almost hilarious if it were not so dangerous.

If you look at things the way they were designed, it becomes obvious that the only way to legally control guns is to amend the constitution to allow it. We would probably repeal the 2nd Amendment for clarity's sake and replace it with whatever non-sense the misguided gun nazis want.

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The Trustworthy Troglodyte

04-13-1999, 02:46 PM
If Natural Rights ever makes a "comeback" (of course it never really went anywhere) then the states wouldn't try to limit gun ownership.

But, to answer your question, the States are sovereign too and rest on their individual constitutions. So the analysis would inevitably be state by state. Most state constitutions would have to be amended, I am sure, to allow for gun control.

Don't get me wrong. I'm talking about sound law not reality. In reality, most of the laws on the books are unconstitutional, but we have allowed it because of our collective ignorance. I'm sure there are enough gun-Nazis in Pennsylvania, for instance, to get a law on the books that would never be challenged.

As always, it is up to us to protect our rights.

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The Trustworthy Troglodyte

04-13-1999, 04:29 PM
Thanks. The reason I described natural rights as needing a comeback is that it seems several of our Supreme Court justices prefer the view that we only have rights found in the Bill of Rights.
It'll be quite a day when law begins to match reality.

04-13-1999, 06:13 PM
Alas, nobody seems to care about civil rights anymore. We are having our rights eroded daily by the morons in Washington DC, and no one seems to care.

America shrugged, indeed.

... I may move to New Zealand yet.

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The Trustworthy Troglodyte

04-13-1999, 06:22 PM
[[I have not read Cecil's proclamation on the subject, but, if he in fact said that all you had to do was repeal the Second Amendment, then you could legal control guns, then he should do some more research. While superficially, that might appear true, scholars would definitely argue the point.]]


I really rather doubt that, as a general principle. While government actions affecting guns and gun owners would still be subject to checks such as due process and equal protection, such a repeal would completely eviscerate any plausible argument that guns could not be banned outright for private citizens. However, I will try to keep an open mind about the subject.

[[If you read the history of the Constitution ratification debate, you'll discover there were two important schools of thought on the utility of the Bill of Rights. One school was steadfastly opposed to adopting the Bill of Rights because of the exact concern raised by the position attributed to Cecil. They were concerned that the Bill of Rights would be looked at as a rights limiting device.

Let me 'splain. If you look at the political thought prevailing at the time and that which most of the founders endorsed in one form or another, it was rooted in Natural Rights. We could have a whole 'nother thread dedicated to what Natural Rights means, but, in general it is taken by most to mean that Human Beings have inherent Rights that arise from simply being, No government imparts those rights, rather, they simply exist and belong to everybody. That is where the phrase "endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights" arises from. Lets gloss over Natural Rights vs. Inalienable Rights and treat them as more or less the same.

Government was viewed as usurping those rights from time immemorial with a monarch parceling out rights as he/she chose. The Magna Carta started the ball rolling, and the new Republic would approach rights differently. The new Constitution was viewed as something of a social contract. People (actually States, but lets keep this short) gave up certain limited rights in exchange for the benefits of a common government. Thus, "We the People". We the People were highly suspicious of the new government so they also sought to "secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity". You can see right from the Pre-amble that the Constitution was meant to be a government limiting instrument. The powers given over by the people were viewed as very limited in scope.]]

So far you ain't giving me much confidence.

[[The other school of thought was that the Bill of Rights was necessary because they wanted all the rights to be explicit.]]


Something like that.


[[ They thought of each right in the bill in very expansive terms and gave them additional assurance that the new government would trample those rights. That makes the whole argument about right to bear arms only in the context of militia almost hilarious if it were not so dangerous.]]

Soemthing like that -- I mean, it's not like it's a core legal principle to try to read a document so that all the parts have meaning (note: sarcasm involved here). However, I do believe that the 2d Amendment grants rights beyond simply those related to state militias.


[[If you look at things the way they were designed, it becomes obvious that the only way to legally control guns is to amend the constitution to allow it.]]


Absolutely wrong -- both in principle and, moreover, in terms of settled legal doctrine.


[[ We would probably repeal the 2nd Amendment for clarity's sake and replace it with whatever non-sense the misguided gun nazis want.]]


Yup, honest people who are appalled by gun violence are just a bunch of Nazis.

04-13-1999, 06:24 PM
[[Don't get me wrong. I'm talking about sound law not reality. In reality, most of the laws on the books are unconstitutional, but we have allowed it because of our collective ignorance. ]]


Say what? Most? Including state laws?

04-13-1999, 07:00 PM
Sorry Big Iron. You are dealing with a libertarian here. You see, I disagree with the Supreme Court. I understand very well that "settled legal principals" are contrary to the viewpoint of the founders.

I might add that I purposely was avoiding dotting all the legal 'i's - this is the Straight Dope not Law Review. Feel free to explain it better in a managable post. I'll bet you and I are the only ones who read it ;-)

I was using a little sarcasm myself with gun nazis. I know some quasi-libertarians that are pro-contol because of basic concerns. I do think the big players in the debate are more interested in control than solving the problem, however.

Back to the subject: I think that settled legal principals ran off the rails back in the early days of Judicial activisim. A bunch of boobs in black robes have decided that they decide what our rights are. Regulation of Commerce has been used to justify just about anything the government might seek to do. They were wrong then and now.

But it doesn't matter anyway Iron. Nobody cares.

Does anybody have any good tips on New Zealand real estate?

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The Trustworthy Troglodyte

04-13-1999, 07:05 PM
Oops. I forgot. The 2nd Amendment doesn't "grant" rights. It prevents the federales from violating those rights.

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The Trustworthy Troglodyte

04-14-1999, 02:24 AM
[[Sorry Big Iron. You are dealing with a libertarian here.]]plank


Don't get me started on most of you guys, wolves in sheeps' clothing.


[[ You see, I disagree with the Supreme Court.]]


That's certainly your prerogative, so for now we'll just get jiggy.


[[ I understand very well that "settled legal principals" are contrary to the viewpoint of the founders. ]]

Some are, some aren't, and it is arguable how much we should care about the framers' intent (or was it the ratifiers' intent?) -- especially following the Civil War amendments.


[[I might add that I purposely was avoiding dotting all the legal 'i's - this is the Straight Dope not Law Review.]]


And you think this makes sloppiness permissable absent a good laugh?


[[ Feel free to explain it better in a managable post. I'll bet you and I are the only ones who read it ;-)]]

Ya never know.


[[I was using a little sarcasm myself with gun nazis. I know some quasi-libertarians that are pro-contol because of basic concerns. I do think the big players in the debate are more interested in control than solving the problem, however.]]

LIke the death penalty and affirmative action and school prayer, gun control is an issue that a lot of politicians prefer to have as an issue than as a reality.


[[Back to the subject: I think that settled legal principals ran off the rails back in the early days of Judicial activisim. A bunch of boobs in black robes have decided that they decide what our rights are.]]


Within limits, of course -- are you suggesting that judicial review itself in illegitimate?


[[ Regulation of Commerce has been used to justify just about anything the government might seek to do. They were wrong then and now.]]

That's a reasonable view -- but a little besides the point in many ways, too.

04-14-1999, 02:27 AM
[[Oops. I forgot. The 2nd Amendment doesn't "grant" rights. It prevents the federales from violating those rights.]]


Yeah, I know what you mean, but that's slicing it mighty thin. After all, what are rights without remedies?

04-14-1999, 09:44 AM
Given that the United States were formed by armed revolt, and given that this revolt was made possible in part by an armed public...it stands to reason that the framers of the Constitution (being part of this armed public, and wary that such an action might be necessary in the future) would want the public to continue to be both well-informed and well-armed.

Is gun control bad? In theory, no. Will I allow the government to take away a tool I use to protect myself? Over my cold, dead body. The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed...does not say anything about keeping tabs on who has what.

As to state laws being unconstitutional: Were it not for a single ruling according a single sentance in the 14th (or 16th, don't remember which offhand) amendment, the Supreme Court would continue to have nothing to say about whether state rulings are unconstitutional. The Constitution originally was a document whereby the People and States limited the National Government. Now, it's used by the National Government to limit the People and States (not always, but increasingly so).

Does the government have the right to do this? It's been happening for several decades...and until enough people stand up and say no, then it will continue happening, because by silence in the matter, you cast a silent yes vote.

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Naggy

"I am an Anarchist. The reason I don't promote Anarchy is because I don't trust you idiots." -anon

04-14-1999, 10:41 AM
Iron, I'm eager to hear you correct my "sloppiness". Feel free to invalidate my points with superior reasoning and analysis. Your comebacks are clever, but where is the beef?

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The Trustworthy Troglodyte

04-14-1999, 11:00 AM
Tplank did say: "I was using a little sarcasm myself with gun nazis."

Well then stop doing it. It is deeply insulting. I know the Rush Limbaugh crowd think they're being clever--anyone who disagrees is automatically labeled "a nazi", but all you are doing is alienating the people you are supposedly trying to get to agree with you.

My mother grew up in Germany, in a strictly anti-Nazi family, and they barely got out alive in 1938. She is also pro-gun control. You may call her a "nazi"--even claim it is only in jest--at your own risk.

04-14-1999, 12:13 PM
[[As to state laws being unconstitutional: Were it not for a single ruling according a single sentance in the 14th (or 16th, don't remember which offhand) amendment, the Supreme Court would continue to have nothing to say about whether state rulings are unconstitutional.]] Naggy


It's the 14th, and there are a couple of potential sources of "incorporation." Moreover, one cannot overstate the significance of the Civil War amendments (13-15)on the relationship between the federal and state government.

[[ The Constitution originally was a document whereby the People and States limited the National Government. Now, it's used by the National Government to limit the People and States (not always, but increasingly so). ]]


Thaty's because of those pesky Civil War amendments, of course, which made the "original" intent pretty meaningless in that regard. Oh, and it protects people, it doesn't "limit" them in any way.


[[Does the government have the right to do this? It's been happening for several decades...and until enough people stand up and say no, then it will continue happening, because by silence in the matter, you cast a silent yes vote.]]


According to the Supreme Court, of course, yes it does. Moreover, this is how most Americans want it. If the Supreme Court was to reverse itself and declare that the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to the states, the constitution would be amended pronto to make sure that it does.

04-14-1999, 12:18 PM
[[Iron, I'm eager to hear you correct my "sloppiness". Feel free to invalidate my points with superior reasoning and analysis. Your comebacks are clever, but where is the beef?]]


I've been doing that, Plankster, but, as they say, you can't make chicken salad out of chickenshit. Make a specific assertion (not an overwrought general lamentation) and I'll provide a specific response. For now, I feel very comfortable with my responses to what few legitimate points you have raised. Or don't you feel that the Civil War had a profound effect on the relationship between the states and the federal government?

04-15-1999, 01:05 AM
That's because of those pesky Civil War amendments, of course, which made the "original" intent pretty meaningless in that regard. Oh, and it protects people, it doesn't "limit" them in any way.

Matter of looking at them. I agree, they do force the States to play by the same rules as the National government, which means they can't restrict free speech either (or the rest of the Bill of Rights). On the other hand, I'd say that a lot of legal wrangling that has rested on the 14th Amendments wording has actually restricted People/States.

The Civil War amendments radically changed the function of the Constitution. My personal opinion favors the original function of the Constitution (States defining powers of National government) to the current one (Constitution defining powers of both National and State government).

According to the Supreme Court, of course, yes it does. Moreover, this is how most Americans want it. If the Supreme Court was to reverse itself and declare that the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to the states, the constitution would be amended pronto to make sure that it does.

Again, agreed. Realistically, State constitutions should define the relationship between the States and People, wherease the U.S. Constitution should define the relationship between the Nation and the States/People. It makes the State governments more flexible and more tailored to how the locals want it.

Thus the argument from an Anarchist, who agrees with the principle that the best government is one that governs least. This argument can go around in circles forever...I think it boils down to we prefer different things.

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Naggy

"I am an Anarchist. The reason I don't promote Anarchy is because I don't trust you idiots." -anon

04-15-1999, 01:11 AM
RE: flag desecration

I'm a vet. I'm not a member of ANY veteran's organizaton. As far as I'm concerned the flag is just a piece of cloth. I don't worship objects, tho I'm awful fond of my custom built Martin.



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Ranger Jeff
The Idol of American Youth

That would be the easy way, but it wouldn't be ...
The Cowboy Way

04-15-1999, 02:28 AM
[[Thus the argument from an Anarchist, who agrees with the principle that the best government is one that governs least. ]]

Ypu're an anarchist, eh? I cherish doubts.

06-08-1999, 02:18 AM
About the second amendment...

"...the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Arm(ärm) n. 1. A weapon, especially a firearm: troops bearing arms; ICBMs, bombs, and other nuclear arms. Armed arms v. intr. 1. To supply or equip oneself with weaponry.

Aren't we already infringing on citizens' second amendment rights by not allowing ownership of gernades, bazookas, etc?

06-09-1999, 11:50 PM
Given that the United States were formed by armed revolt, and given that this revolt was made possible in part by an armed public... [blah, blah]

Naggy, that's an absurdly narrow point of view. The United States was not "formed by armed revolt", and it foully demeans our national history and character to put it so.

The United States of America was founded by the confluence of the strong desire of the colonists to create a nation unto themselves and a powerful legislative decree. It was not merely a rejection, but an affirmation. Armed conflict played no role, per se, in the founding of the nation.

Your "armed revolt" was a secondary -- and deeply regrettable -- trauma that everyone would have much preferred to avoid. If the British had simply accepted American independence (admittedly an unlikely event), armed conflict would have been completely unnecessary.

What you call armed revolt would more accurately be called national defense. Thus your comments, over-emphasizing as they do the military aspects of protecting our independence, are founded on a badly distorted view of history.

If the redcoats had stayed home, we probably (well, hopefully) wouldn't have anything like the second amendment and this would be a much safer and saner place to live today.

06-10-1999, 12:14 AM
Geetsbone: You're absolutely right, and I for one would be very happy if such precedents could be used to extend the government's authority to restrict gun ownership in the interest of public safety even further.

Unfortunately (in my opinion), it's pretty clear that there's no evading the Second Amendment short of lawfully repealing it. Someday we as a nation might be wise enough to do just that, but I don't see it happening in any of our lifetimes...

06-17-1999, 06:44 PM
The most likely cause of a new constitutional convention would be over the balanced budget amendment. Only one more state needs to pass a call for convention to create a constitutional convention in order to consider a balanced budget amendment, and, constitutionally, one would have to be called. But there's nothing in the constitution that says, once a convention is called to focus on one amendment, that the convention won't just run amok and start passing all kinds of amendments. Remember the Articles of Confederation? The Constitutional Convention was supposed to just tweak those, not throw out the whole form of government!

06-17-1999, 11:26 PM
Drifting away from the second amendment a little, but staying with the original topic, I think the danger is always that Congress will pass some silly and impractical amendment - like the flag burning thing - in order to score points with their constituencies while all the time expecting it to fail in the state legislatures. The trouble is, the states may not cooperate. I half suspect that this is how we got Prohibition.

It seems clear that our representatives have few compunctions about passing laws that a child can see are unconstitutional; the expectation is that they will be either vetoed or struck down. But by then the representative will have the vote on their record. They get the best of both worlds: The vote pleases some demographic, but few others are pissed off because it failed to ever take effect. I'm speaking generally here, I'm sure you can all come up with your own examples of this happening.

The trouble with constitutional amendments is that they can't be struck down by a supreme court that is (more-or-less) insulated from the political winds of the moment. And then we have to live with them, no matter how ridiculous. I don't think the Founders anticipated just how irresponsible and opportunistic Congress could become.

06-18-1999, 09:46 AM
APB9999 (Cecil in sheep's clothing?) said:
--
It seems clear that our representatives have few compunctions about passing laws that a child can see are unconstitutional; the expectation is that they will be either vetoed or struck down.
--

And this is a real problem here. The founders created a lot of fine ethical principles in the Constitution, but didn't create a very clear way for them to enforce themselves. So the constitution says "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech...", but it doesn't say what to do if Congress makes a law that does just that. Judicial review was later created for thet purpose, but politicians seem to have taken it too far. Though every member of Congress and the President have to vow to defend the Constitution, many still act like it's the Supreme Court's job, not theirs. If there were a significant change to the Constitution, I would hold individual members of Congress responsible for voting for laws which violate the constitution. If the Supreme Court holds that the law is unconstitutional, the law's drafter is impeached. How ya like them apples?

As for tplank's argument about the Bill of Rights being a limiting device, I agree completely, but come on! Don't underestimate the lust for more power among those who have a taste. The current state of our government is clearly run on the principle that the Federal government can regulate anything it wants, so long as the Supreme Court doesn't strike down its power due to a specific part of the Bill of Rights. (Yes, this is in violation of the 10th amendment.) I don't see a drug war, environmental concerns, or income redistribution listed as ennumerated powers, but that doesn't convince Washington that these are not in their purvue.

So, in finally shutting up, I'll say we have a constitution based on a minimal federal gov, and a voting populace who are unfortunately quite permissive of a maximal federal gov. Until that's resolved, we'll continue to have these struggles in congress between defending the Constituion, and getting reelected.

-Quadell

06-18-1999, 03:00 PM
Quadell, you flatterer!

I have a question that would take too much research for my limited skills to perform. If one were to look at all the laws struck down by the supreme court as unconstitutional since 1787, how many were found to be flawed because they violated the Bill of Rights (am. I-X) specifically? What is the percentage? More to the point, have there been any trends in that percentage over time? My gut feeling is that the BoR is being called on more than ever before to check the government's tendency to overstep itself. But how do you measure that? I think these statistics would be a good guidepost. The expectation is that the percentage would be rising, probably at an ever-increasing rate. Can anyone here find out?

06-18-1999, 03:08 PM
Geetsbone, reread the Second:

"...the right of the people to keep and bear arms..."

The understanding has always been arm[ament]s that a person could bear, and not engines of war such as bombs, mortars or artillery pieces.

In the modern context, grenade launchers (essentially a bomb-thrower), missile launchers and machineguns (the most often incorrectly defined class of weapon by the gun-control groups) are what the military consider as "crew-served weapons", and are not arm[ament]s that a person can bear.
As such, those types of weapons are not constitutionally protected by the Second Amendment, and are illegal for private citizens to have in their possession or own.
Clinton's Assault Weapon Ban is up for challenge, as U.S. v. Miller ruled that those arm[ament]s that can be shown to have
"...some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia,..." are within the realm of the right to keep and bear.

<FONT COLOR="GREEN">ExTank</FONT>