Off-Topic: A U.S. Constitutional Amendment Wish List

Off-Topic: A U.S. Constitutional Amendment Wish List February 4, 2016

All the presidential primary debates, primaries, and causes got me thinking about the U.S. Electoral College, which in turn got me thinking about changes I’d like to see made to the Constitution.

1. Eliminate Lifetime Supreme Court Appointments. See, for example, here. Instead, have Supreme Court justices get, say, 20-year terms after which they are ineligible to ever serve on the SC again.

2. Repeal Citizens United Supreme Court Decision.

3. Single Subject Rule.

4. Prohibit states from consistently getting unfair advantage in every presidential election. I am well aware of the historical circumstances that led to the status quo and I have nothing against the great people of Iowa and New Hampshire, but they shouldn’t get to have a special role in affecting presidential elections. It’s unfair to the other 48 states. Solutions:  (a) Require that presidential primaries/caucuses occur in all states on the same day; or (b) setup a rotation on which states get to go first. I don’t have a preference; either option would be fine with me.

5. National Popular Vote. Let’s abolish the stupid, antiquated Electoral College. Since passing constitutional amendments is so difficult, it’s fortunate that there is a clever, constitutional way to abolish the electoral college without an amendment.

6. Continuity of Government. In a post 9/11 world, this seems like a no-brainer to me. See the discussion here.

7. Balanced Budget Amendment.

8. Line-Item Veto.

9. Empower Congress to remove a sitting, non-criminal, but incompetent president through a 2/3 vote of no confidence. I owe this idea to this outstanding book.

10. Declaration of War. I’m very familiar with the War Powers Resolution. I am also familiar with what we’ve done in practice for the last 50 years. What is baffling to me is how people who are strict originalists about the Constitution seem to forget their originalism when it comes to Article I, Section 8’s rule that only Congress has the power to declare war. If that’s true, then what was the constitutional basis for most of our military actions in the last 50 years, including but not limited to Iraq and Afghanistan? The irony is that if we wanted to amend the constitution to require that Congress actually declare war, we’d end up writing an amendment which says what Article I, Section 8 already says. That should tell you something about the unconstitutionality of our actions.

11. Abolish the “natural-born citizen” requirement for the PresidencyIf a majority of the electoral college (or a majority of Americans if we ever get NPV) want to elect someone who wasn’t a “natural-born citizen” (whatever that means), then it seems pretty stupid in the year 2016 to arbitrarily block it based on the location of one’s birthplace.

(Aside: according to this article, Ted Cruz is ineligible to be President. I love the delicious irony! He can run as an originalist only by rejecting originalism regarding his eligibility!  For the record, I don’t know if Ted Cruz is eligible to run for President or not, but, if not, he should be.)

12. Ban Gerrymandering of Congressional Districts. Voters get to choose their politicians in general, but every decade the politicians get to choose their voters. This makes no sense.

13. Implement Instant Run-Off Voting for Federal Elections.

14. Eliminate Birthplace Citizenship. The United States of American is one of the few countries on Earth which automatically grants citizenship to anyone born here, regardless of the citizenship status of their parents or how long they have maintained residency. This makes no sense. I expect to take a lot of criticism from readers of this blog for this position, but I’m okay with that. Remember the two rules. (1) Jeff is always right. (2) If you disagree, remember rule #1. 😉

15. Somehow fix the stupidity of Wyoming and California each getting the same number of votes in the Senate.

16. Create a new method to allow proposed amendments to the constitution by popular (“grass roots”) effort.

17. Somehow make it easier for the citizens of a state to decide to split their state into two or more states if they desire. Most Americans are probably familiar with the various attempts to split California into two, three, or even six states. But they may not be aware of the numerous other attempts to split other states. For example, rural (and conservative) eastern Washington state would like to split off from urban (and liberal) western Washington state. I’m told a similar sentiment exists in Oregon and for the same reasons. There’s even an entire book which talks about all the failed attempts to split states. In my opinion, if the residents of a state want to split into two or more states, we should somehow make it easier to do that. I’m not sure what that would mean in practice, however.


Finally, this isn’t a proposed constitutional amendment (because it’s not applicable), but I’d like to see Puerto Rico become a state if they want it. (It appears they do want it, although this is disputed.)

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