Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Steven Den Beste's Modest Proposal

How he would amend the constitution.

SDB Amendment 2 is an improved wording of the US Constitution's Amendment 2.

SDB Amendment 3 is silly: "Hanging as a form of capital punishment is permitted under the Constitution of the United States, provisions of Amendment Eight notwithstanding." It was a standard form of execution at the time of the Founders - and at the hands of Washington's army. Better to clarify the meaning of "cruel and unusual."

SDB Amendment 4 needs amending: "No court in the United States shall be guided by precedents established by courts in other nations or by international tribunals..." English common law (prior to 1776) is a part of our legitimate legal precedent.

SDB Amendment 7 (ban on carbon dioxide taxation) belongs in statute, not the Constitution.

I'm not too keen on SDB Amendment 8: "In lawsuits where lawyers work on contingency, the lawyers collectively may not receive a greater percentage of the award than any single one of the clients they represent." I don't approve of artificial price floors (or price ceilings, for that matter), and to be consistent this should not be spread to the legal profession. I would (via statute) require all lawyers to state their fees up front.

I agree totally with SDB Amendment 9: "It is double jeopardy for a defendant to be criminally tried in both State and Federal court for the same event..." Yes, even if it's OJ.

SDB Amendment 10 is interesting: "Neither the federal government nor any state or locality may pass any law or implement any policy which discriminates against or in favor of any person on the basis of race, gender, or national origin." First, note that this prohibits government discrimination, not private-sector. He either supports the right to private-sector discrimination (perhaps as the logical conclusion of the First Amendment right to assembly), or prefers to deal with it in statute.

That all government discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and national origin bad? I would certainly not want gender-desegregated restrooms at the courthouse next time Dallas County calls me in for jury duty. Immigration law by its nature discriminates against national origin. Can anyone think of other legitimate loopholes for such an amendment?

Tell me relevant would government discrimination be if the federal government hadn't ventured so far out of its constitutional bounds?


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