Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Should Article V of Constitution allow states to start amending Constitution without conventions?; conservatives target 14th, 17th amendments

James Lucas has an interesting op-ed on p B4 of the Monday, Nov. 15 Washington Times, “Return the Constitution to the People: Kill the constitutional convention requirement”, link here.

Lucas is talking about “Method 2” in Article V of the Constitution. Every successful amendment so far has started with the 2/3 majority vote in both House and Senate, and then gone to the states for ratification by ¾ (the state convention method was used only for the 21st Amendment).

But the states can call a convention by the action of the legislatures of at least 2/3 of them. Lucas wants to bypass the “convention” part of it and let 2/3 of state legislatures pass an amendment directly, it seems.

He also talks about what he wants to change. He wants to eliminate Amendment 17 (direct election of Senators), and part of 14 – essentially the citizenship by birth provision (regarding children of illegal immigrants) and probably the incorporation doctrine, applying limitations of the powers of the federal government against citizens to states as well. Second amendment advocates (and that probably includes most conservatives and Tea Party types) generally don’t want states to limit their right to defend themselves, so Lucas sounds inconsistent there. But of course there are other rulings that the incorporation doctrine has supported, such as Lawrence v. Texas (2003) that he may not want.

So Lucas is proposing amending "Article V" with an "amending amendment".

John R. Vile wrote an important book, “Contemporary Questions Surrounding the Constitutional Amending Process” in 1993 (Praeger).

In the first printing of my 1997 “Do Ask Do Tell” book, one of the biggest typos was in Chapter 3, “constitutional conventional” (no “al”). I was talking about calls from the far Left (in the early 1970s, the Nixon years) to call for a constitutional convention to address its indignation. I also somehow misstated the age of the Bill of Rights on the first back cover (first sentence), as it goes back to 1791. It took 18 months for anyone (or me) to notice. (Moral: Never state the age of something on the cover of a book; the time arrow moves forward.)

Picture: The Capitol in August smog (or maybe "The Fog").

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