While our founding fathers intended for the separation of powers to facilitate a slow and thoughtful legislative process, the increasingly partisan atmosphere that’s evolved during recent administrations has become an impediment to passing the reforms our nation desperately needs.
Unfortunately, America is currently faced with a number of serious problems that can only be solved by amending our Constitution, or in the alternative, by passing legislation in a majority of state legislatures designed to have the same effect.
Recognizing the severity of some of these problems, American Millennials supports the following solutions proposed by Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Steven, as well as the organization of state legislators working together to bring about a National Popular Vote for the President of the United States.
Ret. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Steven’s Six Amendments
In his recent book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens made the case for six amendments to the U.S. Constitution which he felt were necessary to promote democracy and rights. Unfortunately, given the sharply-divided nature of contemporary partisan politics, it’s doubtful that any of his suggestions have a realistic chance of being passed in the near future. However, the possibility of passing such amendments a few years from now isn’t beyond the scope of one’s imagination if one considers our nation’s changing demographics, as well as the higher-voter turnout during Presidential election years (such as the upcoming 2016 election).
In his book, Justice Stevens proposed the following amendments:
- The “Anti-Commandeering Rule” (Amend the Supremacy Clause of Article VI) This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges and other public officials in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
- Political Gerrymandering – Districts represented by members of Congress, or by members of any state legislative body, shall be compact and composed of contiguous territory. The state shall have the burden of justifying any departures from this requirement by reference to neutral criteria such as natural, political, or historical boundaries or demographic changes. The interest in enhancing or preserving the political power of the party in control of the state government is not such a neutral criterion.
- Campaign Finance – Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.
- Sovereign Immunity – Neither the Tenth Amendment, the Eleventh Amendment, nor any other provision of this Constitution, shall be construed to provide any state, state agency, or state officer with an immunity from liability for violating any act of Congress, or any provision of this Constitution.
- Death Penalty- (Amend the 8th Amendment) Excessive Bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments such as the death penalty inflicted.
- The Second Amendment – (Amend the 2nd Amendment) A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.
To learn more about Ret. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Steven’s proposed amendments, watch the following PBS News Hour interview with him in April, 2014:
National Popular Vote
Following recent President elections, in which the winners have not always been the Presidential candidate to receive the most votes, it’s become clear that our democracy’s electoral college has become an impediment to fair elections. Consequently, many Americans now support reforming the way in which the President of the United States is elected. While the easiest way to accomplish this goal would be through a constitutional amendment, the fact remains that the legislative obstacles to passing constitutional amendments in the current political environment are simply too great to be considered realistic. That’s why a number of state legislators around the country have gotten behind the National Popular Vote project, which aims to fix the way to elect our president by amending laws on the state level, rather than national level. For an explanation of how our state legislators are reforming the electoral college through the state legislatures, click here or watch the following video: