In America, our legislation process is laid out in the Constitution and for the most part, is fairly simple on the face of it.
I’m not going to go into the procedural issues. I know that legislation has passed the House of Representatives, only to sit on the Senate majority leader’s desk without a vote, and vice versa. I don’t think anyone outside of congress understands all that underlying and overcomplicated nonsense. There’s a good chance most of them prefer that lack of transparency—a problem in its own right.
But once a law does get to a vote, a simple majority of congress people and senators vote, and the majority wins. The exceptions of course being articles of impeachment, amending the Constitution, overriding a veto, suspending congressional rules, or ending a filibuster, which require a supermajority.
On occasion, after a law is passed, it gets constitutionally challenged and ends up in the Supreme Court. Again, a simple majority of the justices determine if the Constitution was violated, then either uphold or strike it accordingly.
While this process seems to make sense at first; being a person who loves thought exercises as I do, I think our Constitution could be better.
We all should understand that the Constitution was intended as a guarantor of our rights, so with the intention of keeping government limited, I feel the founding fathers could have done it better.
My blue sky thinking premise is pretty simple.
Instead of allowing a simple majority to draft laws which grow government, I would require that a two-thirds majority be needed for passage of all laws where a restriction on the people is proposed. Tax increases, regulations on commerce, but a few examples. Only laws which are restrictions on government, such as in the Bill Of Rights, or efforts to strike laws already on the register could be passed with a simple majority.
My reason for this is to make expansion of government incredibly difficult for legislators, by ensuring that the laws they do pass will likely transcend political agendas and are legislation most rational people on the left and the right would agree on. Yet at the same time, it would make it easy for any legislator wearing a their libertarian hat that day to reduce the size and scope of government by simple majority.
But we can take this a step further by foisting this principle on the Supreme Court as well. If SCOTUS agrees to hear a case, before arguments even start, they would have to establish whether the law is a restriction on government or the people. Any law deemed a restriction on the people would be struck down unless a 2/3 majority choose to uphold it. I don’t know that a restriction-on-government law has ever been challenged, but only a simple majority would be needed for such a law to stand.
While I know I write about the Constitution often and hold it in incredibly high regard, I think it’s quite important to understand it was a document written by imperfect men, and more importantly, had little historical evidence to go off of for guidance. As such, our founders had to write it to the best of their abilities, and hope the amendments process would fix any misgivings they may have omitted.
The fact that the 18th amendment was allowed to pass (Alcohol prohibition) is clear proof that a little trial and error was always in play. So while I understand some might think me politically sacrilegious for suggesting a modification to our beloved Constitution, I am not painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa here.
There is a great divide between libertarians like me who propose constitutional amendments from others who would either dismiss the Constitution altogether, or who want to add more restrictions like the reprehensible Defense of Marriage Act, which has no place in a document designed to protect rights. I’m looking to add more teeth to the document, whereas, many Democrats and some Republicans are looking to defang it so that it’s bite no longer restricts their social engineering agenda.
It’s been untouched since 1992, but thanks to a Congress, Senate, and sadly a Supreme Court, who don’t seem too concerned about liberty this days, our Constitution could use a little dose of adrenaline. Our rights are supremely important, and while we would never stand for an elimination of them altogether, the constant erosion of them has been in place for centuries. “We the people” have the power, not government. Let’s help those in Washington who were elected to serve us help them remember that.