On 06/03/2012 the “Houston Chronicle” reprinted an op-ed article – by Texas University Professor of Law and Government, Sanford Levinson – headlined: “Blame the U.S. Constitution for dysfunctional government”.
At the time I said: blaming the U.S. Constitution for dysfunctional government is comparable to blaming marriage licenses for dysfunctional marriages. Dysfunction, in both instances, is due to the failure of humans involved dishonoring their: oaths to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. constitution; wedding vows.
I have nothing to offer on dysfunctional marriages. However, elected, appointed and hired federal office-holders should be required to: honor their oaths to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution; be removed from office when they violate their oaths.
Rather than professor Levinson’s suggested amendment to the constitution, use his idea of a national referendum – not on health care reform – to add to the November 2012 ballot a list of proposed amendments for the electorate to vote “yes” or “no”, on each and authorize Congress to proceed with constitutional amendments for those winning a majority of votes.
Following are five proposed amendments to include in the national referendum
No. 1 – Broaden the presidential and congressional oaths to: include military oaths; provide for removal from office of any official violating a constitutional oath.
Broaden the presidential and congressional oaths to include military oaths “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; So help me God. “ and add the statement: “I understand violating this oath will constitute grounds to remove me from office immediately upon determining I violated my oath.”
No. 2 – Subject members of the U.S. Congress to term limits.
All members of the U.S. Congress shall be subject to term limits:
- Members of the House of Representatives shall serve no more than four, two-year terms.
- Members of the Senate shall serve no more than two, six-year terms.
No. 3 – Require Congress to submit a balanced budget each year.
The U.S. Congress, by February 1 of each year, must submit an annual budget that balances income and expenditures for the upcoming Fiscal Year. That budget shall include income from all sources and all expenditures including those now carried “off-the-books” as unfunded liabilities. All legislation must be certified by the CBO as requiring taxes to cover initial and ongoing costs of the legislation. CBO will review each year’s taxes and costs and adjust taxes or benefits to assure they continue in balance.
No. 4 – Assure Congress makes no law applicable to citizens that doesn’t apply equally to Representatives and Senators.
Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States. Specifically, retirement and health care provisions for members of Congress will be based on SSI and Medicare; Congressional pay raises will be based on parameters for increasing SSI benefits.
No. 5 – Require each voter registration applicant to pass a test about the U.S. Constitution, history and economics before qualifying to vote.
The right to vote carries an equal responsibility for each voter to be informed about the U.S. Constitution, history and economics including annual budgets, taxation, deficit spending and the national deficit. A test, in English, will be administered to each voter registration applicant. Applicants must score 70% to qualify to vote in the next election. Those failing can re-apply before the next following election.
More about this proposed amendment – including proposed questions – will appear in a forthcoming article: “U.S. Voters have Rights but Few Responsibilities”.
Unfortunately, my response to Professor Levinson wasn’t published but a 06/11/2012 letter was published – agreeing with UT professor Levinson’s article – and proposed amendments terminating: the Electoral College; second amendment right to bear arms. The writer claimed both are “archaic and outmoded”.
My response took a broader and historical view of opponents to the Constitution. Those who propose to amend the Constitution – adopted two centuries ago when the nation was agrarian before 21st century technology advanced far beyond the vision of the founding fathers – miss a vital point that also eludes critics of the Holy Bible who claim it “outdated”, partly due to “technology”.
The point missed – by critics of both the U.S. Constitution and the Bible – regardless of technological “advances” human nature hasn’t changed. Humans still behave as badly as they did in Old Testament times and in the late 18th century.
Also, Professor Levinson didn’t mention a significant change in tenure of elected U.S. officials. Early Presidents and Congressional members were citizens who served their country for several years then returned home to their livelihoods.
Founding fathers couldn’t envision 20th and 21st century “professional politicians” who have only two obligations: (1) get elected (2) use the power of incumbency to be re-elected. Solution, as proposed earlier, a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on U.S. Representatives and Senators.
The proposal to terminate citizens’ right to bear arms is particularly interesting because it mirrors Sharia law that the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) claims is necessary in the U.S. to guarantee Muslims’ “freedom of religion”. Sharia law denies non-Muslims (infidels) the right to bear arms. If Sharia becomes “the law of the land”, CAIR may find it difficult to confiscate weapons of NRA members.