June 27th, 2011
10:11 AM ET

Fareed Zakaria and Jeffrey Toobin on updating the U.S. Constitution

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Last week, we brought you the story of Iceland crowd sourcing its new Constitution using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to determine what the Icelandic people want to see in their new, all-powerful document.

So we thought we'd experiment in crowd sourcing some amendments to the American Constitution.

That inspired perhaps the strongest reaction that we have ever gotten here at GPS. Thousands and thousands of e-mails, tweets, Facebook messages and posts on our message board.

About one-third of you thought no revision was necessary and some expressed that opinion rather colorfully, to say the least.

Among the other two-thirds, there were some very popular ideas for amendments. Eliminating the Electoral College was probably on top of the list.

Other popular amendments included a ban on corporate donations in elections and a six-year presidential term with no allowance for reelection.

There were some more controversial ideas: a fat tax on unhealthy food, an upper age limit on elected officials, a ban on discrimination of left-handed people. I wasn't aware that that was a big problem. And my personal favorite was "Limit Zakaria to two stupid comments a month," which I suspect is over already.

Anyway, to dig deeper on this, the legalities of amending the Constitution and whether or not it's really feasible, I spoke to Jeffrey Toobin, CNN Senior Legal Analyst.

Here's a transcript of our chat:

Fareed Zakaria: Jeff, we're unusual as a country, we're a very young country, but we have a very old Constitution.  If you think about it, our Constitution and our political system is older than every European country.

Jeffrey Toobin: We have the oldest written Constitution of any democracy in the world. And it's only been amended 27 times and it stood us in very good stead, but I think, you know, it is not sacrosanct and it is a good idea to think about what shouldn't have been done in the first place and how you can improve it.

The German Constitution is apparently very similar to the American one, but it's sort of more modern and more streamlined. It doesn't have some of the kinks - for example, people point out that the Second Amendment is a grammatical mess, whatever you may think of the right to bear arms.

Nearly incomprehensible as a sentence, yes.

So are there things that constitutional scholars look at and say, "These have been problems for 222 years."

Well, certainly when it comes to the American Constitution, the two biggest controversies have always been in terms of the structure of the document, the Electoral College and the Senate, both of which give powers to states as states as opposed to individuals.

The issue with the Senate, of course, is that you end up giving Wyoming's...

Four hundred thousand people - I just did the math. Wyoming has 400,000 people and two senators and California has 36 million people and two senators. It is hard to justify that.

And the justification for that and for the Electoral College was, as you said, that states as states have some kind of inherent quality that deserves representation. And maybe that was true in the 18th Century, but today, you drive from one state to another and it's very difficult to see why they should have political rights as states.

Right, and particularly small states. Even at the very beginning, the concern was at the time of the framing of the Constitution that New York and Virginia and Massachusetts, which were the big states, would overwhelm the smaller states. It's very hard to see how that applies today, particularly when it comes to the Electoral College.

Now, the argument in favor of the Electoral College, it used to be that it gives small states a certain amount of power. When was the last time you saw a presidential candidate campaign in Wyoming or in Vermont or in Delaware? You know, we decide presidential elections in about four or five states. You know, Ohio, Florida, a few other states in the Midwest, and that's it. All the rest of the states are completely irrelevant, including the small states.

There was no real conceivable way in which that could change?

I think the Electoral College, there is a conceivable way it will change because it really is very hard to justify this crazy system where people in New York, in California, in Texas, are essentially irrelevant throughout all presidential campaigns except as fundraising sources.

It's just the way contemporary American politics is. New York and California are overwhelmingly democratic states. No Republican is going to waste time campaigning there. Texas is a Republican state. So these states are ignored.

And there are millions and millions of voters in these states who get no attention and it really does affect our politics - the substance of our politics, as well. For decades, we subsidized ethanol in Iowa because Iowa, where they grow a lot of corn, was such an important presidential state. So this has substantive impact as well as just sort of a political science impact.

Would it be fair to say that our Senate is probably the most unrepresentative upper House of the advanced democracies with the possible exception of Britain's House of Lords?

Well, actually, Britain, ever since Tony Blair is much more representative. Tony Blair got rid of the hereditary peers, whereas we still have this ludicrous disproportion in terms of small states and big states having the same number of senators. So I think we're actually worse than the House of Lords.

And it's interesting. You know, I taught briefly and one of the things I taught was a class on the American Constitution and the debates that came out of the American Constitution, which went on for 200 years to the present. And America is unique in that it is founded not on blood and soil nationalism, but on political ideas and the Constitution is the heart of that, and that's why I think people are so sensitive to the idea of changing it.

People are so sensitive, but - and, you know, no one has greater reverence for it than do - it is worth remembering that in 1787, this wonderful convocation that we celebrate, they also enshrined slavery. And for it took 100 years and a Civil War to get rid of that in the Constitution with the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. And then it took another 100 years for those amendments to mean anything.

In the 1860s, they said black people could vote, but no black people voted until the 1960s when Lyndon Johnson got the Voting Rights Act passed.

So, yes, the Constitution is a wonderful document - but infallible, it never was and it still isn't.

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Topics: From Fareed • GPS Show

soundoff (215 Responses)
  1. Sarah

    My oh my, what a special little article. In regards to your question concerning the last presidential campaign with roots in a flyover state like WY...ever heard of a guy named Cheney? Also, you may want to brush up on your math skills...WY has a few hundred thousand more than 400,000 residents. Truth is the trophy states like CA and NY are failures and silencing the voice of successful and self-reliant states like Vermont, Delaware and Wyoming works in your favor to advance your liberal agenda. Little states like ours are in the black, while the states held so highly are deafened by their death rattles. I have lived in both CA and NY and I can tell you that they are anomalies and truthfully the nation would be better off if they simply exited stage left and formed their own sovereign nations. They might need to borrow some money from the profitable states, but it could be done.
    Freedom is something these "little states" like VT, DE and WY hold dear. To those who seek to dominate and control and further the USSA agenda, we are a venom. These states are the few who actually protect and treasure freedom in an innocent way; the few states that still have representatives who actually represent and walk amongst and are accountable to their citizens. I've seen CA and NY representatives and I wasn't dazzled by their smoke and mirrors. If a representative in WY commandeered a military chopper for a personal dinner excursion at the expense of taxpayers, they would be run out of town. In CA, they are promoted to a higher seat of power. In WY we have jobs, income, natural resources, accountability, freedom, peace, innovation and tranquility. Other states in the red could learn a lesson or two. Perhaps, to preserve our freedom, liberty and tranquility, it is best to keep ignoring us, chalking us up as irrelevant, backwards hillbillies so we can continue laughing at your "sophistication" and pretend to be amused.

    July 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  2. Sarah

    One little tidbit to add...Wyoming doesn't ask for Federal money to survive and values its independence and sovereignty. It has been a leader, not a follower. For example, WY was the first state to give women the right to vote...hence the Equality State. NY wasn't the first and neither was CA. The Federal government, instead of learning from, has targeted those states in the black who have refused to become dependent on Federal dollars. They want a dependence, like a pimp to a poor frightened young girl, so that they can dictate the terms of the relationship. State sovereignty is the basis of this nation and the fear of a Federal government wielding too much power was THE concern of the founding fathers. That is why WY doesn't talk about the constitution but lives it. We have tremendous freedom, especially as pertains to the first and second amendments and we do not abuse it.

    Using the pretense of updating the constitution is a thin veil to the ultimate aim of a power grab. Not all of us will be broken by a pimp in hope of a shiny quarter. The Republicans and Democrats in WY all share this value, no matter political differences. Freedom is something, once tasted in its purist form, is the one thing worth defending and honoring.

    July 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  3. Jessi

    When I read this article I can honestly say that I had very little understanding of what either the author, his literary guest, or many of the responders had to say. However, this inspired me to look up every unknown term, event, idea within the text. Then this led me on to further inspiration. My students (I teach high school kids) always fight against my statement that if I set a newspaper in front of them, they would not have a clue as to what they were reading. I then sat a newspaper in front of them, proved my point, and they said "we won't understand this ever anyway." This article approaches extremely important topics whether you agree or disagree. The fact that we can have these discussions is amazing. I plan to bring this article into the classroom and assign my students to dissect it until they understand it. The fact is, the careless "I don't care" kids that I am teaching now are the ones who will actually be able to make the changes whether they are necessary now or in the future, but the problem is – they do not understand anything about what they would have to make decisions upon. I teach students fresh out of Civics and they cannot explain how the Electoral College works for a piece of candy (which in high school is quiet the incentive). How are these students suppose to decide the future of America? I appreciate this article because it touches on a subject that we are all aware of: the Constitution; however, it also touches on a great deal of information that the average high school graduate is not going to understand. Therefore, this article becomes an excellent example of how, while the essential problem may be understood, the solution is alien to average American.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:20 am | Reply
  4. istevensblog

    Dear Mr Zakaria, I've scanned through many of the responses and there are wonderful ideas about amending the constitution. But I have a simple question: Do the american people trust their representatives enough to open up the constitution for amending?

    No matter how good the ideas, the current polarized political climate and the significant lobby influence in Washington makes one wonder if certain unwanted amendments would be added despite public protest. In such a climate of public distrust, perhaps the only way to amend the Constitution is via a national referendum. Best Regards, Steven

    July 6, 2011 at 12:48 am | Reply
  5. rex edie

    maybe the system would work as it was designed.... if certain groups had not removed the checks and balances and oversights that control the banking....monetary ...and investment groups..
    also... the criminal lobbyists.... lobbying was a tool for communities needs to be heard and represented in government

    not for corporate private interests to steal the country away from the "PEOPLE"

    July 6, 2011 at 4:56 am | Reply
  6. TXJack

    @Mike
    So what is your problem with the 2nd Amendment?
    The right to legally bare and possess arms.
    Well let’s see the majority of all violent crimes are committed by people who have illegal weapons.
    Look at the number of people who have legal weapons that shot a thief in their store or intruder in their home in Texas. God Bless America.

    July 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  7. TXJack

    Also I say get rid of the Electoral College.
    All it is, is a venue for lobbyist and favoritism.
    We are about the only country in the world that uses that system.

    I say do a popular vote like for local politicians and the rest of the world

    July 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  8. Anonymous P@TRI0T (S3kshuN8)

    dinner time, then Article III review... :)

    July 6, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Reply
  9. Anonymous P@TRI0T (S3kshuN8)

    ~Article III – The Judicial Branch Note
    Section 1 – Judicial powers
    ~!
    The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the_SUPREME_COURT_(NOT Congress)_ may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the Supreme and_lesser_Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
    ~!!
    Section 2 – Trial by Jury, Original Jurisdiction, Jury Trials
    ~
    ~HREF~Amendment 11~~(cutCOPYpaste)~
    (This section in parentheses is modified by the 11th Amendment.)
    Amendment 11 – Judicial Limits. Ratified 2/7/1795. Note History
    ~
    The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
    ~!!!!!!!!!!!~
    In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State_AND/OR CORPORATION_ shall be Party, the Supreme Court shall have_Primary_Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
    ~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~
    The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
    ~
    Section 3 – Treason Note
    ~
    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
    ~?wtph??
    The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
    ~??[(Why is this here? What Purpose did/does it serve?)]????~
    --------––
    fit to print !

    July 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  10. Anonymous P@TRI0T (S3kshuN8)

    Article IV – The States
    Section 1 – Each State to Honor all others
    ~
    Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
    ~
    Section 2 – State citizens, Extradition
    ~
    The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
    ~
    A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
    ~
    (No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.) (This clause in parentheses is superseded by the 13th Amendment.)
    ~~HREF~~~Amendment 13 – Slavery Abolished. Ratified 12/6/1865. History
    1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCepT AS a Punishment for Crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
    2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    ~~~~~~~
    Section 3 – New States
    ~
    New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
    ~
    The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
    ~
    Section 4 – 'Republican G0vernment'
    ~UNMODIFIED HERE~
    The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
    ~MODIFIED here~
    The United States shall Guarantee to every State in this Union a__Democratic_Republic__Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; AND against domestic Violence [(RESOLVED:Executive;Judicial;Legislative;PEOPLE)(in _precisely_ that order...)].

    July 7, 2011 at 8:38 am | Reply
  11. Anonymous P@TRI0T (S3kshuN8)

    ~!~Article V – Amendment Note1 – Note2 – Note3~!~
    __THE_PUBLIC_whenever_possible_,_shall_have_Initial_AND_Final_discretionary_authority_concerning_ALL_future_Constitutional_Amendments_,_INCLUDING_those_proposed_here.
    ~
    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
    ~~[reword?]

    July 7, 2011 at 8:55 am | Reply
  12. The all potent one

    Doesn't really matter if it gets changed, Obamma will still do whatever he wants

    July 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  13. Anonymous P@TRI0T (S3kshuN8)

    ~Article VI – Debts, Supremacy, Oaths
    All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation__AND_Existing_Constitution_.
    ~
    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 in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
    ~
    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
    ~
    ~Article VII – Ratification Documents
    The Ratification of the Conventions of_THIRTY-TWO_OF_THE_FIFTY_States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
    ~--------––~
    Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth. In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. Note

    Go Washington [George]– President and deputy from Virginia
    New Hampshire – John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman
    Massachusetts – Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King
    Connecticut – Wm Saml Johnson, Roger Sherman
    New York – Alexander Hamilton
    New Jersey – Wil Livingston, David Brearley, Wm Paterson, Jona. Dayton
    Pensylvania – B Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robt Morris, Geo. Clymer, Thos FitzSimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouv Morris
    Delaware – Geo. Read, Gunning Bedford jun, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jaco. Broom
    Maryland – James McHenry, Dan of St Tho Jenifer, Danl Carroll
    Virginia – John Blair, James Madison Jr.
    North Carolina – Wm Blount, Richd Dobbs Spaight, Hu Williamson
    South Carolina – J. Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler
    Georgia – William Few, Abr Baldwin

    Attest: William Jackson, Secretary

    ~~~~~~~~~next up: The Bill Of Rights [NO_CHANGE!(only_additions!)]~~~~~~~~~~

    July 7, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  14. Anonymous P@TRI0T (S3kshuN8)

    UNMODIFIED COPY
    --------––

    The Amendments Note
    The following are the Amendments to the Constitution. The first ten Amendments collectively are commonly known as the Bill of Rights. History

    --------––

    Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    --------––

    Amendment 2 – Right to Bear Arms. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    --------––

    Amendment 3 – Quartering of Soldiers. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

    No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    --------––

    Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    --------––

    Amendment 5 – Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    --------––

    Amendment 6 – Right to Speedy Trial, Confrontation of Witnesses. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

    --------––

    Amendment 7 – Trial by Jury in Civil Cases. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

    --------––

    Amendment 8 – Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    --------––

    Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    --------––

    Amendment 10 – Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    --------––
    UNMODIFIED COPY

    July 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  15. Anonymous P@TRI0T (S3kshuN8)

    [[PROTOCOL:CLARIFICATION_ONLY]]
    ~--–––~
    ~Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note
    ~~~~Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, OR prohibiting the free exercise thereof; OR abridging the freedom of speech OR of the press; OR the right of the People to assemble PEACEFULLY, AND to Petition the_FEDERAL_or_State_Government(s) for a redress of grievances.
    ~--–––~
    Amendment 2 – Right to Bear Arms. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note
    ~~~~A Well_Regulated_Militia–being_VITAL_to_the_appropriate_Defense_of_OUR_NATION__AND__thus_Necessary to the security of a Free State–Shall not be infringed_upon_by_any_Branch_of_the_Federal_Government. While_the_Executive_Branch_exercises_Control_over_Emerging_technologies_,_The_Militia_Shall_maintain_a_level_of_technology_appropriate_to_existing_AND_Emerging_Threats.
    ~--–––~
    Amendment 3 – Quartering of Soldiers. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note
    ~~~~No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
    ~
    ~--–––~
    Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    ~~~~The Right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, AND Particularly describing_both_the place to be searched AND the persons or things TO be seized.
    ~
    ~--–––~N0TE:{in post-9-11, post-OBL era, I believe that this particular amendment should grow to include acts of terrorism upon American Citizens and Americans living/working/serving abroad...I just don't know how to adequately put that into words in the format of an Amendment at this time...nor_much_time_to_devote_to_this_at_present...}
    Amendment 5 – Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    ~~~~No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
    ~--–––~
    Amendment 6 – Right to Speedy Trial, Confrontation of Witnesses. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    ~~~~In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
    ~--–––~{...inflation...}
    Amendment 7 – Trial by Jury in Civil Cases. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    ~~~~In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed_FIVE_HUNDRED_dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
    ~--–––~
    Amendment 8 – Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    ~~~~Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
    ~--–––~
    Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    ~~~~The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People.
    ~--–––~
    Amendment 10 – Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note
    ~~~~The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the_PEOPLE_First_,_THEN_to_the_States respectively.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  16. Anonymous P@TRI0T (S3kshuN8)

    [All Amendments subsequent to the 'Bill Of Rights'] (refer-to Changes already indicated previously)
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 11 – Judicial Limits. Ratified 2/7/1795. Note History
    ~~The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 12 – Choosing the President, Vice-President. Ratified 6/15/1804. Note History The Electoral College
    ~~The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;
    ~
    The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;
    ~
    The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.
    ~
    The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
    ~
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 13 – Slavery Abolished. Ratified 12/6/1865. History
    ~~1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
    ~
    2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 14 – Citizenship Rights. Ratified 7/9/1868. Note History
    ~~1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
    ~!@#$INCLUDE/exclude
    2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State,_INCLUDING_Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the_(male)_inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such_(male)_citizens shall bear to the whole number of_(male)_citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
    ~
    3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
    ~!@#$%^&*(CRUNCH*TIME!now.here.and.now...)
    4. The Validity of the Public Debt of the United States, _AS_authorized by law_AND_payable_from_the_United_States_Treasury_, (including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion), shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, (or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave); but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void. [{(INSERTION– All VALID DEBTS pertaining to the Federal and State Governments of the United States MUST be payable from _taxes_ collected _in_advance__OR__from The United States Treasury [Resource_Reserves] –INSERTION)}]
    ~
    5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 15 – Race No Bar to Vote. Ratified 2/3/1870. History
    ~~1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
    ~
    2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 16 – Status of Income Tax Clarified. Ratified 2/3/1913. Note History
    ~~The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
    ~~~~[DO_NOT_ALTER_much!]~~~~[However, the _process_ of tax collection may not generate an unfair burden upon _ANY_ individual or Family. (Each must do their own part, not to exceed 15% of Total Income per year.)]
    ~{refer to proposed Changes regarding permanent Session of Senate}~--------––
    ~Amendment 17 – Senators Elected by Popular Vote. Ratified 4/8/1913. History
    ~~The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
    ~
    When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
    ~
    This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
    ~
    ~[left for the benefit of Posterity]~--------––
    ~Amendment 18 – Liquor Abolished. Ratified 1/16/1919. Repealed by Amendment 21, 12/5/1933. History
    ~~1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
    ~
    2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    ~
    3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
    ~
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 19 – Women's Suffrage. Ratified 8/18/1920. History
    ~~The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
    ~
    Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    ~
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 20 – Presidential, Congressional Terms. Ratified 1/23/1933. History
    ~~1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
    ~
    2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
    ~
    3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
    ~
    4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
    ~
    5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
    ~
    6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
    ~
    ~[also left for Posterity]~--------––
    ~Amendment 21 – Amendment 18 Repealed. Ratified 12/5/1933. History
    ~~1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
    ~2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
    ~3. The article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
    ~[(COMPREHENSIVE overhaul required to clearly delineate that which is considered 'legal' from that which is considered 'illegal')(the SUBJECT matter of the final amendment subject to Ratification)]~
    ~{SUPERCEDED by proposed alteration in the form of One_Ten_Year_Term limitation}~--------––
    ~Amendment 22 – Presidential Term Limits. Ratified 2/27/1951. History
    ~~1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
    ~
    2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
    ~[HEREBY expanded to include all Non-State Territories Actively Participating]~--------––
    ~Amendment 23 – Presidential Vote for District of Columbia. Ratified 3/29/1961. History
    ~~1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States _AND_other_Territories_participating_ shall appoint in such manner as the _PEOPLE THEREOF_ ( not Congress ) may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the Districts would be entitled if they were States, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
    ~{?sufficiently adequate Alteration??}~
    2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 24 – Poll Tax Barred. Ratified 1/23/1964. History
    ~~1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
    ~
    2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    ~
    ~~--------––
    ~Amendment 25 – Presidential Disability and Succession. Ratified 2/10/1967. Note History
    ~~1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
    ~
    2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
    ~
    3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
    ~
    4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
    ~
    Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
    ~
    ~{personal belief: SHOULD BE raised to age 20 AND national "drinking age" should be lowered to age 20}~--------––
    ~Amendment 26 – Voting Age Set to 18 Years. Ratified 7/1/1971. History
    ~~1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
    ~
    2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    ~
    ~{personal_note: the Only one done in my lifetime!}~--------––
    ~Amendment 27 – Limiting Changes to Congressional Pay. Ratified 5/7/1992. History
    ~~No law varying the compensation for the services of_ANY_Federal_Official_shall take effect until an election shall have intervened__AND__said_law_has_been_Ratified_PUBLICLY.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Next Chore...(tidy-up and adapt to Amendment format)

    July 8, 2011 at 9:30 am | Reply
  17. do

    I think the problem is that if you follow the constitution you wouldnt have the problems. It because americans allowed things to get out of control by excepting the disfunction of not following the doctrine.

    July 8, 2011 at 9:32 am | Reply
  18. Anonymous P@TRI0T (S3kshuN8)

    activity has been rethreaded... see:

    http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/07/u-s-constitution-a-flexible-document/

    July 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  19. Chris Mizera

    Congressional Reform Act of 2011

    1. No Tenure / No Pension.
    A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

    2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

    3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

    4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

    7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.
    The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

    July 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  20. Petra Muresan

    What on Earth does deserving have to do with national security? I imagine most people killed by governments don't deserve to die by any reasonable ethical metric; in many parts of the world the US is more or less legitimately viewed as an imperial and oppressive force.

    December 14, 2011 at 12:54 am | Reply
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  24. Average Joe

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