Article I: Executive Summary

Billy gave a couple of good ideas here:

I am not so proud that I will not accept good ideas from anyone else. And besides, what I already had tagged for the contents of Article I already forms an Executive Summary of the Document. So I’ll write a rough draft. My comments–which would not be part of the final document, will be delimited as C comments: /* This is a comment. */

Article 1: Executive Summary /* Perhaps ‘Preamble’ would be better? */

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. /* Why not take the preamble to start with? Sharp-eyed readers may note that I removed the phrase ‘promote the general welfare’. This is due to the fact that the meaning of the word welfare has changed dramatically since 1787. */

Section 1.1: Philosophy

This document enumerates rights and powers granted to the Federal Government over the States, Territories, and People of the United States.  The Federal Government has no rights or or powers other than those granted or those implicit to fulfilling Constitutional mandates. /* Right up front, tell everyone what we expect out of this, and the guiding principles for interpretation and execution. */

Section 1.2: Authority to create a Constitution

Government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, and this document is effective upon ratification by majorities of voters in 3/4ths of the States.

Section 1.3: Amendments

No constitution is perfect, so there must be a mechanism for change. However, a constitution must be stable, so the process for change must be difficult. Some parts should be immune to change as well. Such parts will be noted explicitly. Any part is subject to revision in the whole-scale replacement process described in Section 1.4 Nothing in Section 1.3 may be amended by the processes described. /* An Article contains all of its Sections.  A Section contains all of its Paragraphs. This should be spelled out somewhere, but how, and in what language? */

Paragraph 1.3.1: Congressional Origin

Congress may create Amendments to this Constitution, so long as they do not alter portions which are immune to Amendment.  If such an Amendment passes with 2/3 majority in each House, it is referred to the States for Ratification. If 3/4 of the States ratify the Amendment within 7 years of its passage through Congress, it takes effect.

Paragraph 1.3.2: State Originated

/* I am not exactly sure how to do this one. I want the States to be able to propose and pass Amendments without Congress’ say-so, so long as it takes a majority vote in each State to ratify.  How many States need to ratify, though? 4/5? Should it be 3/4 here and drop the Paragraph 1.3.1 proportion to 2/3? */

Section 1.4: Replacement

If parts of the Constitution that may not be changed are not in accordance with the will of the people, the entire Constitution may be dissolved and a new one granted as detailed below. Nothing in Section 1.4 may be Amended by the process described in Section 1.3. /*This is new, and I got the idea for this from articles about the difficulties of calling a Constitutional Convention. I provide solutions for a couple of them, such as how to call a convention, but for the rest, simply provide time limits. The burden is on those who want to replace the constitution to overcome them in an equitable manner. */

Paragraph 1.4.1: Calling a convention

A Constitutional Convention may be called at any time, provided there is no other process of replacement happening.  A Constitutional Convention may be called in one of two ways: two thirds majority vote in both Houses of Congress, or by majority vote of the People in two thirds of the States.

Paragraph 1.4.2: The Convention

All issues of the form, procedures, and representation, and any other issue will be worked out by the people of the states.  They have six months from the time the Convention is called for to convene, or else the process stops.  The Convention has one year from when it convenes to present a draft Constitution, or the process stops.

Paragraph 1.4.3: Ratifying the Draft Constitution

Once a Draft Constitution is presented, there will be one year of debate, and then a vote in every State. If the Draft Constitution is ratified by at least 60% of the States, then it is in force and this Constitution no longer is in effect.  If the Draft Constitution is ratified by fewer than 60% of the States, then it does not take effect.


Well, what do you think? Are there other things you’d want to see in the executive summary part of things? Or anywhere else in the Constitution 2.0?

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5 Responses to Article I: Executive Summary

  1. Xpat says:

    Neat stuff.

    About the “welfare” thing, since a 2.0 would need a broad consensus, wouldn’t people cry foul for removing a clause (because a word has acquired meanings to which you are ideologically opposed)? Rather than delete, it seems you should revise. What did “promote” the “general welfare” mean and how could you rewrite it to reflect that? Offhand, “further the good of society” seems about right, though it is admittedly bland.

    • Xpat says:

      Sorry, instead of “wouldn’t people cry foul” I should have said “wouldn’t people down twinkle” . . .

    • D.J. says:

      Part of this is to preserve the original philosophy as much as possible. As such, I suppose I am coming at it from an idealistic perspective rather than a realistic one.

      Also, for edification, the story of then-Representative David Crockett and one of his constituents, Horatio Bunce.

      Short version: Crockett had voted for money to be given to victims of a fire in Georgetown. During his re-election campaign, Bunce called him out on it and essentially read him the riot act. Crockett repented and vowed to own up to his mistake and do better in the future. Later, back in Congress, he said he would not vote for a similar bill, and offered the following counterproposal: everyone donate a week’s pay. No-one took him up on it, not even those who were rich and in favor of the bill,

  2. DJMoore says:

    I’m shy about tampering with the Constitution itself. Changes should be extremely parsimonious.

    I favor only a single amendment: “Congress shall not exempt itself from laws it passes.”

    I think I could also get behind restoring election of Senators to state legislatures, undoing Amendment 17, except perhaps for the provision regarding vacancies.

    I’m very tempted by something to the effect of, “The people, not the Supreme Court, are the ultimate arbiters of the meaning of this document,” but that seems too destabilizing. Maybe something along the lines of amending the Second Amendment to say, “the right of citizens to keep and bear arms” or “A citizens’ militia, being necessary…” would do.

    But in the end, I favor simply educating the people that the intent of the Constitution is to limit the power of the State, and to protect their own power.

  3. Pingback: The Forrest Gump Preamble. | World's Only Rational Man

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