Should It Be Easier To Amend The Constitution?

dnews scalia

National Review has an interesting interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The entire interview (video below) is worth your time to watch, but what caught my attention was Scalia’s answer to a question about what amendment, if any, he’d suggest for the Constitution.

His answer? He’d amend the amendment process.

“I am sometimes asked if I would amend any provision of the Constitution, and actually the one provision I would amend is the amendment provision,” said Scalia. “It is very, very difficult to amend it, infinitely more difficult than it was when that provision was written. It takes a two-thirds vote of each House to propose the amendment and then it has to be approved by three-quarters of the states. I figured it out once, if you took a bare majority in the smallest states by population, something less than 2 percent of the population could prevent a constitutional amendment. That is probably too severe and certainly much worse than it was.”

I’ve always felt that the federal legislative process was an arduous one by design, and should be kept that way (which is why I’m a supporter of the filibuster). Broad national policy should only be enacted with broad national consensus of the sort required by a complicated and difficult legislative process.

I think this goes even more so for constitutional amendments. The Constitution is not a document we should amend lightly. It should be (and is given the 203 year ratification process for the 27th amendment) a difficult process, and I’m fearful of the sort of policy we’d enshrine in the constitution were it to be an easier process.

If we made the amendment process easier I’m afraid we’d end up with smoking bans (why not, we put an alcohol ban in) and other nonsense as the “supreme law of the land.”

No thanks. I think the amendment process should be left alone.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    “Should It Be Easier To Amend The Constitution?”

    Why bother?

    • RCND

      It doesn’t get followed anyways

      • $8194357

        1913 Woodrow effectively sold it out to
        international progressive elietists.

        UN AGENDA 21 is their agenda for global dominace
        and rule by elitist olagarchy. Illuminati false Eden.
        .
        The devils agendas thru ideological false hoods and deceptions
        “given new names” and sold to a new generations of
        lemmings and useful idiots know it all know nothings…
        This game plan he has used from his fall from Grace.

        Sharia? (facist state control under a “religous cloak”).
        Technocracy?
        Communist facism?
        All in the name of:
        (wag the dog)
        Global enviro”mental” sustainability
        along with third world redistributive justice..
        TOTAL olagarchy global governance…

  • badlands4

    Wasn’t making it hard to amended the Constitution the point? If you make it easy, then you would have changes constantly and that would really devalue the rights enshrined in the Constitution. Not just the 2nd amendment or states rights, but all of the amendments, regardless of your political persuasion. There are things that should have been easier to insert as a right, such as ending slavery, but I wouldn’t want to see the constitution become some kind of Mickey Mouse type of process. Look at extreme element on all sides of the political spectrum. Do we want eco terrorists, the KKK or Warren Jeffs(I believe that is his name) kind of views made the law of the land?

    I don’t think it should be easy to amend the Constitution in general.

    • $8194357

      Yup
      what you said…

  • HG

    The courts, in effect, have been amending the constitution. Look at Obamacare.

  • Onslaught1066

    It’s a dead living document that no likes and was written by dead white guys, it out lived its usefulness five minutes after the ink dried.

    Let’s just abolish it, disband congress and the supreme court and look to “Uncle Joe” ‘bama for our every need.

    • $8194357

      So you went to college too huh?
      Marxist academic destruction of a culture.
      Sad..Social justice false morality to destroy the rule of law Republic
      worked over 100 years to perfection..
      Real sad..

  • $8194357

    The left has spent over 100 years undermining it anyway..

    New Left communist Democrats have dedicated the last 60+
    years to Cloward/Piven destruction thru overloading..

    No one in DC understands the Constitution limits the federal collective
    authority to those few defined and stated in it..

    So why does it matter anymore..
    The only ones who really understand it are
    “naturalized citizens from former soviet block countries”
    and the ones who have been marginalized as tin foil hat crazy by
    all the “so called moderates” in both parties.

    http://cowboybyte.com/14969/the-400000-votes-that-tipped-the-election/

    Quote:

    The 400,000 Votes That Tipped the Election

    Posted on November 13, 2012 by Cowboy Byte

    Broad trends and the national political undertow can’t be adequately captured in any single statistic — but if Mitt Romney had managed to push the electorate in a handful of states a few clicks in his direction, he’d be the president-elect, rather than an also-ran. Via Jim Geragthy:

    Florida: 73,858

    Ohio: 103,481

    Virginia: 115,910

    Colorado: 113,099

    Those four states, with a collective margin of, 406,348 for Obama, add up to 69 electoral votes. Had Romney won 407,000 or so additional votes in the right proportion in those states, he would have 275 electoral votes.

    Woulda, coulda, shoulda speculation is a useless exercise at this stage; the fact remains that Romney didn’t. But these numbers also demonstrate how a campaign’s granular-level decisions about priorities — how it allocates time and resources, etc — really can impact the trajectory of an entire nation. As I reported on Friday, the Romney campaign’s internal polling wrongly indicated that three of the four states listed above were relatively safely in the Republican’s column.

    Read more: http://cowboybyte.com/14969/the-400000-votes-that-tipped-the-election/#ixzz2C7YpUzcu

  • borborygmi

    no

    • Roy_Bean

      Hell no!

  • Neiman

    No time to read the text, heading back to work, but the answer is NO!

  • JustRuss

    When it was originally implemented there were only 13 states…so I can understand an argument for changing the ratio required to pass an amendment.

    However I can’t think of anything that would work “better” than our current requirements that would not also make it way too easy. Beyond having a popular vote instead of state buy in, which leads to tyranny of the majority.

    There is also State Nullification, in which as long as a majority of states decide not to follow the law, the Fed winds up incapable of enforcing it. Honestly that is probably the best way to move forward until you HAVE to amend and already have the backing to do so.

    An interesting question, a difficult answer. My initial gut reaction is NO but I’m open to a good idea, if one comes along.

  • VocalYokel

    No.

  • the Fighting Czech

    The US Constitution is nothing but a scrap of paper that politicians wave around when its convenient. otherwise its ignored.
    On the outside chance it will actually mean something someday, NO, it shouldnt be made easier to change.

  • Gern Blanston

    I say no, too.

    Also, if the Constituion is a ‘living, breathing document’ as the left states, then why is there an amendment process in the first place?

    Another question: How many federal laws and regulations do we have that are not written in the constitution? What is the point of the 10th Amendment?

    • Guest

      The constitution takes thirty minutes to read, no all of the regulations are not in it. The bill of rights and other key principles are what we are founded on. In practice it is general principles that need interpretation, without this it would be an unworkable document. Scalia, the most conservative Supreme Court justice even believes this. However he would like it to be more formal so it would be easier to be more of a strict constructionist. I disagree just as we have over regulate the economy for every situation continually amending it and lengthening it would complicate the document. A strength of the document is that it is the most general and short Constitution in the world. Therefore it is vital that we interpret it in light of changing times. It is very naive to think the Constitution gives clear guidance by letter and word.

  • Waski_the_Squirrel

    No! It should be difficult to amend so that any amendments are saved only for the most serious of changes. In your post you cited the exact example I was thinking of: the amendments related to alcohol should never have made it into the constitution: popular fervor was given too much sway.

  • BadgerFan82

    The last thing this country needs is a way for either party to easily write things more permanently into the Constitution. As frustrating as it can be to have half of what you support repealed every four to eight years, at least you know that in another 4-8 years half the stuff you really hate will go. Except for pork. No matter which party writes that in, it just seems to stay forever…

  • Harold

    What good is a Constitution if parts of it are ignored by our president and his cabinet and administration?

  • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

    No… It should not be easier.

  • Angie Faut

    When they can not get what they want by following the rules, they try to change the rules. Or convince people they are really just guidelines anyway!

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