November 25, 2009
A Progressive ConstitutionBy Larrey Anderson
I don't begrudge the progressive left its political power. They won. They are far from ashamed to say it, and I am not afraid to admit it. What I do mind is the left's obvious neglect and disregard for the Constitution as it is written.
If the left is going to change America, first they should change the basic rules set down to guide (and limit, and in some cases prevent) their proposed changes to our country's laws and legal procedures. With that in mind, I have decided to put together a progressive guide for rewriting the Constitution.
Most of the problems the left has with the Constitution are in the Bill of Rights. But let's start with the body of the Constitution. The progressives need only make a couple of changes there. (My second recommended revision for the articles of the Constitution will come later.)
Six changes are needed to give us a progressive Constitution. (In case I missed some progressive modifications, American Thinker readers are invited to add your proposed amendments to the Constitution in the comments section to this article.)
Here are my six proposals:
1) Article I, section 8 of the Constitution lists 17 specific powers granted to the Congress. Progressives believe that the "general welfare of the United States" clause, in the first line of section 8, gives congress power outside of its 17 enumerated powers. I don't. I think the Constitution means what it says and says what it means.
I have already shown that the general welfare clause of section 8 applies only to the day-to-day functioning of the federal government, and not to the citizens of the United States. But the left can fix all of that with one amendment:
Progressives should feel free to leave in the italics so the message is clear. The words in italics are not in the Constitution as it is now written. With the ratification of this amendment, the Congress could constitutionally enact national health care legislation, national education "reform," national energy mandates (like telling us what light bulbs we can use), etc.
2) Let's move on to the Bill of Rights. The left often claims that the First Amendment erects a "wall of separation" between church and state. (I have demonstrated elsewhere that it does no such thing.)
What the opening clause of the First Amendment says is this:
Progressives have been ignoring the actual words of the Constitution and have focused on one obscure line in a letter from Thomas Jefferson instead. (That's where the "wall of separation" comes from.) So the first clause of the First Amendment of our new progressive Constitution should be amended to read:
This clause is, of course, nonsense. What wall? Where? With the ratification of this amendment, leftist jurists and lawyers would be free to figure it out. The First Amendment would now mean whatever progressives want it to mean. (And they wouldn't have to twist the evident meaning of "make no law.")
3) It is crystal clear from the dissenting opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller that progressives do not believe that the Second Amendment provides the individual citizen of the United States a right to bear arms. (By the way, they are wrong about this.) Wrong or right, this one is easy to fix:
Done...and done. America will be progressive, safe, and hip -- just like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
4) Moving to the Fifth Amendment, the "taking clause" at the end of the amendment states, "... nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." [Emphasis added.] Progressives on the Supreme Court (in the 5-to-4 decision in Kelo v. New London) held that "public use" really means "public purpose," which means...well, whatever the government declares a "public purpose" is a "public use."
The Kelo decision had a very progressive outcome. The lower-middle-class riverfront homes that were torn down in New London, Connecticut are long gone. The lots those homes sat on are empty and overgrown with weeds because the giant pharmaceutical company decided to abandon its plans for building on the property in New London. Now that's a progressive "public purpose."
In keeping with this utopian attitude, the new "taking clause" of the Fifth Amendment should read:
The "with just compensation" verbiage is optional for our new Constitution. Progressives may choose to omit "with just compensation" at their discretion -- and property owners would be able to contribute to the left's "greater good."
5) Let's proceed to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. These were, after all, written by a bunch of dead white guys who actually believed that people should be free to make their own decisions whenever possible and that the states should be free to respond to the particular desires and needs of the citizens of each particular state.
The Ninth Amendment essentially says that the rights specifically granted (“enumerated”) to the central government in the Constitution do not “disparage” or “deny” the rights reserved by the people. The Tenth Amendment makes it clear that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government ("the United States") belong to the individual states and the people. That’s not progressive.
Easily remedied with one amendment:
Repealing these two amendments would leave the determination of all of our rights (abortion, prayer in school, gun control, land use planning, election laws, etc.) in the hands of the central government. That's what progressives want -- let them make it happen. And they just might -- if it were easy to amend the Constitution.
6) Unfortunately for the left, it isn't easy. This brings us back to the body of the Constitution and to Article V. It is titled "Amendment." Here are the important bits from Article V:
This is a huge hurdle for initiating my modest proposals for a progressive Constitution. So far, no progressive judge has declared, "What the Founders actually meant in Article V was one-half of both Houses and none of the several States could amend the Constitution." (The judge could nuance the heck out of such an interpretation -- maybe something about how the ink has faded on the original document.) But alas, Article V stands in the way of a truly (and honestly and logically coherent) progressive Constitution.
Here is the solution:
Get with it, progressives. If you really have the courage of your convictions, then amend the Constitution. You would finally have the law of the land on your side. You would no longer have to rely on progressive judges making a laughingstock of logic, common sense, and the English language in their outrageous decisions.
Most important, you would have a Constitution that allows you to proceed with a progressive agenda...constitutionally.