Our current constitution which was written during the summer of 1787 and implemented in 1789 needs, at the very least, to be updated and written in simple and clear words that empower today’s citizen. Much of our current constitution deals with matters that are no longer relevant, such as the embarrassing references to any slave as being counted as 3/5 of a person.
Before I propose my Twenty-Eighth Amendment which simplifies and revises Article V of our current Constitution, I will print Article V immediately below, so that you can be reminded of its tortuous, vague, and confusing words:
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.
What the latter part of Article V specifically states is that no amendment could be made before 1808 that prohibits the importation of slaves. Do we want that kind of statement to remain in our current, supreme civil document?
This Twenty-Eighth Amendment proposal includes some of the features that are found in Article V in our current Constitution, but it simplifies, clarifies, and changes Article V as well. Article V is the only part of our current Constitution that tells how we can add amendments to the Constitution. Unfortunately, it does not address how we can abolish our government as Thomas Jefferson said we have a right to do in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson expressed that every new generation should have a new constitution.
My amendment proposal is printed below, followed by a second constitutional amendment proposal by some members of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Others such as the Friends of the Article V Convention attest that Congress is obligated right now by order of the Supreme Court to allow the 50 state legislatures to have a national Amendment Convention in order to vote on various amendments that have already been proposed. The balanced budget amendment is one such proposal.
A Proposal for a Twenty-Eighth Amendment—Latest Revision, 3-4-12
The United States government can be modified through amendments added to its current Constitution. It can also be changed when Congress passes new federal laws. But to change the federal government completely, there has to be a Constitutional Convention to rewrite a new constitution.
To change the federal government by merely adding amendments to the current constitution, there are two ways that this can be done:
In the first way, both Houses of the United States Congress must pass their proposed amendment with a 2/3 majority. Then 2/3 of the state legislatures have a year to ratify the amendment(s) recommended by Congress. Ratifying with a 2/3 majority, instead of the 3/4 majority that was required in the past, makes it easier to change the government. Citizens will feel helpless and hopeless, or politically alienated, if it is too difficult for them to change their government.
The second way to add amendments to the current Constitution is for 2/3 of the state legislatures to call for a national Amendment Convention for any reasons. Once a state makes a request for a convention, that request cannot be rescinded. Each state legislature shall choose one person to attend the national Amendment Convention, which should not last longer than three months. State delegates at the Amendment Convention will discuss, rewrite, and vote on the various amendments that have been proposed by the states.
If the state delegates approve of any amendment proposals with at least a 51% majority (after working for a maximum of 3 months), then those amendment proposals will be submitted to the state legislatures. A new amendment will be added to the current Constitution whenever 2/3 of the state legislatures ratify it.
If a state casts it vote early, it may change its mind if the 2/3 majority has not yet been reached. If the state legislatures have not passed a proposed amendment within a year it will become null and void. Whenever 2/3 of the states ratify an amendment it will be added to the Constitution, and States will then not be allowed to change their vote on the issue. This second amendment process bypasses the US Congress altogether.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. As mentioned in the first paragraph of this Amendment, a radically new constitution and government can be formed through a Constitutional Convention. It can be achieved in a fair, orderly, and nonviolent way. The American people have a right to make a new government based upon a new constitution. Therefore, the decision to create a new supreme document will be considered by the American people at every presidential election.
If at least 51% of the American voters request a Constitutional Convention at the time a new president is elected, then every citizen eligible to vote for a U.S. president shall register with a national political party within 9 months afterwards (www.politics1.com has a comprehensive directory of U.S. political parties). The Constitutional Convention will start meeting 3 months later or one year after the previous presidential election. The Constitutional Convention delegates will meet at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. There will be 50 delegates chosen by the system of Proportional Representation.
For educational purposes, let us pretend that the national Republican Party won 10 delegate seats at the Constitutional Convention, the Democratic Party-10, the Libertarian Party-9, the Green Party-8, the Constitution Party-7, the Socialist Party-3, the Communist Party-2, and an Anarchist group-1 (Anarchists generally believe that government, in any form, is detrimental to society.)
The 50 Constitutional Convention delegates will meet the first Tuesday of November, one year after the previous presidential election. The delegates will choose within 30 days one of their own attending delegates, based on a system of Instant Run-off voting.
To pick a Constitutional Convention chairperson, each delegate will rank 7 candidates in order of preference. If no chairperson candidate gets a 51% majority, then the 7th of the top 7 candidates is dropped from the voting list before the 2nd round of voting is held among the top 6 candidates. If after the 2nd round of voting, there is still no chairperson candidate with a 51% majority, then a 3rd round of voting among the top 5 candidates will take place. This manner of voting will continue even if it is narrowed down to a choice between two or three chairperson candidates.
Formal discussions and debates of the Convention will use parliamentary procedure. The Convention delegates will work on several revisions, if necessary, of the newly proposed Constitution, in the constant effort to get 51% of the American people to accept it, as expressed in public opinion surveys. In fact, since the delegates have a maximum of one year, they could work longer to get a higher percentage of approval than 51%, after hearing the arguments of the 49% who disapprove of the new document. Two years after the previous presidential election, the American people will vote on the latest, proposed constitution, if the Constitutional Convention delegates were able to create a document that was approved by 51% of the delegates.
Then without a 51% majority vote of approval by the American people as well, the proposed constitution will be null and void, and the current Constitution will continue as before. If the proposed Constitution is ratified by the American people, it will not be implemented until two years later, unless 51% of the state legislatures want to implement it sooner.
In summary, once the American voters decide they want a Constitutional Convention, they will have one year to pick national political party delegates and another year for the actual Constitutional Convention. Then two years later the Constitution will be implemented at the beginning of the next presidential term of office. This allows two years to prepare the infrastructure of the new government based on the new Constitution. The spoken and written words of the delegates must be publicized, and citizens will be allowed to voice their own opinions in the process.
The US Congress, the President, and the US Supreme Court will not have the right to control an Amendment Convention or a Constitutional Convention. They can, however, express their opinions and recommendations in the process.
Friends of the Article V Convention (www.FOAVC.org) have documented that the U.S. Congress is obligated right now to call an Article V (Amendment) Convention so that representatives of the 50 state legislatures can vote only to ratify various constitutional amendments that have already been proposed. Members of this group argue that Article V of our current Constitution addresses how to have an Amendment Convention but not a Constitutional Convention. Probably most of them would not fully endorse my Twenty-Eighth Amendment proposal. But they make a very strong case that we should be having an Amendment Convention right now:
Bill Walker at FOAVC.org has collected photographed copies of 750 applications for an Article V Convention that have been submitted to Congress from 49 states. The Constitution mandates that an amendment-proposing national convention (consisting of one delegate from each state) be called when 2/3 of the state legislatures (i.e. 34 states) propose it. The Supreme Court has declared over the years in 5 separate decisions (without dissent) that Congress must call an Article V Convention. But Congress has never obeyed the Constitution regarding an Article V Convention. Nor has Congress compiled the applications into a single public record.
Aided by opponents of an Article V Convention and a complacent Judiciary, Congress has kept the applications buried in Congressional records and has thus deliberately and willfully vetoed the Constitution. Every member of Congress should now be held accountable for this violation. In an earlier essay posted at the Disinformation, I deal more at length with this issue.
Some members of the Occupy Wall Street, New York, are offering a Restore Democracy Plan which focuses on just one issue that could get universal support from all Americans (even those in the Tea Party) by pushing an amendment proposal that allows equal representation (one person, one vote), and that this will be accomplished by getting big money out of politics. Organizations such as corporations and unions should not be considered people, and money shall not be considered speech. See the article by Rick Theis here.
But one person made a comment about Rick Theis’ article about the Restore Democracy Plan strategy: “Asking Congress to amend asks them to undo what they put the Supremes up to [in] the Citizens United decision. They have wanted the $ for years. Thinking they are going to give it up short of an Article V Convention is naïve.”
But then Rick Theis responded, “Chris, thanks for your comment, but it seems you skimmed rather than read this op-ed piece. It sets forth a clear plan for getting Congress to agree to the amendment using the same tactics Prohibition Amendment supporters used … and we have public support for overturning corporate personhood at far greater levels (80% of the Democrats, 81% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans, as the piece states) than Prohibition supporters did. [The] [P]roof that Congress can and will act against its own selfish interests is all of the campaign finance reform that passed (especially as the result of the public pressure after Watergate), reform that would have helped had it not been overturned by the courts. An Article V Convention is a horrible idea for many, many reasons, not the least of which is that it could easily be hijacked by right-wing demagogues.”
In conclusion, I support any amendment that can overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that allows corporations to unduly influence elections with their exorbitant Super Pac donations, as we are now seeing with the Republican presidential candidates. However, if Congress has been mandated by the Supreme Court to allow the state legislatures to have a national Amendment Convention, then obeying the law and the Constitution is what we should do, even if we fear a right-wing agenda, which may not be justified.
But I believe my Twenty-Eighth Amendment proposal is far more comprehensive in establishing a government that expresses the will of all citizens, from the far right to the far left, with its introduction of Proportional Representation and Instant Run-off voting methods. At my website www.NowSavetheWorld.com, I propose in my online book “Converting Voting Precincts into Tribes” my Third Constitution of the United States (it is also posted at Disinformation). The Third Constitution builds government from the bottom-up using consensus decision making at every level of government, and it eliminates the US Senate with its advocacy of Proportional Representation.
But even if the actual Third Constitution of the United States that results from an actual Constitutional Convention is not as radical to my Green Party preferences as I would like it to be, I and others too, can keep working through the democratic process to make things better. Others, who have radically different ideas from mine, have a right to do the same.