Saturday, September 29, 2007
Has anyone--the Founding generation, scholars, jurists, attorneys, or citizens--ever suggested that we should regularize constitutional re-examination and change? A constitutional (mini-) convention, say every 20 years, would do the trick, but other proposals also warrant consideration. The details, of course, need to be worked out inter alia by answering the following questions: (1) Will the entire document be reconsidered every 20 years or just those provisions that have caused some interpretive and institutional difficulty during the preceding 15 year period? (2) Should the re-ratification" or revision require a supermajoritarian or majoritarian vote? (3) If supermajoritarian, wouldn't 60 percent be a better balance between too easily ratifying the changes by majoritarian vote and making it too difficult by retaining the present procedure? (4) Should the people, Congress, or the states, or all of the above be involved in this process of periodically re-ratifying (revising) the Constitution? One possible benefit of such an entrenched procedure would be that citizens would have to take the Constitution more seriously than they now do. Another would be that constitutional discourse and debate would be a necessary feature of legislative battles, commentary on political developments, punditry and political discourse generally. Of course, there is a down side also. A rigid stability--rendering it virtually impossible to change the glaring defects in the Constitution--might be lost. But then again good riddance. On 19 October 2007 a mock second constitutional convention will be held in Washington, DC.