Rick Perry’s proposed constitutional amendments — the good and the not-so-good
Posted by Hube on 2011/12/12
As reported by Ace, TX Governor Rick Perry has proposed as many as eight constitutional amendments he’d like to see ratified if he becomes president. Some are good ideas, some aren’t so good. Let’s take a gander and judge …
Organized Prayer in Public Schools Amendment. The first question is, “organized by whom?” If it’s school officials, forget it. As it is currently, schools are permitted to have Bible study groups with school official sponsors, provided they meet after school hours. And students (and staff) are permitted to pray already — silently — and many districts allow for an “official” moment of silence to do said praying if one so chooses. In today’s vastly diverse America, “officially” sanctioned prayer is a terrible idea. HUBE-O-METER SAYS: LAME.
Pro-Life Amendment. While I respect (and even agree) with Perry’s sentiments on this, I thought conservatives were all about federalism. One of the major complaints about Roe v. Wade is that it took the decision about abortion away from the individual states, allowing for abortion across the land (with certain restrictions). I’d also want to see what, if any, exceptions would be made under the amendment. Rape? Incest? Life of mother? HUBE-O-METER SAYS: UNDECIDED.
Pro-Marriage Amendment. Again, what’s the big deal about letting states decide how they’ll treat marriage? Not allowing such is something that conservatives should abhor. In this respect, social conservatives aren’t much different than liberals in extending federal reach into areas where it ain’t wanted. Admittedly, of course, the former’s method is more representative and more difficult a process; however, the results end up the same. HUBE-O-METER SAYS: LAME.
Balanced Budget Amendment. “Bring it on,” is all I can say here. Anything that mandates that we get our fiscal house in order should be OK with everyone. Most versions of such an amendment usually have emergency measure exemptions; I assume Perry’s would too. HUBE-O-METER SAYS: BRILLIANT.
Repeal of 16th Amendment. Again, a hearty “Bring it on!!” The Founders, in their infinite wisdom, knew such a tax was an abomination; apparently, our politicians in the early part of the last century thought (wrongly) that they were wiser. The dreaded 16th Amendment gave rise to the United States’ own version of the KGB (the IRS), and philosophically it runs afoul of the 13th Amendment in that it mandates uncompensated servitude (employers doing the work for government withholding taxes — yeah, I know that’s a very libertarian argument, but it’s a damn good one). It also was ratified under very suspicious circumstances (see: The Law That Never Was). Of course, it’ll take a good plan to replace the federal income tax; I’ve always been in favor of a national sales tax as a replacement, as it would give consumers the choice as to when, where and how to pay their taxes (i.e. for things they want). But that doesn’t seem to be Perry’s idea. HUBE-O-METER SAYS: BRILLIANT.
Repeal of 17th Amendment. This site gives a very detailed examination of the pros and cons of the 17th Amendment — direct election of senators — and at least in this realm, Perry’s penchant for minimal [federal] government power seems consistent with conservatism. However, in my view, more democracy is better in this area, and if you think we have gridlock in Washington now, imagine what it’ll be like when state legislatures refuse to choose US senators due to in-fighting, leading to numerous vacancies in the federal Senate. HUBE-O-METER SAYS: LAME.
Abolition of Lifetime Tenure for Judges. I happen to agree with the philosophy that appointment of judges (and lifetime tenure), rather than the election of them, serves to make judges less political. But whether this philosophy actually holds true is another matter. I tend to doubt it. We all know how the US Supreme Court will decide on most issues, because it has a clear conservative and liberal bloc. These justices’ appointment and lifetime tenure hasn’t made them any less political. Thus, all that being said, I don’t see a hassle with a definitive time limit on the tenure of federal judges, some or all of them. Perry’s idea is for an 18-year limit, staggered so that every two years a certain number’s terms are done. HUBE-O-METER SAYS: BRILLIANT.
Congressional Veto Over SCOTUS Decisions Amendment. Again, those very wise Founders devised a way by which Congress can thwart a [lousy] Supreme Court decision: the constitutional amendment. (Y’know, the very thing Rick Perry likes proposing!) Perry’s amendment would allow a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to nullify a SCOTUS decision, thus making the [amendment] process considerably streamlined — no three-quarters of state legislatures needed. I agree with Perry himself that this “risks increased politicization of judicial decisions,” and besides, you wouldn’t really need this amendment if the lifetime tenure of judges is abolished. HUBE-O-METER SAYS: LAME.
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