December 12, 2011

Rick Perry's proposed constitutional amendments -- the good and the not-so-good

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.


Posted by Hube at December 12, 2011 04:39 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

The extreme Left and the extreme Right both want to control (almost) every aspect of life. The only real difference is in the list of things they want to control.

And the Right is all in favor of federalism when the states are doing things they like. And they hate federalism when the states are doing things they don't like. The Left just seems to favor federal control of everything. The Right wants federal control of things they don't like in Mass, or Cali, or anywhere else.

Is there a difference? Only in their presentation and style. They both want to tell me how to live my life - for my own good of course.

So Perry wants a constitutional amendment because the states are not doing things his way. And because it is easy to blame gay marriage for the problems in straight marriage. Easier than trying to fix the insane pressures in America today that are destroying marriage. Or the financial incentives that keep the poor single, and the new ones in the health-care bill that will encourage people to either stay single or get divorced. None of that makes a good sound bite.

He hates the fact that a really big part of America is OK with the right to choose. (As opposed to having the government dictate to a woman certain things of a private nature.) And their won't be any outs for rape, incest, or life of the mother. It's for the children.

As for prayer in public schools. Any child can pray any time they want. That is a red-herring. What he wants is government-sanctioned prayers where everyone is forced to participate. Freedom of Religion isn't supposed to apply to "those people." Anybody who doesn't believe what Perry believes is a devil, and you can't base public policy on what the devils want.

In short he is a bigot appealing - in desperation - to like-minded bigots.

The real problems of this country don't stem from direct election of senators, or the tenure of judges. Those are either time-wasters or indications he hasn't thought about priorities. Which he probably hasn't.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at December 12, 2011 10:07 PM

I wish he had one for term limits for congress. That would go a long way toward sorting out things in DC

Posted by: Duffy at December 13, 2011 07:52 AM

It is unnecessary to amend the Constitution to provide Congress with a check on the Court. The Constitution already provides one: the Congress has the power to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Court. That Congress has failed to use that power is an indictment of the Congress not of the Court.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at December 22, 2011 07:37 PM