Friday, 10 June 2011

Lucky Constitutions=Fair, Super-majoritarian Processes

Romanian President Traian Basescu introduced a proposal for a new constitution on June 1.  My friend there reported the president as saying, effectively, that "not having the luck of the American Constitution, which was good from the start, we settle to continually improve it."

Yet President Basescu is forgetting two very important things:

1) the first American Constitution, or the Articles of Confederation, was far from good,
and 2) there was nothing "lucky" about the current American Constitution being good enough to last for 200 years.

Much thought was given to how to create the U.S. Constitution.  It involved four different phases, beginning with the local selection of delegates, most of whom were lawyers.  The next phase involved secret, four-month-long deliberations involving at least three different stages: 1) eight weeks to hammer out a political structure, 2) a legal drafting stage wherein five individuals produced a working draft, and 3) a six-week refining stage.  The third phase involved approval by the current Congress for extra-legislative state ratification conventions to be held to consider the new constitution, subsequently followed by state legislative approvals.  The fourth stage were those state ratifications themselves, wherein a super-majority of states were required to adopt the Constitution.

Some leeway should be given for "starter" constitutions, both by its creators and those whom it will govern.  They will, because of the haste required, be highly imperfect. Yet once some measure of stability is reached through an imperfect "starter" constitution, just as much thought should be given to the process of creating a more long-lived constitution as to the texts of that constitution.

Other countries may get "lucky" in their new constitutions if they focus on making their writing process fair, inclusive, and super-majoritarian, as good constitutional content is invariably the result of good constitutional processes.

1 comment:

  1. While the four points mentioned are critical to success it is just as important to remember a 5th.

    Once established a constitution must be maintained and respected according to its original intent. There is no value in a contract that is not binding or if the meanings of its words can be changed?

    Unfortunately, we are failing step five. Our constitution is quickly becoming a meaningless historical document - amended out of existence by fiat.

    Our representatives answer to their party leadership over their electorate - a violation of our right of equal representation.

    How does the phrase "shall not be infringed" reconcile with our numerous gun control laws?

    Illegal entitlement programs rob us of freedom of individual choice and the dignity, honor, and responsibility of providing for ourselves and our neighbors.

    Judges create law from whole cloth and void laws legally and constitutionally passed. Roe v Wade, for example, contains not one constitutional justification or argument. What about the unalienable right to life?

    Abuses of the commerce and general welfare clauses have allowed massive federal expansions via usurpation of state and individual rights.

    Congress has abdicated its duty to provide and manage a sound money system. Instead we have the fatal Federal Reserve Ponzi scheme.

    Amendments 16 and 17 are questionable. Let's see the ratification records.

    A sitting Senator moved to the office of Sec State in direct violation of constitutional restrictions.

    Mr. Obama is NOT a natural born citizen. Neither has he qualified for office re amendment XX. Forgeries and computer images don't count.

    Ironically, the forgeries he presented prove that, wherever he was born, it was not in Kapiolani hospital. They do, however, affirm that Obama was born under foreign jurisdiction. We're supposed to ignore that.

    We're supposed to accept forged documentation that shows ineligibility as a confirmation of eligibility. What?

    In addition to the threats these and other constitutional breaches present to the US they also gives cause for others considering a constitutional government to pause.

    Our constitution and founding documents are not secret. Everybody in the world can read them. They can also easily find proof of everything I've presented here.

    The point is, if we don't abide by our own constitution, what's the point in anyone else writing another equally ignorable contract?