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Is amending the Constitution really difficult?

dstebbins

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I wondered about how Congress could pass the flag amendment and say it was "by popular demand" when so many people oppose it. Then a killer idea came to my head out of the blue, and I decided to do a little math. Please understand that all of these numbers will be estimates. I have no clue what the exact numbers are to the ones digit.

According to the 2000 census, each Congressman represents, on average, approximately 675,000 people. Not all of them are old enough to vote, but let's assume for a minute that they are. That means that there are 293,625,000 people in the United States that the government is supposedly answering to.

Suppose a majority, say 60% (enough to make a cloture in the Senate), of 290 of the 435 Congressional Districts accross 34 states (the two-thirds of the states necessary for an amendment to pass the Senate) petition for an amendment, while only ten percent of the remaining 145 districts do the same. That means that only 109,680,750 have petitioned for this amendment, which is not even a one half majority, much less a two thirds supermajority. However, if this amendment is favored by 290 Representatives and 67 Senators, they can pass the amendment and claim they are giving in to popular demand. I'm not considering the state legislators here, but only because nobody gives a rat's ass about what they're doing anyway.

My Congressman always talks about how difficult it is to amend the Constitution "and our Founding Fathers wisely made it so." Did the founding fathers consider this possibility?
 

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Congress can pass whatever amendment it wants -- until the states ratify it, its meaningless. You can argue all you want about congressmen repreenting X people, etc, but until it passes the states, nothing happens.

There are two things you need to remember about the amendment process:
- The Federal Government cannot change the Constitution -- the document that created said government and gives it all its power -- w/o the consent of the states;
- The states can change the constitution w/o the consent of the Federal Government.

The states are sovereign here - you can't simply dissmiss them with a "nobody gives a rat's ass about what they're doing anyway".
 

dstebbins

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M14 Shooter said:
Congress can pass whatever amendment it wants -- until the states ratify it, its meaningless. You can argue all you want about congressmen repreenting X people, etc, but until it passes the states, nothing happens.

There are two things you need to remember about the amendment process:
- The Federal Government cannot change the Constitution -- the document that created said government and gives it all its power -- w/o the consent of the states;
- The states can change the constitution w/o the consent of the Federal Government.

The states are sovereign here - you can't simply dissmiss them with a "nobody gives a rat's ass about what they're doing anyway".
I'm aware of that. I'm just talking about passing the amendments and presenting them to the state legislatures. I'm talking about how they can get the two thirds necessary to pass the amendment.

Besides, like I said before, nobody pays attention to the votes of state legislatures. State legislatures might feel comfortable ratifying an amendment repealing freedom of speech; you never know.

But let's entertain that arguement for a minute. All we have to do is spread the signatures of the petition accross thirty-seven states instead of thirty-four. A state legislature only gets one vote in the ratifying process, so that wouldn't be a problem.
 

M14 Shooter

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dstebbins said:
But let's entertain that arguement for a minute. All we have to do is spread the signatures of the petition accross thirty-seven states instead of thirty-four. A state legislature only gets one vote in the ratifying process, so that wouldn't be a problem.
Why would the 'signatures of petition' do anything for/with/to the state legislatures? There's still going to be debates, etc, and there may be a great many votes.
 

dstebbins

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M14 Shooter said:
Why would the 'signatures of petition' do anything for/with/to the state legislatures? There's still going to be debates, etc, and there may be a great many votes.
popular demand. That's why. State legislatures could use the excuse of popular demand to, say, ratify the flag protection amendment, even though it's controversial, and get away with it.

You commented on my last paragraph. Try commenting on the other two.
 

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The devil is in the details.

It all depends on the reason for the amendment. The more controversy the less chance of it being passed. It's not hard or difficult, nor is it easy. I don't think it can be properly put into any catagory. It depends.

Amendment XXI is a good example.

Amendments XVI, XVII, & XVIII are examples of bad Amendments. Only Amendment XVIII was reversed. The other two should be reversed as well, that generation I don't know what it was thinking.
 

dstebbins

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mike49 said:
The devil is in the details.

It all depends on the reason for the amendment. The more controversy the less chance of it being passed. It's not hard or difficult, nor is it easy. I don't think it can be properly put into any catagory. It depends.

Amendment XXI is a good example.

Amendments XVI, XVII, & XVIII are examples of bad Amendments. Only Amendment XVIII was reversed. The other two should be reversed as well, that generation I don't know what it was thinking.
When I was talking over the phone to a staff member, I complained about the flag protection amendment. I pointed out that if Congress can just pass a constitutional amendment to restrict symbollic speech, what's to stop them from banning critism of the government? The staff member said, and I quote, "About a hundred million people asked for the flag to be protected. I doubt you can even get ten million people to ban 'critism of the government.'" Keep in mind the words "hundred million people." According to the 2000 census, there are about 298 million people in the United States ( http://www.census.gov/ ). One hundred million people, give or take a few million, is not enough to make it even a simple majority, much less the two thirds supermajority that is needed to pass an amendment.

So why has the House of Representatives passed this amendment? You won't find it in writing. It's purely in the heads of the Congressmen, even though they won't admit it. They saw the opportunity to limit the rights of the American public and seized it. That's all, and they used popular demand as an excuse.
 

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I know of the issue of the flag burning, but I'm unaware of any States action on ratification.

Right now you can burn a flag as a manner of speech and no law can prevent it.

TEXAS v. JOHNSON

Thats the case that brought on the wrath.
 

M14 Shooter

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dstebbins said:
When I was talking over the phone to a staff member, I complained about the flag protection amendment. I pointed out that if Congress can just pass a constitutional amendment to restrict symbollic speech, what's to stop them from banning critism of the government?
Congress can't 'just pass a constitutional amendment'.

And reember -- its not 2/3 majority of the people, but 2/3 majoeiry of the states. 34 states have to pass it, not twice the number of people that vote against it. In this, CA and NY and MA have exactly as much say as MT and SD and AK.

How many states do you suppose would NOT pass a flag-burning amendment?
 

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M14 Shooter said:
Congress can't 'just pass a constitutional amendment'.

And reember -- its not 2/3 majority of the people, but 2/3 majoeiry of the states. 34 states have to pass it, not twice the number of people that vote against it. In this, CA and NY and MA have exactly as much say as MT and SD and AK.

How many states do you suppose would NOT pass a flag-burning amendment?
I never said otherwise. I'm saying that a minority can pass the amendment through the state legislatures if the minority is spread among two thirds of the states. Do you want a minority to be able to push a constitutional amendment through the government that would benifit them and hurt everyone else? Didn't think so.
 

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dstebbins said:
I never said otherwise. I'm saying that a minority can pass the amendment through the state legislatures if the minority is spread among two thirds of the states. Do you want a minority to be able to push a constitutional amendment through the government that would benifit them and hurt everyone else? Didn't think so.
According to the rules, that's how its done.
If its done according to the rules, then its OK.

There are numerous occasions in our system of government where the minority get their way over the majority:

The 1992 Presidential election - >56% of the people did not vote for Bill Clinton, yet he won. The minority got its way over the majority.

How about fillibusters? Another example.

For that matter, the amendment process is another example -- the majorty of the people can want the constitution changed, and a minority can stop them.

Hell -- what about a Veto? 65% of the nation can want something, and one person can say no.

For whatever reason, you seem to think we live in a democracy, We dont. Literally basing your argument on the principle of 'majority rules' will result in any number of instances where your argument doesnt apply to what happens in our government.
 

dstebbins

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M14 Shooter said:
According to the rules, that's how its done.
If its done according to the rules, then its OK.

There are numerous occasions in our system of government where the minority get their way over the majority:

The 1992 Presidential election - >56% of the people did not vote for Bill Clinton, yet he won. The minority got its way over the majority.

How about fillibusters? Another example.

For that matter, the amendment process is another example -- the majorty of the people can want the constitution changed, and a minority can stop them.

Hell -- what about a Veto? 65% of the nation can want something, and one person can say no.

For whatever reason, you seem to think we live in a democracy, We dont. Literally basing your argument on the principle of 'majority rules' will result in any number of instances where your argument doesnt apply to what happens in our government.
EXACTLY! Do we want this in our otherwise-perfect country? That's right, I said "perfect country." If it weren't for our minority problems, America would have long ago acheived a level of high and mighty that not even God, Allah, and Budha working overtime together can ever even dream, much less hope, of accomplishing. If the majority ruled, we'd be out of Iraq now, the flag protection amendment would never have been introduced in the first place, and Gore would have won the 2000 election, not Bush. In short, if the majority ruled, there'd be a lot less controversy, if any at all, because anyone who disagrees with something would have no grounds to argue because the majority ruled, fair and square.

Anyway, I didn't think you wanted it. The only time the minority should rule is in the nullification of an unconstitutional law. The Bill of Rights were made amendments instead of regular laws so that the majority couldn't just abolish them any time they wanted to ban a word from being spoken. For better elaboration, read my thread in the abortion board titled "Why I think abortion should be legal."

btw,...
The 1992 Presidential election - >56% of the people did not vote for Bill Clinton, yet he won. The minority got its way over the majority.
fifty six percent IS a majority, dumbass.
 

M14 Shooter

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dstebbins said:
EXACTLY! Do we want this in our otherwise-perfect country?...In short, if the majority ruled, there'd be a lot less controversy, if any at all, because anyone who disagrees with something would have no grounds to argue because the majority ruled, fair and square.
Apparently, you're completely unaware of the inherent problem of 'majority rule". Democracy w/o protection for the minority is three wolves and a rabit deciding what's for dinner.

And thats why, fairly often, the minority gets its way over the majority.

The minority have "No grounds to argue"? So, if the majority of the people wanted to re-institute clavery...?


fifty six percent IS a majority, dumbass.
Yes, cockbreath -- and 56% of the people did NOT want Clinton as President.

Given your argument, why should Clinton have won either of his elections?
 

dstebbins

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M14 Shooter said:
Apparently, you're completely unaware of the inherent problem of 'majority rule". Democracy w/o protection for the minority is three wolves and a rabit deciding what's for dinner.

And thats why, fairly often, the minority gets its way over the majority.

The minority have "No grounds to argue"? So, if the majority of the people wanted to re-institute clavery...?
I'm not saying that we should not protect the minority. I'm saying that the majority should rule in cases that do no harm to nobody.

And tell me, Mr. Genius, why can't you infer? You know exactly what I meant and what I mean in this post, so why do you have to twist my words making it look like I don't know what I'm talking about? Hmmmmmmmmmm?
 

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dstebbins said:
I'm not saying that we should not protect the minority. I'm saying that the majority should rule in cases that do no harm to nobody.

And tell me, Mr. Genius, why can't you infer? You know exactly what I meant and what I mean in this post, so why do you have to twist my words making it look like I don't know what I'm talking about? Hmmmmmmmmmm?
Every decision does harm to SOMEONE.

Listen. The Constitution was written and enacted by people much smarter than those on this board. They knew what they were doing. It works.

Democracy is mob rule, which is what the founders were most scared of. That's why we're NOT a democracy, thank god.
 

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If amending the Constitution were not difficult, it would have been done more than 27 times in the more than 200 years we have lived under it. Especially telling is the fact that more than a third of those amendments, the first 10, were passed in one fell swoop. That means only 17 more times in the next 200+ years.
 

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dstebbins said:
I'm not saying that we should not protect the minority. I'm saying that the majority should rule in cases that do no harm to nobody.
And when would that apply? When is -no one- harmed by a decision?

And tell me, Mr. Genius, why can't you infer?
Its a lot better for everyone if we all take what is written at face value.

You know exactly what I meant and what I mean in this post, so why do you have to twist my words making it look like I don't know what I'm talking about? Hmmmmmmmmmm?
Because its more and more clear that you don't know what you;re talking about.
 

dstebbins

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RightatNYU said:
Every decision does harm to SOMEONE.

Listen. The Constitution was written and enacted by people much smarter than those on this board. They knew what they were doing. It works.

Democracy is mob rule, which is what the founders were most scared of. That's why we're NOT a democracy, thank god.
oh so now we're kissing the Founding Fathers' asses, eh? Do you think the farmers of 1776 would have excelled any less than the Founding Fathers had they been given equal opportunity? The Founding Fathers were no "smarter" than anyone else in history and were no more educated than the average person of today. They were just among the most educated of the people at that time. Seriously, think about it: Were the Founding Fathers ever given an official IQ test? No, they weren't. While I may be wrong about their intelligence, who says you were right?

What I'm trying to say (since you can't infer what I'm saying) is that I want to see the founding fathers' intelligence on paper before I accept that they were any smarter than the average person.
 

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dstebbins said:
The Founding Fathers were no "smarter" than anyone else in history and were no more educated than the average person of today.
You're joking, right?

They were just among the most educated of the people at that time. Seriously, think about it: Were the Founding Fathers ever given an official IQ test? No, they weren't. While I may be wrong about their intelligence, who says you were right?

What I'm trying to say (since you can't infer what I'm saying) is that I want to see the founding fathers' intelligence on paper before I accept that they were any smarter than the average person.
So to you, an IQ test is a measure of intelligence?

Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but to me, intelligence is shown by

Education
Ability to think and write clearly
Interpersonal skills
Ability to negotiate and resolve conflict
Ability to achieve change

I think that madison et al pretty much exemplify these characteristics.
 

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dstebbins said:
What I'm trying to say (since you can't infer what I'm saying) is that I want to see the founding fathers' intelligence on paper before I accept that they were any smarter than the average person.
You dont like that they wrote, so you question their intelligence?
Yer a loon.
 

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RightatNYU said:
You're joking, right?



So to you, an IQ test is a measure of intelligence?

Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but to me, intelligence is shown by

Education
Ability to think and write clearly
Interpersonal skills
Ability to negotiate and resolve conflict
Ability to achieve change

I think that madison et al pretty much exemplify these characteristics.
intelligence-
a. the capacity to acqire and apply knowledge.
b. the faculty of thought and reason.
c. superior powers of the mind.


according to definitions a and b, intelligence is a measure of the ability to learn, not what you already know.
 

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dstebbins said:
What I'm trying to say (since you can't infer what I'm saying) is that I want to see the founding fathers' intelligence on paper before I accept that they were any smarter than the average person.
Well they left no shortage of their writings, from our founding documents to their letters and in many cases books they wrote. Try reading them.

Our founders warts and all, were an amazing collection of people with many amazing qualities, not the least of which was intelligence, several were way over the genius line IMHO.
 

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Vandeervecken said:
Well they left no shortage of their writings, from our founding documents to their letters and in many cases books they wrote. Try reading them.

Our founders warts and all, were an amazing collection of people with many amazing qualities, not the least of which was intelligence, several were way over the genius line IMHO.
just because they wrote a lot of good books doesn't mean they're any smarter than the average person. How do you know they weren't taught how to write like that?

My son is in 9th grade, and he used to be so terrible at writing that he was in remediation English (I kid you not). When, in sixth grade, he was asked to address a writing prompt that said he made a thousand dollars over the summer; how would he spend it. I was shocked by how terrible it was.
My son said:
Well first I'd buy a PS2 then I'd buy a couple games to go with it and then...
When he came out of 8th grade, he scored honorable mention in the newspaper's writing contest. He could write like a newspaper journalist. Why? Because he was taught!

So how do we know the founding fathers didn't start their lives that way and were taught how to do "smart stuff?"
 

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dstebbins said:
just because they wrote a lot of good books doesn't mean they're any smarter than the average person. How do you know they weren't taught how to write like that?

My son is in 9th grade, and he used to be so terrible at writing that he was in remediation English (I kid you not). When, in sixth grade, he was asked to address a writing prompt that said he made a thousand dollars over the summer; how would he spend it. I was shocked by how terrible it was.

When he came out of 8th grade, he scored honorable mention in the newspaper's writing contest. He could write like a newspaper journalist. Why? Because he was taught!

So how do we know the founding fathers didn't start their lives that way and were taught how to do "smart stuff?"
They demonstrated their intelligence. Intellect without deed is worthless. I do not care how natively smart someone might be, if they do not use that, and make that intellect perform deeds they are idiots.

Your semantic game is amusing but worthless. The genetically smarted person in all of history is an idiot if they do nothing with it.

Intellect is far more than native ability, it is how you use your native ability.
 

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Vandeervecken said:
They demonstrated their intelligence. Intellect without deed is worthless. I do not care how natively smart someone might be, if they do not use that, and make that intellect perform deeds they are idiots.

Your semantic game is amusing but worthless. The genetically smarted person in all of history is an idiot if they do nothing with it.

Intellect is far more than native ability, it is how you use your native ability.
that's not the point. How do you know the average joe of that time, the one who never had a second of formal schooling, would have been any less qualified to attend the Constitutional Convention had they had the opportunities the the Founding Fathers had? Sure, they may have demonstrated their intelligence, but they must first have the intelligence to demonstrate. Do you think a regular person of 1776 would have refused to demonstrate their intelligence had they been given the opportunity of education?

What I'm trying to say is the Founding Fathers merely had opportunities that few people had at that time. They were no more gifted intelligently then a farmer. They merely had more opportunities.
 
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