Article VII: Amendments; Petitions; Panel of Scribes

Article VII: Constitutional Amendments; Citizens’ Petitions; Panel of Scribes[1]

Section 1. Citizen Petitions; Initiative and Referendum; Power to Amend

Any citizen may initiate a petition to create a new federal statute, repeal an existing federal statute, amend this Constitution II, or call for a constitutional convention. A new Citizens Petition becomes a Validated Citizens Petition after it has been signed by 500,000 voters. A Validated Citizens Petition will be vetted by a Panel of Scribes.

A constitutional amendment may also be proposed by an Act of Congress, approved by a 60% majority in both chambers.

The power to adopt a proposed amendment to this Constitution II of the United States rests solely with the citizens of the United States.

Section 2. Panel of Scribes

2.1 Composition

The Panel of Scribes consists of three published authors, selected for their ability to compose clear and concise prose. They shall be nominated during the first year of each presidential term of office, as follows:

The Chief Justice of the United States, by February 1, shall nominate a lawyer;

The Speaker of the House, by April 1, shall nominate a journalist; and

The Vice President of the United States, acting as the presiding officer of the Senate, by June 1, shall nominate a poet, novelist, or other author, who will also serve as the Chair of the Panel of Scribes.

Either chamber of Congress, by majority vote taken within one month after a Scribe has been nominated, can disapprove that nomination; in which case, the nominating official shall nominate a replacement within one month after the disapproved nominee shall have been disapproved.

The Panel of Scribes takes office when all three Scribes have been nominated and the period during which their nominations can be rejected by either chamber has ended.

2.2 Eligibility and Compensation

All three Scribes must be citizens and registered voters and must have voted in at least one of the last two presidential elections. All must be published authors. None of them can be a public official. They must reside in three different states. At least one of them must be male, and at least one of them must be female.

While the Panel of Scribes is in session, Scribes shall be compensated at the rate of $1 per day, or as otherwise provided by Congress. Travel and per diem expenses of each Scribe and administrative expenses of the Panel shall also be reimbursed by the US Treasury.

Section 3. Duties and Responsibilities

All Validated Citizens Petitions will be submitted to the Panel of Scribes. A constitutional amendment proposed by an Act of Congress will also be submitted to the Panel of Scribes.

The Panel of Scribes will make any necessary changes to a Validated Citizens Petition to ensure that the wording is clear, accurate, and consistent. For both a Validated Citizens Petition and a constitutional amendment proposed by Congress, the Panel will also create and approve a summary statement of the arguments for and against the proposal. The revised proposal, including the summary and the pro- and con-arguments, will then be published and circulated generally.

Section 4. Meetings

The Panel of Scribes shall convene for one session every four years, beginning on September 1 of the year in which nominated or one month after the Panel takes office, whichever is later. This session continues until the Panel has published every Validated Citizens Petition and every constitutional amendment proposed by Congress received before the Panel session began, after which the Panel of Scribes shall adjourn sine die.

The President of the Senate, at his discretion, may convene one additional extraordinary session of the Panel of Scribes, after its one compulsory session has been adjourned, and before the next presidential election year begins.

Section 5. Decisions of the Citizens

5.1 For a Validated Citizens Petition:

After publication by the Panel of Scribes, petitioners have two years in which to gather sufficient signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

A Successful Petition is one that is signed by at least 1% of the number of voters for President in the most recent presidential general election, including at least 1% of the voters in 60% of the states. A Successful Petition will appear on the ballot at the next Congressional general election.

5.2 For a Constitutional Amendment proposed by an Act of Congress:

After publication by the Panel of Scribes, the proposed Amendment will appear on the ballot at the next Congressional general election.

5.3 Results of the Referendum:

If a ballot measure to create a new federal statute, repeal an existing federal statute, or convene a constitutional convention is approved by a majority of all votes cast, including a majority of the votes cast in a majority of the states, then the ballot measure succeeds. To wit: the new federal statute becomes law, or the existing federal statute is repealed, or a constitutional convention is convened.

If a ballot measure which proposes a constitutional amendment (whether initiated by a Citizens Petition or by an Act of Congress) is approved by a majority of all votes cast, including a majority of the votes cast in 60% of the states containing 60% of the U.S. population, then the proposed constitutional amendment becomes part of this Constitution II.

[1] Article VII is entirely new.

Article VI: Elections

Article VI: Elections[1]

Section 1. General Provisions

1.1 Voter registration

Congress shall establish a National Voter Registration Authority, which will

  • create a national database of registered voters, to be shared with all jurisdictions that conduct elections,
  • prevent the national database of registered voters from unauthorized disclosure or access from unauthorized entities,
  • ensure that the national database of registered voters is used for no other purpose than voter registration, authentication, and authorization,
  • assign to each voter a unique Voter Identifier which remains with that voter for life, This unique Voter Identifier cannot be used for any purpose other than voting,
  • maintain for each voter both their legal (voting) address and current contact information,
  • accept and process voter registration applications from all eligible citizens,
  • automatically register each citizen to vote upon their 18th birthday,
  • automatically register each citizen to vote, or verify his/her earlier registration, whenever a citizen interacts with a state or federal government entity,
  • remove a voter who has deceased, and
  • establish appropriate means of voter authentication and authorization to vote.[2]

1.2 Conduct of elections

All elections are conducted by the several states and by any other United States territories or possessions so authorized by Congress.[3] A secret ballot is guaranteed. Votes may be cast by mail provided such votes are received by the last day of the election; votes may also be cast in person for nine days, ending on the last Sunday of the election, except that a state may choose to conduct its entire election by mail.[4]

1.3 Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)[5] is mandatory for all federal elections. After selecting their 1st choice for any office, voters are allowed (but not required) to also select a 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on, limited only by the number of names on the ballot.

The procedure for counting ballots is different for an election with a single winner and for an election with multiple winners:

RCV procedure for counting ballots when an election has only one winner:

  • If one candidate has a majority of the 1st choice votes, that candidate is the winner.
  • If no candidate has a majority of the 1st choice votes, then the following steps are repeated until one candidate has a majority of the total vote:
    • The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the votes for that candidate are reassigned to each voter’s next highest choice among the remaining candidates.
    • If a voter did not make a choice for any of the surviving candidates, then that ballot is exhausted and is no longer counted as part of the total vote.

RCV procedure for counting ballots when an election has multiple winners:

  • Definition of variables:
    • N = number of winners for an election with multiple winners.
    • Threshold Percent (T%) Plus One Vote (T%+1): The share of the total vote that guarantees a candidate’s victory. The formula for T%+1 is 100%/(N+1), + 1 vote.
    • Actual Threshold (AT): The number of votes needed to win a particular election, defined as the total votes cast multiplied by T%, plus one vote.
    • Winner’s Votes (WV): The number of votes earned by a winning candidate.
    • Winner’s Percent (W%): For a winning candidate, the portion of each voter’s vote needed to reach the Actual Threshold, calculated as WV/AT.
    • Excess Percent (E%): For a winning candidate, the portion of each voter’s vote that can be reassigned to each voter’s next highest choice. It is calculated as 100% – W%.
  • If N or fewer candidates were on the ballot, all candidates are winners and the election is done.
  • The first step in applying RCV is to calculate T% and AT for this election.
  • If more than N candidates were on the ballot, any candidate whose 1st choice votes meet or exceed the AT is a winner. If N candidates meet the AT, then all these candidates are winners and the election is done.
  • If fewer than N candidates meet the AT, then the following steps are repeated, until N candidates meet the AT or only N candidates remain:
    • For any candidate who has won, W% is calculated, and then E% is calculated. E% of each of the winning candidate’s voter’s vote is then reassigned to that voter’s next highest choice (among candidates neither elected nor eliminated).
    • The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and all the votes for that candidate are reassigned to each voter’s next highest choice (among candidates neither elected nor eliminated).

1.4 Open primaries

Open primaries are mandatory for all federal elections (for President, Vice President, and both chambers of Congress).[6] Open primaries are non-partisan; the party affiliation of a candidate, if any, will be indicated on the ballot. All registered voters are eligible to vote in every primary and general election within the jurisdiction where they legally reside.

Any eligible candidate may compete in any open primary, subject to state rules for qualifying for the ballot. The results of the primaries determine the candidates whose names will appear on the general election ballot. Those eligible to compete in the general election may withdraw within one week after they have been certified to appear on the general election ballot.

1.5 Fundraising and transparency

No candidate for a federal office may personally engage in fundraising nor appear at a fundraising event while Congress is in session, that is, before July 4 of the election year, unless Congress adjourns sine die before that date.

To appear on a primary ballot, a candidate must authorize the US Treasury to release, two weeks after the National Primary, the five most recent tax returns of that candidate and his or her spouse, if that candidate qualifies for the general election, and if that candidate does not withdraw as a candidate before such tax returns are released. Each general election candidate must also release, on the same schedule, a statement of net worth, showing his/her complete assets and liabilities and those of his/her spouse.[7]

By the Sunday after the National Primary, any candidate who has qualified to appear on any general election ballot may withdraw as a candidate.

Section 2. Elections for President and Vice President

2.1 Elections and Terms of Office.

The President and the Vice President shall be elected directly by the voters in years evenly divisible by four.[8] Votes for President and for Vice President in both the primary and general elections shall be cast and counted by Congressional District (CD). In counting ballots, RCV procedures are used to determine the single winner in each CD.

Congress shall establish a National Vote Tabulation Authority, whose responsibility is to collect from the states the results of the primary and general elections for President and for Vice President, to tabulate and summarize the results, and announce the winners.

The four-year term of office for President and for Vice President shall commence at noon on the second Sunday in January following their election. 

2.2 Primary Elections for President

The total Nominating Votes for President equals the number of seats in the House of Representatives, plus the number of Nominating Votes from non-state jurisdictions.

  • Each CD has the same number of Nominating Votes as it has seats in the House of Representatives.
  • Congress may authorize certain jurisdictions other than states to participate in presidential primaries (Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and other territories and possessions). All such jurisdictions taken together are considered one Non-State Primary Election District. For each 1 million inhabitants or portion thereof, this Non-State Primary Election District is awarded one Nominating Vote.
  • The primary election shall be held at large in each CD and in the one Non-State Primary Election District, and the winner of the primary election shall be awarded all of that jurisdiction’s Nominating Votes.

The candidates for President who qualify for the general election ballot are determined through three rounds of primary elections, including four states in Round 1, ten states in Round 2, and all other states and non-state jurisdictions in Round 3.

Unless Congress adopts a different scheme for selecting the states for Rounds 1 and 2, Round 1 primaries will occur in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and New Mexico; and Round 2 primaries will occur in 10 states who volunteer for that duty. If more than 10 states apply, random selection will be used to select 10 of them; if fewer than 10 apply, random selection from the remaining states will be used to round out the 10.

Any candidate who meets a state’s requirements to appear on the primary ballot for President will appear on the primary ballot in that state. In addition, any candidate who earns at least one Nominating Vote in a Round 1 or a Round 2 presidential primary automatically qualifies to appear on the ballot in all remaining presidential primaries.

At the conclusion of the three rounds of presidential primaries, any candidate who has received at least 15% of the total Nominating Votes qualifies for the general election ballot for President in all states. If fewer than three candidates achieve the 15% threshold, then the three candidates with the most Nominating Votes qualify for the general election ballot in all states. In addition, any candidate who has won at least one Nominating Vote in any state qualifies for the general election ballot in all CDs in that state. No other candidate will appear on the general election ballot for President in any state.

Any candidate who withdraws as a presidential candidate within one week after Round 2 of the presidential primaries may become a candidate for Vice President, for the Senate, or for the House. A person can be a candidate for only one federal office at a time.

2.3. Primary Election for Vice President[9]

The total Nominating Votes for Vice President equals the total Nominating Votes for President, determined in the same manner.

The primary election for Vice President takes place as part of the National Primary in all jurisdictions.

Any candidate who meets a state’s requirements to appear on the primary ballot for Vice President will appear on the primary ballot in that state.

Anyone who was a candidate for President in Rounds 1 and/or 2, who won at least one Nominating Vote, and who then withdrew from the presidential contest, automatically qualifies as a candidate for Vice President in all jurisdictions, unless that candidate withdraws from consideration as a vice presidential candidate.

The primary election for Vice President shall be held at large in each CD and in the one Non-State Primary Election District, and the winner of the primary election shall be awarded all of that jurisdiction’s Nominating Votes.

At the conclusion of the primary election for Vice President, any candidate who has received at least 15% of the total Nominating Votes qualifies for the general election ballot for Vice President in all states. If fewer than three candidates achieve the 15% threshold, then the three candidates with the most Nominating Votes qualify for the general election ballot in all states. In addition, any candidate who has won at least one Nominating Vote in any state qualifies for the general election ballot in all CDs in that state. No other candidate will appear on the general election ballot for Vice President in any state.

2.4 Local-State-National (L-S-N) general election voting system for President and for Vice President

Separate general elections for President and for Vice President will take place on the date specified for the General Election for all federal offices. The winner of each election is determined by Electoral Votes. The total Electoral Votes for President and for Vice President equals the number of seats in the House of Representatives, plus twice the number of states.

The L-S-N voting system determines the winner at each level – local, state, and national. Using the RCV procedure for an election with one winner, the winner within each CD will be awarded all the Electoral Votes for that CD; in each state, the state-wide winner will be awarded one additional Electoral Vote; and the winner of the national popular vote will be awarded one additional Electoral Vote for each state in the Union.

If one candidate has earned a majority of all Electoral Votes, that candidate will be declared the winner and will become the President-elect or Vice President-elect.

If no candidate has a majority of the Electoral Votes, then all but the top two candidates will be eliminated, and a final round of ballot counting using the RCV procedure for a single winner will take place, in order to determine the voters’ preference among the two remaining candidates. When the Electoral Votes are reassigned to the two remaining candidates, the one with a majority of all Electoral Votes will be the winner. If these last two candidates are tied, then the winner of the national popular vote will be the winner.[10]

Section 3. Elections for Members of Congress

Elections for Congress shall occur in even-numbered years. In each such election cycle, all Members of the House shall be elected for two-year terms, and one Class of the three Senate Classes shall be elected for six-year terms. Their terms of office shall begin at noon on the first Sunday in January following their election.

If a state has fewer than six House seats, then all House members will be elected at-large, that is, in one Congressional District (CD). For states with six or more House seats, the state shall be divided into multi-seat CD’s, with no fewer than three and no more than five seats per CD. The number of CD’s in each state shall equal the number of Senators allocated to that state. The number of seats in each CD shall not differ by more than one.[11] CD’s shall be drawn using Zip Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTA’s) from the 2010 Census in numerical order, equalizing the population per House seat of each CD as far as possible.

Each CD will elect one Senator, provided, however, that a state’s voters, by a majority vote in a referendum, may choose to elect all its Senators at large.

For primaries in elections for a single seat in the House or Senate, the number of successful candidates is three. For primaries in elections for multiple seats, the number of successful candidates is double the number of seats being contested. The RCV procedure for an election with multiple winners will be applied to reach the requisite number of primary winners, provided at least that many candidates are on the primary ballot. No candidate, other than those who qualify through this primary process, will appear on the general election ballot.

In the general election, the RCV procedure for single-winner elections will determine the winner of an election for a single seat, while the RCV procedure for multi-winner elections will determine the winners in multi-winner contests.

Section 4. Dates of Primary and General Elections, Convening of Congress, and Inauguration

Federal elections for Congress occur in even-numbered years; presidential and vice presidential elections occur in years evenly divisible by four. For each primary or general election, the nine-day period for in-person voting ends on the following days:

Presidential Primary Round 1: Last Sunday in August

Presidential Primary Round 2: Last Sunday in September

National Primary (which includes Presidential Primary Round 3, Vice Presidential Primary, and Congressional Primary for House and Senate): Last Sunday in October

General Election: Second Sunday in December

Convening the new Congress: Noon on the first Sunday in January following their election

Inauguration of the new President and Vice President: Noon on the second Sunday in January following their election.[12]

Section 5. Continuance in Office

To continue in office, all federal elected officials, by October 1 of each year, must authorize the US Treasury to release the five most recent tax returns of that official and his or her spouse. Each official must also release, on the same schedule, a statement of net worth, showing his/her complete assets and liabilities and those of his/her spouse.

Every federal elected official is prohibited from hiring, nominating, or appointing any member of his/her immediate family to any position within the Federal Government.

[1] Article VI is entirely new, though it preserves certain fundamental principles of the 1787 Constitution, federal law, and traditional practices, especially the guarantee of a secret ballot, Congressional districting within each state based on population, and elections conducted by the states.

[2] Previous initiatives to accomplish this have foundered on fears of a national identification system, with citizens concerned about too much power in the hands of Government. In the case of the Social Security number, we have managed to negotiate through similar concerns by restricting the use of the SSN to tax matters and preventing its use as a general citizen ID number. We are now creating Medicare ID numbers, used exclusively for Medicare. The same will apply here. The Voter-ID can only be used for purposes of voter registration, authentication, and authorization. Authentication involves proving that you are who you say you are; authorization involves proving that you (having already been authenticated) are authorized to do what you plan to do.

[3] The current, well-established system gives the responsibility for conducting elections to the states. There is no compelling reason to change this.

[4] This provision establishes mail-in voting, early voting, and in-person voting for all federal elections.

[5] Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is an improved system of casting and counting votes which makes democracy more fair, functional, and representative of the electorate. For voters, it is simple to implement: Voters rank order their choices for each office – 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on. Candidates campaign not only for 1st choice votes, but also for 2nd and even 3rd choice votes. When an election has only one winner, such as the general election for a single Senator, RCV ensures that the winner has support from a majority of voters. When an election has multiple winners, such as a city council or a multi-seat Congressional district, RCV helps to ensure that all widely supported views are represented, and that all winners are supported by a significant percentage of the electorate. See http://www.fairvote.org/rcv#how_rcv_works to read how it works in detail.

[6] When the United States began, the Founding Fathers were very concerned about the formation of “factions” (that is, political parties), which could do great damage to the functioning of the Republic. Obviously, we have become wedded to the dominance of political parties in every phase and at every level of our politics. This Constitution II gives us a renewed opportunity to move away from “factions”. One such improvement would be the adoption of open primaries, in which all candidates compete (regardless of party affiliation) and in which all voters can vote.

[7] This provision requires all general election candidates to be completely transparent with respect to their personal finances.

[8] One of the most important democratic improvements of Constitution II is the direct election of the president by the voters.

[9] The vice president has become president 14 times in our history, either through the death or resignation of the president or through a subsequent election in which a sitting vice president is seen as having a considerable built-in advantage over any other presidential aspirant. Therefore, in a democracy, it is reasonable that the people should choose the second-most important job under our Constitution, rather than leaving that selection to a single person, who, at the time the decision is made, has not yet been elected as president.

[10] As long as the number of seats in the House is an odd number, an Electoral Vote tie between the last two candidates is impossible.

[11] Were this system in use today, based on a House of Representatives with 435 seats, 24 states would elect all of its representatives at-large, which goes a long way towards solving the gerrymandering problem.

[12] This provision shortens the interregnum between the election and the inauguration of a new president.

Article V: Debts, Supremacy, and Oaths

Article V: Debts, Supremacy, and Oaths[1]

All debts contracted and engagements entered into before the adoption of this Constitution II shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution II as under the 1787 Constitution.[2]

The notion of a “national debt ceiling” has no meaning or merit whatsoever. When Congress legislates expenditures from the United States Treasury and the Treasury borrows money to make those expenditures, then the resulting debts are a sovereign debt of this nation and must be repaid.[3]

This Constitution II and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof and all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution II; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

[1] Except for the paragraph in italics, this entire article is copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article VI.

[2] The 1787 Constitution contained basically the same idea in the first paragraph of Article VI, but in that case it referred to the validity of debts of the United States entered into under the Articles of Confederation.

[3] This provision simply makes it clear that, when the United States borrows money, the debt must be repaid.

Article IV: The Judicial Branch

Article IV: The Judicial Branch

Section 1 – Judicial Powers

1.1 Federal Courts. The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the Supreme Court and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior; and shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.[1] All federal judges appointed to office under the 1787 Constitution shall continue in office under this Constitution II.[2]

1.2 Composition of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court shall consist of nine Justices, presided over by the Chief Justice of the United States.[3] If, when Constitution II comes into effect, the Supreme Court shall have more than nine Justices, then, as Justices leave office, seats in excess of nine shall not be replaced.[4]

Section 2 – Judicial Power, Original Jurisdiction, and Jury Trials

2.1 Judicial Review. The judicial power extends to judicial review of acts of the Legislative branch, in order to judge whether such acts are in conformance with this Constitution II, and the federal courts shall have the power to invalidate any law, or any part of any law, found by the courts not to be in compliance with this Constitution II. The judicial power also extends to judicial review of all acts of the Executive branch, in order to judge whether such acts are in conformance with this Constitution II and with laws duly enacted by Congress, and the federal courts shall have the power to invalidate any such acts, found by the courts not to be in compliance with this Constitution II or the laws of the United States. In conducting judicial reviews of both the Legislative and the Executive branches, federal courts may consider both the inscribed provisions of this Constitution II and laws enacted by Congress, as well as their intent.  [5]

2.2 Judicial Power. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution II, the laws of the United States and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more states; between a state and citizens of another state; between citizens of different states; between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.[6]

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.[7]

2.3 Original Jurisdiction. In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.[8]

2.4 Jury Trials. The trial of all crimes, except in cases of Impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.[9]

Section 3 – Treason[10]

Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against the United States or in adhering to the enemies of the United States, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood[11] or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

[1] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article III Section 1.

[2] This sentence ensures continuity of the federal judiciary when this Constitution II goes into effect.

[3] This new provision fixes the size of the Supreme Court at nine justices.

[4] Future presidents will not be able to “pack the Supreme Court” in order to get a Supreme Court more favorable to the President, nor will Congress be able to prevent the President from filling vacancies on the Supreme Court. This particular check-and-balance is missing from the 1787 Constitution.

[5] This provision incorporates into this Constitution II the principle of judicial review, which has been practiced and followed under the 1787 Constitution ever since the Marbury v. Madison decision in 1803.

[6] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article III Section 2.

[7] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 11.

[8] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article III Section 2.

[9] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article III Section 2.

[10] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article III Section 3.

[11] Corruption of blood, in British law, resulted from an act of attainder, and prevented the person attainted from inheriting, owning, or bequeathing any civil rights, property, rank, or titles. Typically, an attainted person was executed. If the bill of attainder also included corruption of blood, then the attainted person’s children could not inherit. This provision is copied directly from the 1787 Constitution, Article III Section 3. But the entire sentence appears to conflict directly with the prohibition on passing any bill of attainder, as provided by the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 9 – Limits on Congress, and Article I Section 10 – Powers prohibited of States. All three of these clauses were accepted unaltered into Constitution II, without resolving this apparent inconsistency.

Article III: The Executive Branch

Article III: The Executive Branch

Section 1 – The President and Vice President

1.1 The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He/she shall hold office for a four-year term, and, together with the Vice President chosen for the same term, be elected[1] in accordance with Article VI – Elections.[2]

1.2 Eligibility for the offices of President and Vice President:[3] Upon taking office, both the President and the Vice President must be

  • At least 35 years old,
  • A natural-born citizen of the United States,
  • At least 14 years a resident within the United States, and
  • Less than 6 years the President of the United States.

1.3 Lack of a qualified President elect: If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified.[4] If neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall become the Acting President, and the first duty of the Acting President shall be to arrange for new presidential elections as soon as practicable, or to pursue whatever actions are necessary to qualify the President elect or the Vice President elect; but the Acting President shall also carry out all the duties of the President until a properly-elected President or Vice President shall have qualified.[5]

1.4 Vacancy in the office of President or Vice President:[6]

  1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
  2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both chambers of Congress.
  3. Whenever the President transmits to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
  4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two thirds vote of both chambers that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

1.5 Duties of the Vice President: The Vice President, as provided in Article II, is the presiding officer of the Senate. He is also a member of the President’s Cabinet and shall carry out such other lawful duties as the President may direct.[7]

1.6 Compensation: At stated times the President and the Vice President[8] shall receive for their services a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which they shall have been elected, and they shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States or any of them.[9]

1.7 Oath of Office[10]: Before the President enters on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend this Constitution II of the United States.”

Section 2 – Civilian Power over Military; the Cabinet, Pardon Power, and Appointments

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.[11]

As Commander in Chief, the President may order the use of military force in a war properly declared by Congress in accordance with Article II Section 8. In the absence of a declaration of war, the President may employ military force to defend the United States or its allies, or for such other purposes as the President deems necessary in the national interest of the United States, provided that the President notifies Congress within 48 hours of the beginning of such a military operation, and provided also that Congress approves of such use within 60 days after such a military operation commences.[12]

He shall have Power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint Justices of the Supreme Court, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;[13] and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, federal judges of inferior courts, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.[14]

In all cases of presidential nominations, if the Senate fails to approve or disapprove a nomination within 60 calendar days after the President has made the nomination, the President may appoint the nominee, and the nominee may temporarily assume the position to which he was nominated, pending Senate action on that nomination. Such temporary appointments expire when the Senate acts, or when a new Congress convenes, whichever comes first.[15]

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess or adjournment of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.[16]

Section 3 – State of the Union, and Convening Congress

He shall from time to time give to the Congress information on the state of the Union, and recommend for their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both chambers, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.[17]

In carrying out his responsibility to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, the President may issue Executive Orders which have the same effect as the law upon which the Executive Order is based, provided that any Executive Order will have an effective date not less than thirty days from its issuance, and provided further that either chamber by majority vote taken during that 30-day waiting period may prevent any Executive Order from coming into effect.[18]

Section 4 – Disqualification [19]

The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

[1] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 1.

[2] All election procedures in Constitution II appear in Article VI.

[3] Adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 1 and Amendment 12. One eligibility requirement has been deleted, namely, the requirement that the president and the vice president reside in different states. Since the election of the president has been completely separated from the election of the vice president, but both elections occur at the same time, we cannot know ahead of time which state the winning candidate in either the presidential or the vice presidential contest will come from.

[4] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 20.

[5] This is a new provision, which provides an elected official with a national mandate (the Speaker of the House) as a caretaker president, until a properly-elected president can assume the office.

[6] The remainder of this section is copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 25.

[7] This provides additional specificity to the duties of the vice president.

[8] Both the president and the vice president shall be compensated for their service.

[9] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 1.

[10] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 1.

[11] This provision is copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 2.

[12] This provision codifies the Authorized Use of Military Force doctrine within Constitution II.

[13] Lifetime appointment of a Supreme Court justice is a matter that should be carefully considered and receive the approval of two-thirds of the Senate. In the past, this notion has been imposed by the use or threatened use of the filibuster, but since the filibuster is eliminated in Constitution II, it is advisable to require a two-thirds majority for Supreme Court appointments.

[14] Except for the clause in italics, this provision is copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 2.

[15] Senate inaction on presidential nominations has become habitual, ordinary, and utterly ridiculous in terms of the smooth functioning of Government. This is especially (but not only) true of the judiciary. The federal judicial system cannot function without adequate judges on the bench. This provision ensures that nominees will be approved or disapproved within two months of their nomination, or they will be allowed to serve without Senate confirmation.

[16] This provision is copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 2. The words “or adjournment” were added.

[17] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 3.

[18] This new provision allows the President to issue Executive Orders with 30-day advance notice to Congress, but also allows either chamber of Congress to block an EO during that 30-day waiting period. The purpose is to restore some balance between unbounded presidential power and a Congress that refuses to act. With this new provision, the President has the authority he needs, while congress has the authority to limit the President. No longer will Congress be able to hide. If both chambers allow an EO to be implemented, then they must share some degree of ownership with that EO. These are new ideas: Executive Orders were not addressed in the 1787 Constitutionj.

[19] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 4.

Article II: The Legislative Branch

Article II: The Legislative Branch

Section 1: The Legislature[1]

All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a lower chamber, known as the House of Representatives, and an upper chamber, known as the Senate.[2]

Section 2: The House of Representatives

2.1 Composition

The House of Representatives shall be composed of 501 Members chosen every second year by the voters of the several states in accordance with Article VI — Elections. Congress may modify the number of members by law, provided that the number of House seats must be an odd number.[3]

Seats in the House of Representatives shall be apportioned among the states during the first year of each new decade, based on the average number of voters who voted in each state in the two most recent presidential general elections; but each state shall have at least one Representative. Each Representative shall have one vote.[4]

2.2 Eligibility[5]

When he/she takes office, a Member of the House of Representative must be

  • At least 25 years old;
  • At least 7 years a citizen of the United States;
  • Less than 19 years a Member of the House of Representatives;[6] and
  • A resident of the state from which he/she shall have been chosen.

2.3 Vacancies[7]

When vacancies happen in the representation from any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.

2.4 Officers; Power of Impeachment[8]

The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers and shall have the sole power of impeachment.

Section 3: The Senate

3.1 Composition[9]

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of Senators from each state, chosen by the voters for a six-year term of office; and each Senator shall have one vote.  The number of Senators from each state is one fifth of the number of Representatives from that state, with fractions always rounded up, so that each state will have at least one Senator.[10]

Seats in the Senate shall be divided as equally as they may be into three classes (Class I, Class II, and Class III). For any state, the number of seats assigned to each Class shall be the same, as nearly as possible. One Class shall be elected every two years. Thus one-third of the total Senate, and one-third of the Senate seats from each state, shall be elected every two years.[11]

When, due to the decennial Congressional reapportionment, the number of Senators for any state is decreased, the next Senator from that state whose six-year term of office is expiring shall not be replaced after his term expires. When the number of Senators from any state is increased, a new Senator from that state shall be elected at the next election, and that seat will be assigned to Class 1, 2, or 3, so that, as far as possible, one third of the Senate remains elected every two years, and one third of the Senators from each state remains elected every two years.[12]

The first election cycle following reapportionment will include separate primary and general elections for all three Senate classes. This will include elections for 6-year terms for all the seats in the class normally scheduled for elections that year, as well as elections for 4-year terms and for 2-year terms for those seats in the other two classes which do not have an incumbent.

The election of Senators shall take place in accordance with Article VI – Elections.

3.2 Eligibility[13]

When he/she takes office, a Senator must be

  • At least 30 years old;
  • At least 9 years a citizen of the United States;
  • Less than 17 years a Senator;[14] and
  • A resident of the state from which he/she shall have been chosen.

3.3 Vacancies[15]

When vacancies happen in the representation of any state, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.

3.4 Officers; Power of Impeachment[16]

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall choose their other officers, including a President pro tempore, who shall preside over the Senate in the absence of the Vice President or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President or Vice President[17] of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.

Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.

Section 4 – Meetings

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall commence on the first Sunday in January, unless Congress shall by law appoint a different day.

Wednesdays through Sundays from 4pm to 10pm, except federal holidays, are designated as legislative days. When Congress is in session, it shall meet on designated legislative days, unless Congress adopts a different schedule.[18] Either chamber, when it does not meet with a quorum of members present for three consecutive legislative days, shall be deemed to be in recess.[19]

Section 5 – Membership, Rules, Journals, and Adjournment[20]

Each chamber shall be the Judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each chamber may provide.

All decisions taken within each chamber shall be by majority vote of members present, except for those specific items in this Constitution II requiring a two-thirds or a three-fifths vote. [21]

Any member may make a motion to call a bill, a resolution, or a presidential appointment to the floor for a vote; and, if a majority of members present concur, that bill, resolution, or appointment shall become the first order of business in that chamber on the next legislative day; and at that time, such bill, resolution, or appointment will, by majority vote, be either approved, disapproved, or tabled for later consideration.[22]

Each chamber may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.

Each chamber shall keep a Journal of its proceedings and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either chamber on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.

Neither chamber, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two chambers shall be sitting.

In even-numbered years (that is, election years), Congress shall adjourn sine die no later than July 4. Unless called back into session by the President of the United States due to a national emergency, Congress shall not reconvene until the convening of the new Congress following the election.[23]

Section 6 – Compensation[24]

Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. However, no law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any office under the authority of the United States or any state which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either chamber during his continuance in office. [25]

Senators and Representatives shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective chambers, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either chamber, they shall not be questioned in any other place.

Section 7 – Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, and Presidential Veto[26]

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.

The earliest effective date of any bill, when enacted by Congress, shall be July 1st following the next Congressional election after passage of the bill. An earlier effective date can only be enacted if (1) the sole purpose of the bill is to repeal a bill which has not yet gone into effect, or (2) an earlier date is agreed to by three-fifths of members present in both chambers upon final passage of the bill.[27]

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approves the bill, he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that chamber in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that chamber shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other chamber, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that chamber, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both chambers shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each chamber respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

Section 8 – Powers of Congress[28]

The Congress shall have power as follows:

To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.[29]

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post offices;

To conduct a census or enumeration of the United States and to maintain estimated census figures at all times. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct;[30]

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by conducting and sponsoring scientific research and cultural and artistic endeavors;[31]

To secure for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries, provided, however, that copyright protection shall not exceed 50 years, and patent protection shall not exceed 25 years;[32]

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare war, authorize privateers and other military proxies,[33] and make rules concerning captures wherever they may occur;

To raise and support the Armed Forces[34] of the United States (on land, on sea, in the air, and in cyberspace);

To make rules for the government and regulation of the Armed Forces;

To provide for calling forth state militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections, and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the state militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively the appointment of the officers and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To protect the environment, and to provide for public health and safety by ensuring access to clean and safe water, air, energy, medicines, and the food supply;[35]

To provide financial assistance to the several states, based on the unique needs of each state, for infrastructure projects, for emergency relief from natural disasters, for fulfillment of each state’s obligations under Article I Section 3.8, and for such other purposes as Congress may deem appropriate and necessary;[36]

To provide public financing for federal elections and election campaigns, to regulate and limit campaign contributions, and to mandate full disclosure of the sources and amounts of campaign contributions;[37]

To regulate all federal elections in accordance with Article VI, provided that the actual conduct of the elections is left to the states; and to modify by law any of the provisions of Article VI, provided two-thirds of members present in each chamber agree.[38]

To dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution II shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state;[39]

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over the District of Columbia (unless the District of Columbia chooses to become a state, in accordance with Article I Section 4}, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;[40] And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution II in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Section 9. Fiscal Responsibility[41]

9.1 Balanced budget

Expenditures from the U.S. Treasury authorized by Congress for any fiscal year shall not exceed revenues received into the U.S. Treasury during the previous fiscal year. Exceptions to this expenditure restriction, limited to one fiscal year at a time, are permitted due to a financial exigency declared by the President and approved by Congress, or for any of these reasons:

  • To pay for a war, properly declared by Congress, or during an invasion of the United States by a foreign power;
  • For emergency economic relief during a recession/depression, defined as three consecutive quarters of negative economic growth or a national unemployment rate in excess of 10%;
  • For emergency services in response to a natural disaster at home or abroad; or
  • For long-term infrastructure projects, financed over time.

9.2 Military expenditures

Total military expenditures of the United States, including the Armed Forces and all other military expenditures as well as foreign military assistance,

  • shall not be less than the military expenditures of any other nation not at war,
  • nor shall such expenditures exceed, except in a time of war declared by Congress, the greater of
    • three times the military expenditures of the nation other than the United States with the greatest military expenditures, or
    • the sum of military expenditures from the five nations other than the United States with the greatest military expenditures.

Military expenditures in support of a war declared by Congress or any other military action short of war must be specifically approved by Congress within 60 days after such military action commences, and then for only one fiscal year at a time.

9.3 Foreign aid

Expenditures for foreign aid and for the United Nations, not including military assistance, shall not be less than 2% nor more than 5% of the total federal budget.

9.4 Exceptions

Congress shall have the power, by a two-thirds vote in both chambers, to override the fiscal responsibilities of this section, but for only one fiscal year at a time. 

Section 10 – Limits on Congress[42]

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus[43] shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

No bill of attainder[44] or ex post facto[45] law shall be passed.

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another.

The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, marijuana, cocaine, or any other mood-altering substances, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited. In states where such substances are permitted by state law, Congress shall not prohibit them. Congress shall make no national law regarding the manufacture, import, export, possession, or use of such substances.[46]

No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept any present, emolument, office, title, or payment, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, foreign state, or other public or private foreign entity.[47]

Section 11 – Powers Prohibited of States[48]

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; authorize privateers or other military proxies for the state[49]; print or coin money; emit bills of credit; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts; or grant any title of nobility.

No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of Congress.

No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

Section 12 – Transition from the 1787 Constitution to this Constitution II[50]

After this Constitution II becomes effective, and before the beginning of the year when the first elections under this Constitution II will be held, the Vice President, acting as President of the Senate, will arrange for an orderly transition from the Congress under the 1787 Constitution to the Congress under this Constitution II.

Following the procedure specified in Article II Section 2.1, the 501 seats in the House of Representatives shall be apportioned to the several states. After the apportionment of seats in the House, apportionment of seats in the Senate is automatic.

The three Senate Classes shall continue as before, and on the same schedule.[51] Senators currently in office will be assigned to the same Class as at present, and will continue to serve until their current six-year terms expire, including Senators whose seats will not be renewed under the apportionment provisions of Constitution II.

Every Senate seat will be assigned to Class I, Class II, or Class III, as follows:

  1. For states with at least three Senate seats, the same number of seats will be assigned to each Class, so that, following this initial assignment, 0, 1, or 2 seats from each of these states remain to be assigned to a Class.
  2. For states with two Senate seats, and for states with two seats remaining to be assigned after step (a), one seat will be assigned to each of two Classes.
  3. All remaining seats will be assigned to a Class.
  4. The Vice President will ensure that
    1. The Class assignment of each incumbent Senator remains the same;
    2. The size of each Class in future elections is the same, or does not differ by more than one seat; and
    3. The number of seats for each state in each Class also does not differ by more than one seat.

The first Senate elections under this Constitution II will follow the procedure for the first election each decade following reapportionment, as specified in Article II Section 3.1.

[1] The 1787 Constitution is often confusing when using the term “House(s)”, which sometimes refers to the House of Representatives and sometimes refers to either the House or the Senate, or to both of them together. To avoid that confusion in Constitution II, the term “House” always refers to the House of Representatives, the term “Senate” refers to the Senate, and the term “chamber(s)” is used to refer to either or both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

[2] Slightly reworded from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 1.

[3] The 1787 Constitution specified the number of seats in the House awarded to each of the thirteen original states, but allowed Congress to modify the total number of House seats. A law passed in 1913 (when the US population stood at 92 million) set the total number of seats at the current 435. It seems advisable to revisit the total number of seats since we now have 330 million people, and to remove the enumeration of particular states from the Constitution. Also, it seems advisable to have an odd number of seats in order to avoid any possibility of a tie when counting Electoral Votes for president. (This will become apparent when reading Article VI on elections.)

[4] The 1787 Constitution based the apportionment of seats in the House to each state on the population of free people in each state, plus 3/5 of a person for each slave; it did not count Indians at all. In Constitution II, the total population of each state is used for drawing the boundaries of Congressional Districts, so the notion of the decennial census in the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 2, is still needed. However, in Constitution II, the apportionment of House seats to each state is based, not on each state’s total population, but rather on the number of people who voted in the last two presidential elections. This novel idea serves several purposes: 1) This provision encourages citizens to vote, because more voters means more Representatives in the House; 2) Similarly, this provision encourages states to design election procedures that will maximize voter turnout, rather than intentionally discouraging certain kinds of voters from exercising their franchise; and 3) The numbers cannot be easily fudged, since the number of votes cast in every election are publicly announced and readily available.

[5] Except for the term limit clause in italics, these provisions are adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 2.

[6] This provision implements term limits for the House. Ten 2-year terms is specified as the maximum amount of time a member may remain in the House.

[7] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 2.

[8] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 2.

[9] One of the fundamental improvements of Constitution II over the 1787 Constitution is reconstituting the Senate so that it reflects the country’s population.

[10] That is, a state with 1 to 5 House seats will have one Senator; a state with 6 to 10 House seats will have two Senators; a state with 11 to 15 House seats will have three Senators; and so on. This provision mandates that every state shall have at least one Senator. This scheme still gives more power to states with small populations than is strictly justified based on population alone, but it is vastly fairer than the current scheme of two Senators per state regardless of population, and it is much easier to implement than a scheme based only on population, which would require Senate districts that cross state boundaries, and thus elections handled by some entity larger than a state.

[11] This paragraph mirrors the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 3, except for the clause dealing with the equal distribution of Senate seats from each state across the three Senate Classes.

[12] This provision could result in the election of a Senator to a newly-created seat for a term of only two years or four years, that is, until such time as that seat’s class next comes up for its regular six-year election cycle.

[13] Except for the term limit clause in italics, these provisions are adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 3.

[14] This provision implements term limits for the Senate. Three 6-year terms is specified as the maximum amount of time a member may remain in the Senate.

[15] Adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 17. However, that Amendment gave the governor the power to make temporary appointments to fill vacancies. This Constitution II stipulates that vacancies will be filled by an election, and is exactly the same for both chambers.

[16] Copied from Article I Section 3.

[17] The vice president, as the presiding officer of the Senate, were he/she impeached by the House, should not preside over his/her own trial. Therefore, the Chief Justice should carry that responsibility.

[18] Important Congressional debates should occur in prime time and on weekends, when many more Americans could pay attention.

[19] This provision requires each chamber to be either in session or in recess. It cannot use an artificial device of meeting briefly with only a few members in order to pretend that it is still in session.

[20] Except for the two paragraphs in italics, this section is copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 5.

[21] The current rules and traditions of both chambers seem designed primarily to impede action, from the Senate filibuster and the right of any Senator to place an indefinite hold on a presidential nomination, to House rules that prevent bills from reaching the floor even though they enjoy wide bipartisan support. This provision, and the next one, restore the original intent of the 1787 Constitution, that is, Congress should act by majority vote; and most importantly, Congress should actually act.

[22] This provision allows either chamber to vote on items that a majority of the members want to vote on.

[23] This provision allows currently-elected politicians to campaign without missing important meetings in Congress, and also eliminates the “lame duck” session of Congress. Combined with the greatly shortened election season and shortened time between the general election and the convening of the new Congress and the inauguration of the new president, this also greatly shortens the time during which the U.S. Government is held in limbo between an outgoing and incoming Congress and Administration. In an era of instant communication and high-speed transportation, we no longer need the lag times necessitated in the past by slow postal service and horse-and-buggy transport.

[24] This section is adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 6, and Amendment 27.

[25] This clause has been modified from the 1787 Constitution to remove the word “civil” before the first occurrence of the word “office”, and to add the phrase “or any state”. The purpose of these changes is to prohibit Senators and Representatives from holding military (as well as civil) appointments while they serve in Congress, including the Armed Forces of the United States as well as any state militia.

[26] Except for the paragraph in italics, this section is copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 7.

[27] This provision eliminates the need for a filibuster to delay action on a bill until “the people exercise their right to weigh in”. It also extends to both chambers the same privilege to pass emergency legislation with a super majority, but to enact normal legislation by a simple majority vote.

[28] Except for the clauses in italics, and except also for the clauses noted individually, this entire section is adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 8.

[29] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 16.

[30] The first sentence of this provision is adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Article I, Section 2. The second sentence is copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article I, Section 2.

[31] This clause makes the federal role in science and the arts more explicit.

[32] This new limitation on Congressional power is a response to Congress’ abuse of that power in recent decades.

[33] The 1787 Constitution used the now-obsolete phrase “grant letters of marques and reprisal”. In the 18th century, governments sometimes issued “letters of marques and reprisal”, which authorized a private vessel (privateer or pirate ship) to seize and confiscate enemy ships. Constitution II substitutes the phrase “privateers and other military proxies”, meaning essentially the same thing but employing modern terminology. The significance of this passage is that Congress – not the president or any sort of king – has this power.

[34] Constitution II refers to the Armed Forces of the United States rather than to just the Army and the Navy. It addresses all American forces, wherever they may be – on land, on sea, in the air, or in cyberspace. The term “Armed Forces” is preferable to naming the service branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard), since a number of proposals have been made to merge all of the service branches into one, or to restructure them in some other way. The single term “Armed Forces” covers all of our federal military forces, no matter how they are organized in the future.

[35] This provision ensures that Congress has the constitutional authority to pass environmental regulations.

[36] This provision ensures that Congress can issue block grants to the states to help states meet their financial obligations, taking into account the differing needs of each state.

[37] This provision ensures that Congress has the constitutional authority to fund federal elections and to regulate election finances,

[38] Since the specific procedures of Article VI are new, it is wise to provide a mechanism to alter them without the more challenging procedure for amending Constitution II.

[39] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article IV, Section 3.

[40] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article II Section 8, with additional wording in italics concerning Washington, DC, should it choose to become a state.

[41] This is a version of the Balanced Budget Amendment, so often espoused by conservatives and libertarians. It includes limitations on overall government expenditures, as well as minimums and maximums for expenditures on the military and on foreign aid. It also includes an escape clause.

[42] Except for the clauses on liquor and other drugs, this section is copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 9, although several provisions of that Section are omitted from Constitution II.

[43] A writ of habeas corpus is a demand issued by a court to an executive over whom the court has jurisdiction, demanding that the executive bring to the court someone whom the executive is holding in confinement, and requiring the executive to explain to the court the legal justification for continuing to confine that person. This provision, including the suspension of the privilege during a rebellion or invasion, is lifted directly from British Common Law. It is included verbatim in the 1787 Constitution, Article I, Section 9.

[44] A bill of attainder makes a person or group guilty of treason or other capital offense without a trial, and also takes away the civil rights, property, and titles of the person “attainted”.

[45] An ex post facto law is a law that criminalizes behavior that occurred before the law was passed.

[46] The provisions concerning intoxicating liquors are copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 21. Marijuana and other drugs have been added to Constitution II. This provision ensures that the use of alcohol, marijuana, and other mind-altering substances is entirely a state matter. The Federal Government will neither compel nor prohibit state action in this realm.

[47] Corporations and other private commercial entities were not typically instruments of monarchical power when the 1787 Constitution was written. The added words make it clear that all such foreign payments, from whatever source, public or private, are prohibited.

[48] This section is copied entirely from the 1787 Constitution, Article I Section 10,

[49] The 1787 constitution used the phrase “grant letters of marques and reprisal”. The phrase “authorize privateers and other proxies for the state” is the modern equivalent.

[50] Article II Section 12 is entirely new.

[51] Under the current Senate election schedule, Class I Senate seats are elected in 2018 and every 6 years thereafter, Class II Senate seats are elected in 2020 and every 6 years thereafter, and Class III Senate seats are elected in 2022 and every 6 years thereafter.

Article I: Bill of Rights

Article I: Bill of Rights[1]

Section 1: Introduction to the Bill of Rights

1.1 This U.S. Constitution II establishes rights of natural persons, of citizens, and of states. The Federal Government and the several states may also recognize rights of other legal entities, such as corporations, partnerships, trusts, charities, and benevolent associations; but such rights are not constitutionally guaranteed.[2]

1.2 The Federal Government may delegate any of its powers to the several states. A collection of states may delegate any of their powers to the Federal Government. A collection of states may also create a public agency to jointly execute certain state powers, and may request the Federal Government to participate or support such public agencies, but without ceding those powers to the Federal Government.[3]

1.3 The enumeration in this Constitution II of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. [4]

1.4 The powers not delegated to the United States by this Constitution II, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.[5]

Section 2: Bill of Rights of Natural Persons

2.1 Equality of All Natural Persons[6]

All natural persons are created equal, and are born with certain inalienable rights, and among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

2.2 Freedom of Religion, Press, and Expression[7]

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

2.3 Freedom from Discrimination[8]

Discrimination against any person on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation is prohibited.

Discrimination against any person on the basis of age, between ages 40 and 70, is prohibited.[9]

2.4 Prohibition of Slavery[10]

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to its[11] jurisdiction.

2.5 Prohibition on Cruel and Unusual Punishments and on Torture

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.[12]

The United States does not practice or tolerate the use of torture. The intentional infliction of extreme pain upon any person for the purpose of obtaining information, for punishment, or for any other purpose, is prohibited.[13]

Section 3: Bill of Rights of Citizens[14]

3.1 Definition of Citizens[15]

The United States recognizes two categories of American citizens: a natural-born citizen and a naturalized citizen:

  • A natural-born citizen is any person
    • Who was born within the United States, its territories, or possessions, or
    • Whose biological mother or father was an American citizen at the time of the child’s birth. To retain natural-born citizenship under this provision after one’s 21st birthday, a natural-born citizen not born in the United States must notify the Secretary of State of the United States, between his/her 18th and 21st birthdays, of his/her intent to remain an American citizen.
  • A naturalized citizen is any person who becomes an American citizen in accordance with the federal law regulating the naturalization process.
  • With the sole exception of eligibility to hold the office of President of the United States, which requires the President to be a natural-born citizen, no distinction shall be made between natural-born and naturalized citizens.
  • No government has the power to take American citizenship away from any American citizen.

3.2 Right to Bear Arms[16]

For reasons of personal safety, hunting, and/or recreation, a citizen has the right to keep and bear personal weapons, including firearms appropriate to such purposes.

3.3 Quartering of Soldiers[17]

No Soldier shall be quartered in any house in time of peace without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

3.4 Search and Seizure[18]

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. This provision includes the right to privacy.[19]

3.5 Trial and Punishment; Compensation for Takings[20]

No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall any person be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation. No citizen shall be forced to surrender private property for private gain; the principle and legal process of eminent domain shall only be used to serve a demonstrated public need, and any private property gained through eminent domain shall become public property in perpetuity.[21]

3.6 Right to Speedy Trial; Confrontation of Witnesses; Assistance of Counsel[22]

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law. The accused shall enjoy the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

3.7 Trial by Jury in Civil Cases[23]

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed $1000, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved; and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States other than according to the rules of the common law.

3.8 Healthcare, Education, and Necessities of Life[24]

Citizens of all ages have a right to basic healthcare, including physicians, hospitals, medicines, medical devices, reproductive services, and mental health services.

Citizens have a right to tax-supported public education.

Citizens have a right to the basic necessities of life – food, clothing, and shelter – sufficient to prevent death from starvation and exposure to the elements.

The citizen rights in Section 3.8 shall be provided by the state in which each citizen resides.

3.9 Equal Protection of the Laws[25]

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

3.10 Voting rights[26]

For all citizens who have attained the age of 18, no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in state or federal elections based on age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation; and no poll tax or other tax for voting may be imposed.

Section 4: Bill of Rights of States

4.1 Voluntary Union of states

  • The United States of America is a voluntary union of those states which have ratified this Constitution II and have therefore agreed to join the Union and be subject to its jurisdiction.[27]
  • In addition to the 50 states in the Union under the 1787 Constitution, the District of Columbia and the Territory of Puerto Rico also each have the right to voluntarily join the Union under this Constitution II, if approved by a majority vote of their citizens, held within 5 years following submission of this Constitution II to the people and states.[28]
  • New states may be admitted by the Congress into this Union. However, no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state, nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states or parts of states, without the consent of the voters and legislatures of the states concerned as well as of Congress.[29]

4.2 Secession[30]

Any state may, by a two-thirds vote of its citizens and its legislature, give notice of its intention to secede from the Union. If approved by two-thirds of the people in a second plebiscite, held not less than five nor more than seven years after the initial notice to separate is given, then that state shall notify the Secretary of State of the United States of its decision to secede. That state and the United States will then have three years in which to negotiate the terms and conditions of their separation, after which that state will no longer be a part of the Union.

4.3 Each State to Honor All Others[31]

Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

4.4 State Citizens, Extradition[32]

The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice and be found in another state, shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime.

4.5 Republican Government[33]

The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a republican form of government and shall protect each of them against invasion and, on application of the legislature or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.

4.6 State Militia[34]

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of each state to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

4.7 State Legislative Preference[35]

A state statute takes precedence over a federal statute within that state, provided that the state statute

  • Does not conflict with this Constitution II,
  • Addresses matters wholly within the state’s jurisdiction,
  • Does not adversely affect other states or citizens of other states, and
  • Is approved by a two-thirds majority of that state’s voters in a referendum on that statute, which includes the assertion that the state statute is in conflict with a federal statute but complies with all elements of this provision.

 

 

[1] Before the Constitution of 1787 was adopted, citizens in many states stipulated that their agreement to this Constitution was dependent upon the adoption of a Bill of Rights, which became the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. In Constitution II, these rights are built into the Constitution II itself. Further, certain other rights of all persons, of American citizens, and of states deserve to be spelled out before Constitution II is adopted. Due to the preeminent importance of these constitutional protections, it makes sense to state them in Article I.

[2] This provision clarifies that Constitution II guarantees the rights of persons, citizens, and states, but not of corporations or other legal entities – whose rights may be recognized by law, but are not guaranteed by this Constitution II. (By the way, the 1787 Constitution also does not mention corporations, free markets, or capitalism. It mentions private property only once: This occurs in Amendment 5 in the clause concerning eminent domain.)

[3] This notion of federalism has existed in practice for many years; this provision makes it explicit in this Constitution II.

[4] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 9.

[5] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 10.

[6] This fundamental idea, taken from the American Declaration of Independence (1776) and also incorporated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), deserves to be a bedrock principle of Constitution II.

[7] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 1.

[8] This paragraph enshrines in Constitution II the basic civil liberties of the last 50 years of civil rights legislation and judicial decisions.

[9] Certain laws may require a minimum age for performing certain activities, such as signing a contract, driving a car or boat or airplane, getting married, and holding public office. Other laws may mandate a retirement age. But any laws dealing with age must not discriminate between the ages of 40 and 70.

[10] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 13.

[11] The 1787 Constitution used the word “their” rather than “its” because, up until the Civil War, “United States” was a plural noun; since Reconstruction, “United States” became a singular noun. The United States is treated as a singular noun in Constitution II.

[12] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 8.

[13] Based on all available medical and scientific evidence, torture is ineffective in producing operational intelligence, and its use as punishment has long been outlawed by the 1787 Constitution. This provision incorporates into Constitution II both American law and international conventions on the absolute prohibition of the use of torture, especially the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols of 1977, treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory.

[14] American citizens enjoy certain rights, over and above the rights of all persons who come under American jurisdiction. This section spells out those additional rights, starting with a definition of American citizenship.

[15] American citizenship was not explicitly defined in the 1787 Constitution. Article I Section 3.1 of this Constitution II provides clarity on this matter.

[16] Adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 2. This version of the Second Amendment ensures that an individual citizen may own a weapon, but may be prohibited by law from owning a nuclear weapon, warship, fighter jet, fully automatic machine gun, and other military-grade weapons.

[17] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 3.

[18] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 4, except for the final sentence, in italics.

[19] A right to privacy is inferred by the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 4, and has been so interpreted by the Supreme Court. Adding it to this provision in Constitution II makes this right explicit rather than implicit.

[20] Copied from Amendment 5, except for the final sentence, in italics.

[21] Both conservatives and liberals, from time to time, have condemned the abuse of eminent domain. This provision states clearly that eminent domain may only be used to acquire or protect a public benefit.

[22] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 6.

[23] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 7. However, the amount has been raised from $20 to $1000.

[24] Article I Section 3.8 guarantees to every citizen the most basic necessities of life. It enshrines in Constitution II the actual, concrete meaning of the Declaration of Independence statement about everyone’s inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It also provides a constitutional basis for all of our social support programs – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ healthcare, and ACA (or whatever replaces it).

[25] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 14.

[26] Prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, and religion are adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Amendments 1, 15, 24 and 26. Prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and of sexual orientation are based on Supreme Court decisions that in turn depended on those constitutional provisions.

[27] The idea of a voluntary union is implied by the 1787 Constitution; this provision makes it explicit.

[28] This new provision is another attempt to empower citizens of the USA – in this case, citizens of two jurisdictions who have been treated as second-class citizens for many decades. Under Constitution II, DC will lose its three Electoral Votes unless it chooses to become a state, and both DC and Puerto Rico can claim their full rights as states if they so choose. By the way, there is some precedent for including this type of provision in our foundational document: The Articles of Confederation included a provision allowing Canada to join the Confederation if it wanted to do so.

[29] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article IV Section 3, with the addition of a voice for voters (in italics).

[30] Just as the USA is a voluntary union of the citizens of states that have joined, it’s illogical to argue that the decisions of state conventions in the 1780’s are binding on all citizens today, or that the decisions of states in ratifying Constitution II should be binding on all these states forever. While the states do take on considerable obligations in mutual support and in acting as a unified nation, nevertheless it should be possible for states to voluntarily withdraw. It should be difficult to withdraw, and it should require adequate notice to the other states to adjust – but it should be possible. That is the intent of this provision.

[31] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article IV.

[32] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article IV.

[33] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article IV.

[34] Adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 2. Many constitutional scholars believe that this was the original intent of the Framers of the 1787 Constitution.

[35] Advocates for states rights often argue that some federal laws and regulations improperly infringe on state prerogatives. This provision would allow a state, in certain circumstances and with the concurrence of two-thirds of its citizens, to adopt a state law that supersedes a federal law.

Constitution II: Preamble and Stipulations

Constitution II for the United States of America

Preamble[1]

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution II[2] for the United States of America.

This Constitution II replaces the United States Constitution of 1787, as amended.

Stipulations[3]

  1. All laws, treaties, responsibilities, regulations, debts, and other obligations of the United States, undertaken under the Constitution of 1787 as amended, continue in full force and effect, except where specifically contravened by this Constitution II.[4]
  2. Each of the 50 states existing at the time of the creation of this Constitution II are invited to conduct a plebiscite to ratify this Constitution II within ten years of its submission to the states. This Constitution II will become effective in those states ratifying same, provided it has been ratified by a plebiscite in 30 or more states, whose total population constitutes at least 60% of the population of the United States according to the most recent decennial census.[5]
  3. The first elections conducted under this Constitution II will take place in the first presidential election year that begins at least 12 months following ratification.[6] This first election will include the President, Vice President, House of Representatives, and one Class of the Senate. (The existing President, Vice President, and Congress will continue to serve until those newly elected under this Constitution II begin their terms of office.)
  4. This Constitution II establishes a Federal Government consisting of three co-equal branches: the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch.[7]

[1] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Preamble.

[2] The revised constitution is referred to as “this Constitution II” throughout.

[3] These ideas need to be stated at the outset, though the ideas themselves are not new and in fact exist (with different wording) in the 1787 Constitution.

[4] Adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Article VI, first paragraph.

[5] Adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Article VII. The two new ideas here are (1) that ratification by each state depends on the will of the people (a plebiscite) rather than by an act of a legislature or convention and (2) ratification and implementation of the whole document depend on the approval of states that comprise at least 60% of the United States population. Of course we could choose a lower bar for putting this Constitution II into effect. We could accept the bar of 9 states from the 1787 Constitution. Note: the 9 most populous states (California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, and North Carolina) hold 51% of the US population; hence the notion that any collection of nine or more states that constitute a majority of the US population can put this new Constitution II into effect in those states that have approved it is not really too far-fetched. Nevertheless, this first very rough draft specifies 60% of the states comprising 60% of the population. (Note that, if Amendment NNN to the 1787 Constitution is adopted, then this stipulation is not needed.)

[6] That is, a year evenly divisible by 4.

[7] While we have always talked about the three co-equal branches of the federal government, the 1787 Constitution does not explicitly state this. Perhaps it is a good idea to stipulate that this Constitution II prescribes three co-equal branches.

Constitution II: Why and How

 

“It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order; this lukewarmness arising partly from the incredulity of mankind who does not truly believe in anything new until they actually have experience of it.”

Nicolo Machiavelli  , (1469 – 1527)
The Prince

 

Why Do We Think We Have the Authority to Do This?

So you are telling me that we should keep a system that gives each voter in Wyoming 66 times more electoral power in the Senate than each voter in California? and the reason we should keep this system is because some Virginia plantation owners in 1787 wanted to ensure that their stranglehold on political power would not be diluted by the radicals in Massachusetts and New York who allowed nearly everybody to vote? Really? and this despite the fact that neither Wyoming nor California was party to this “deal”? and you still want to call this a democracy?

Please.

Let me review the considered opinion of the “Father of the Constitution”[1]:

 

If there be a principle that ought not to be questioned within the United States, it is that every man has a right to abolish an old government and establish a new one. This principle is not only recorded in every public archive, written in every American heart, and sealed with the blood of American martyrs, but is the only lawful tenure by which the United States hold their existence as a nation.

James Madison

The Articles of Confederation of 1781 permitted amendments to those articles, but only if the amendment was agreed to by Congress and then ratified by the legislatures of all 13 states. There were lots of shortcomings to the Articles of Confederation, not the least of which was this requirement for unanimous agreement by all the state legislatures to any changes.

Therefore, when the Constitutional Convention was held in 1787, the Framers of the Constitution quite simply ignored the method for amending the Articles of Confederation spelled out therein. In fact, if they had followed the Articles of Confederation’s rules for making amendments, the whole effort would have been scuttled from the get-go, since the state of Rhode Island declined to even send a delegation. Rather, the Framers created a completely new form of government, and they announced that this new government would come into force in all the states that adopted it, as soon as 9 states had adopted it. (In the long run, all 13 states, even including Rhode Island, did ratify the 1787 Constitution.) Note that 9 is more than two-thirds but less than three-fourths of the 13 states.

I feel now like the Framers did in 1787: There is no way that the existing system will be dramatically changed by all those who benefit from it. Therefore, it becomes necessary to go beyond the bounds of the existing constitution and create something very new.

Perhaps the Framers were on to something valuable as a precedent: We may not need to amend the 1787 Constitution by following the rules for amending the Constitution prescribed in Article V thereof. Rather, we can simply create an entirely new Constitution II, an entirely new Government, and adopt it with the consent of the governed. Who gives us the authority to do this? James Madison, of course – the guy who wrote the 1787 Constitution.

Why Do We Need to Do This?

Just look at the process for amending the Constitution, as spelled out in Article V: Congress can propose an amendment by a two-thirds majority in both Houses, or alternatively two-thirds of the state legislatures can call for a convention to propose an amendment; and the proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution when ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures. Note, first of all, that the people have no say whatsoever – it is entirely dependent on politicians in the Congress and in state legislatures. Maybe that was okay when the country was just starting out, at a time when even giving power to elected representatives was looked upon as somewhat radical. (In their previous model, the Framers had only England to look at, where power generally derived from the King.) In addition to the amendment process which shuts out the citizenry, look also at the protections built into the 1787 Constitution to ensure that the people would not really be able to affect any outcome: state legislatures chose US Senators; electors in the electoral college, beholden to nobody, selected the president; and even though the voters did elect members of the House, the role of the people was to play second fiddle at best.

Today, our modern American society is far more tolerant of the active participation of all citizens in our politics. Therefore, our new Constitution II should codify the empowerment of the people over the power of politicians.

Since we cannot depend on the existing Powers-That-Be to cede power to the people, it behooves us to assert that power ourselves. The premise of the “Constitution II Convention” – or whatever we choose to call it – is that we the people have the power to create our own democratic government, and we the people have the power to put a new/revised form of government into practice.

Guidelines for the Contents of Constitution II

The new thing we create must be far more democratic, far more subject to the will of the people. It must empower all Americans to play a role, to have a stake, and to have the ability to affect the outcome.

At the same time, we need not, indeed we should not, start over from scratch. As noted in Part I, what the Founding Fathers created was enormously creative, visionary, brave against all odds, and long-lasting. Most of their work retains these qualities. But many details remain incomplete, some provisions are outdated and no longer work as smoothly as intended, some are intentionally anti-democratic and continue to deny us a real democracy, and quite a few significant issues of our time could not have been foreseen when the 1787 Constitution was written. Therefore, for those of us who would like our Constitution and basic form of government to keep working but also want to reform the parts that are broken and fill in the parts that are missing, we are left with two possible courses of action: 1) We could choose to introduce and fight for dozens of Individual constitutional amendments to fix every broken or missing part, including some which we know from the get-go have just about zero chance of ever gaining acceptance from the current power structure; or 2) we could opt for a substantial rewrite of the whole document.

In fact, that is essentially what Constitution II is all about: Keep the original wherever possible, incorporate all previously ratified Amendments, and also incorporate the fixes contained in Part II of this work.

Also consider the rather mundane question of language:

  • The original 1787 Constitution contained 4490 words. Since ratification, we have adopted 27 Amendments containing a total of 3300 words, or 73% of the original length. The two dozen or so amendments suggested in Part II of this work would add about 3000 words, making the amendments longer than the original document.
  • The previously adopted and newly proposed amendments modify or supersede numerous original provisions of the 1787 Constitution, scattered throughout the document, so that even just reading it straight through and understanding how it all fits together is something of a challenge.
  • The English language has also changed since 1787. Americans ought to be able to read their foundational document and understand what it means. We ought to be able to teach this in middle school, and pupils should be able to internalize its core concepts.
  • The Model-T Ford was a fine machine in its day. If you still owned one in 2017 and wanted to modernize it, you could retrofit it to have an automatic transmission, a powerful engine, air conditioning, visible taillights, modern bumpers, and maybe even seatbelts and air bags; the result would be a patchwork quilt of alterations and make-do fixes and hardly recognizable as a derivative of the original. But inevitably there comes a point at which it’s time for a new car, incorporating all the wonderful Model-T features that were novel at the time but also all the advances that have been invented since. That’s where we are with our Constitution.

On the basis of language alone, it’s time to replace the 1787 Constitution as written and amended with a new version, incorporating all the existing amendments into the body of the basic document and also incorporating our new provisions.

Therefore, Constitution II updates the document’s English language usage, punctuation, and spelling. By incorporating all previous amendments into the constitution itself, the whole document becomes much more readable and understandable.

Convening the Constitution II Convention

To adopt a new constitution, we need to convene a constitutional convention for the purpose of creating a new constitution. We will refer to this body as the Constitution II Convention.  The Constitution II Convention will draft the new constitution, Constitution II, and the people in each state will then ratify it.

Two approaches to convening the Constitution II Convention present themselves. The first approach is to follow the procedures in the current Constitution. The second follows the precedent established by the Framers of the current Constitution. Each approach can succeed only with a great deal of active citizen involvement and broad public support.

First Approach

The first approach uses the procedures in Article V of the Constitution to amend the Constitution, specifically, to replace Article V – Amendments with Amendment NNN. Amendment NNN gives citizens the exclusive power to approve all constitutional amendments and to propose a constitutional convention. Congress will still be able to propose constitutional amendments, but only voters will have the power to approve them.

Article V of the Constitution spells out two procedures for proposing a constitutional amendment: a) Two-thirds of the state legislatures ask Congress to call for a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments; or b) Congress itself, by a two-thirds vote in each chamber, proposes an amendment. When Congress submits a proposed constitutional amendment to the states, Congress can specify whether the amendment will be ratified by the state legislatures or by state conventions.

The American people could demand our state legislatures to petition Congress to convene a constitutional convention for the purpose of proposing Amendment NNN. Or we could demand that Congress propose Amendment NNN. We could further demand that Congress specify that state conventions will endorse the will of the people in each state, based on a ballot referendum on Amendment NNN.

Under either procedure, Amendment NNN is then submitted to the 50 states, where 38 states ratify it, making it part of the Constitution.

After we adopt Amendment NNN, a citizens’ petition calls for a constitutional convention to rewrite the constitution. When the voters approve this petition, the Constitution II Convention will take place.

We can expect a challenge to the constitutionality of Amendment NNN, since it removes the guarantee that no state will be denied its equal representation in the Senate without its consent. The counter-argument is that of James Madison: we have the authority to change our government.

If this first approach is successful, then the path will be clear to submit a rewritten constitution to the states for approval by the people, in accordance with the procedure in Amendment NNN.

Second Approach

We should try the first approach first. It’s clean and straightforward, and it will garner support from those who insist on following the letter of the law.

But what if it doesn’t work? What if political obstructionism prevents us from replacing Article V with the will of the people, and yet public opinion polls demonstrate overwhelming public support for convening the Constitution II Convention?

In that case, we may need to follow the precedent of the guys who wrote the 1787 Constitution. That is, ignore the rules in the existing document for amending it, because those rules are so prejudiced in favor of the existing power structure that we can never expect them to relinquish that power voluntarily.  Instead, convene a new constitutional convention of the people, and campaign for widespread public support.

Here are specific suggested steps for convening the Constitution II Convention using the second approach:

  1. The process begins with a petition, organized and circulated through any of the national civic organizations with a continuing interest in these matters, demanding a national convention for the purpose of creating a new constitution.
  2. Then an existing non-partisan civic organization with a focus on politics agrees to take the lead in organizing discussions on Constitution II or helps form a new organization with this mission. The League of Women Voters, FairVote.org, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (especially the Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation), the University of Virginia Center for Politics, and probably a dozen other entities would be candidates for this role. One or more state or national political leaders might see the merit in this effort and lend it credibility.
  3. When citizen support for this endeavor becomes sufficiently widespread and vocal, the sponsoring organization will call together a core group of scribes to write and edit and vet the document.
  4. As was the case before the 1787 Constitutional Convention, all states will be invited to participate in the process of drafting Constitution II; but this time around, direct citizen action must drive the process, rather than allowing politicians to exercise control over the process or veto power over the result.
  5. The Constitution II Convention, charged with the task of drafting Constitution II, will hold its first official meeting when 60% of the states call for same and agree to send representatives to it. A state can join the Constitution II Convention by either an action of the state legislature or by a plebiscite of its citizens.
  6. And, voila!, the Constitution II Convention is underway. Additional states can join the process throughout the Constitution II Convention whenever they see fit to do so.

If this second approach to convening the Constitution II Convention is followed, we can expect an intense national conversation and debate about the proper method to follow for ratification.

Constitution II Convention Procedures

Technology will facilitate participation of a wide swath of citizens in the drafting and editing process.

State governments can designate representatives if they so choose, as can Congress and the federal judiciary; all representatives can participate either electronically or in person. The Constitution II Convention can begin meeting officially when it has representatives from at least 60% of the states. Citizen opinion polls and online voting schemes can be employed to ensure citizen support for each article, section, paragraph, sentence, and clause of Constitution II. I envision a lively, months-long, highly participatory civics lesson, at the end of which the American public will be much better informed concerning their government, their constitution, and democracy, and much more supportive of all three.

When the whole document is complete, sponsors will ask each state to submit it to their voters in a public referendum. This will happen, of course, only if citizens demand it, loudly and consistently over a long period of time.

If Americans follow the first approach to convening the Constitution II Convention, then the ratification procedure will be straightforward, following the procedure in Amendment NNN. Voters at the next general election will accept or reject Constitution II, and if they vote to accept it, then this will become the new constitution and the law of the land in all 50 states.

If Americans follow the second approach to convening the Constitution II Convention, then the path to ratification is less clear. Public demands for a plebiscite in every state will be necessary to force a vote. One can hope that, if several states approve Constitution II, more states will follow, and the effort will gain momentum. Though the last few states might be a challenge, 30 states will ultimately ratify. At that point, the other 20 states will need to decide whether to join in or else lose out entirely, and hopefully all will join.

This scenario is not as far-fetched as it might seem at first glance. In any case, working to achieve it or something like it is far better than simply wringing our hands and complaining bitterly how the system is rigged against us, or how Big Money always wins, or how the entrenched politicians will remain forever entrenched and there is nothing we can do about it.

Consent of 60% of Us

Today, of course, we want our Government to be far more democratic, far more representative of the people, than the Framers of the 1787 Constitution would ever have dared dream. Therefore, this new Constitution II will come into effect only after it has been adopted (or “ratified”) by a majority of voters in at least 60% of the states, including states that constitute at least 60% of the US population according to the most recent census.

The suggested 60% threshold for ratification (for both states and population) is arbitrary. Any number can be argued, both pro and con.

At one extreme, we could put the new Constitution II into effect among the states that have approved it when ratified by just nine states, making up just a majority of the US population. We could argue for this suggestion for two reasons: 1) Precedent, since that is the number of states needed to ratify the 1787 Constitution and put it into effect; and 2) Conveniently, the nine most populous states comprise 51% of the US population.

At the other extreme, we could require unanimous approval by a plebiscite in every state, perhaps with a super-majority in every state. But that would be like trying to amend the Articles of Confederation by unanimous approval of all state legislatures, or trying to reconstitute the US Senate under the strictures of the existing Article V. That simply was not going to happen in 1787, and it sure ain’t gonna happen now.

So 60% seems a reasonable compromise. If a majority of the voters in 60% of the states containing 60% of the nation’s population think it’s time for a constitutional overhaul, then perhaps we ought to just go ahead with it, and trust that the rest of the states will buy into it in due course.

Formatting Notes in Constitution II

  • Most of the provisions of Constitution II are unchanged from the Constitution of 1787 as amended, which Constitution II replaces. Some provisions have been reworded or modernized without changing the original meaning. Provisions copied or modernized from the 1787 Constitution appear in normal type along with a footnote indicating the source.
  • New provisions appear in Italics. As needed, footnotes explain the new wording.
  • In all cases, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization have been updated to reflect modern usage.
  • This wording includes the U.S. Senate (rather than a Chamber of Deputies) as the upper chamber of Congress. If we have a constitutional convention empowered to draft a new constitution from scratch, then we need not worry about limitations on the makeup of the Senate spelled out in the 1787 Constitution.

 

And now for the piece de resistance, Constitution II. Read on!

 

 

[1] James Madison, Helvidius No. 3, September 7, 1793.

Challenge 6. Bill of Rights Fixes

Each of the topics discussed in the Bill of Rights Challenge might best be addressed by a constitutional amendment. Those topics are:

  1. Equality of all natural persons
  2. Freedom from discrimination
  3. Prohibition of torture
  4. Citizen’s right to healthcare, education, and the necessities of life
  5. Citizen’s right to privacy
  6. Restrictions on the use of eminent domain
  7. Voting rights for all citizens
  8. Clarification of the right to bear arms (Second Amendment)
  9. Distinguish between the rights of persons, of citizens, and of states
  10. Definition of citizens, natural born versus naturalized
  11. State and local rights and responsibilities
  12. Power of states to secede
  13. Fiscal Responsibility

All these amendments, taken together, could be proposed in one batch, just like James Madison introduced the amendments that ultimately became our Bill of Rights. So here are 13 new amendments for our joint consideration.

All of these except the Fiscal Responsibility Amendment follow from the challenges discussed in Part I. Therefore, only that proposed amendment merits a word of explanation. Both conservatives and libertarians have clamored for a federal balanced budget amendment for many decades. In their view, citizens have a fundamental right to expect their elected government to behave in a fiscally responsible manner, and yet they see only profligate spending and a refusal to pay for those expenditures. In their view, a constitutional amendment is needed to require the federal government to balance its books. I’ve included a version of a balanced budget amendment as New Amendment 13.

New Amendment 1: Equality of All Natural Persons

All natural persons are created equal, and are born with certain inalienable rights, and among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

New Amendment 2: Freedom from Discrimination

Discrimination against any person on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation is prohibited.

Discrimination against any person on the basis of age, between ages 40 and 70, is prohibited.[1]

New Amendment 3: Prohibition of Torture

The United States does not practice or tolerate the use of torture. The intentional infliction of extreme pain upon any person for the purpose of obtaining information or for any other purpose is prohibited.[2]

New Amendment 4: Citizen’s Right to Healthcare, Education, and the Necessities of Life

Citizens of all ages have a right to basic healthcare. This includes physicians, hospitals, medicines, medical devices, reproductive services, and mental health services.

Citizens have a right to tax-supported public education, provided by the state in which each citizen resides.

Citizens have a right to the basic necessities of life – food, clothing, and shelter – sufficient to prevent death from starvation and exposure to the elements.

New Amendment 5: Citizen’s Right to Privacy

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. This provision includes the right to privacy.[3]

New Amendment 6: Eminent Domain

No citizen shall be forced to surrender private property for private gain; the principle and legal process of eminent domain shall only be used to serve a demonstrated public need.[4]

New Amendment 7: Voting Rights for All Adult Citizens

For all citizens who have attained the age of 18, no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in state or federal elections based on age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation; and no poll tax or other tax for voting may be imposed.

New Amendment 8: Clarification of the Right to Bear Arms

Section 1

This Amendment replaces Amendment 2 of the Constitution.

Section 2

For reasons of personal safety, hunting, and/or recreation, a citizen has the right to keep and bear personal weapons, including firearms appropriate to such purposes.

Section 3

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of each of the several states to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

New Amendment 9: Rights of Persons, of Citizens, and of States

This Constitution establishes rights of natural persons, of citizens, and of states. The Federal Government and the several states may also recognize rights of other legal entities, such as corporations, partnerships, trusts, charities, and benevolent associations; but such rights are not constitutionally guaranteed.[5]

New Amendment 10: Definition of Citizens

This Constitution recognizes two categories of citizens: a natural-born citizen and a naturalized citizen:

  • A natural-born citizen is any person
    • Who was born within the United States, its territories, or possessions, or
    • Whose biological mother or father was an American citizen at the time of the child’s birth. To retain natural-born citizenship under this provision after one’s 21st birthday, a natural-born citizen not born in the United States must notify the Secretary of State of the United States, between his/her 18th and 21st birthdays, of his/her intent to remain an American citizen.
  • A naturalized citizen is any person who becomes an American citizen in accordance with the federal law regulating the naturalization process.
  • With the sole exception of eligibility to hold the office of president of the United States, which requires the president to be a natural-born citizen, no distinction shall be made between natural-born and naturalized citizens.
  • No government on earth has the power to take citizenship away from any U.S. citizen.

New Amendment 11: States’ Rights

Section 1

The federal government may delegate any of its powers to the several states. A collection of states may delegate any of their powers to the federal government. A collection of states may also create a public agency to jointly execute certain state powers, and may request the federal government to participate in or support such public agencies, but without conceding those powers to the federal government.[6]

Section 2

A state statute takes precedence over a federal statute, provided that the state statute

  • Does not conflict with the Constitution,
  • Addresses matters wholly within the state’s jurisdiction,
  • Does not adversely affect other states or citizens of other states, and
  • Is approved by a two-thirds majority of that state’s voters in a referendum on that statute.

New Amendment 12: Power of States to Secede

Any state may, by a two-thirds vote of both its citizens and its legislature, give notice of its intention to secede from the Union. If approved by two-thirds of the people in a second plebiscite, held not less than five nor more than seven years after the initial notice to separate is given, then that state shall notify the Secretary of State of the United States of its decision to secede. That state and the United States will then have three years in which to negotiate the terms and conditions of their separation, after which that state will no longer be a part of the Union.

New Amendment 13: Fiscal Responsibility

Section 1. Balanced budget

Expenditures from the U.S. Treasury authorized by Congress for any fiscal year shall not exceed revenues received into the U.S. Treasury during the previous fiscal year. Exceptions to this expenditure restriction, limited to one fiscal year at a time, are permitted due to a financial exigency declared by the President and approved by Congress, or for any of these reasons:

  • To pay for a war, properly declared by Congress, or during an invasion of the United States by a foreign power;
  • For emergency economic relief during a recession/depression, defined as three consecutive quarters of negative economic growth or a national unemployment rate in excess of 10%;
  • For emergency services in response to a natural disaster at home or abroad; or
  • For long-term infrastructure projects, financed over time.

Section 2. Military expenditures

Total military expenditures of the United States, including the Armed Forces and all other military expenditures as well as foreign military assistance,

  • shall not be less than the military expenditures of any other nation not at war,
  • nor shall such expenditures exceed, except in a time of war declared by Congress, the greater of
    • three times the military expenditures of the nation other than the United States with the greatest military expenditures, or
    • the sum of military expenditures from the five nations other than the United States with the greatest military expenditures.

Military expenditures in support of a war declared by Congress or any other military action short of war must be specifically approved by Congress within 60 days after such military action commences, and then for only one fiscal year at a time.

Section 3. Foreign aid

Expenditures for foreign aid and for the United Nations, not including military assistance, shall not be less than 2% nor more than 5% of the total federal budget.

Section 4. Exceptions

Congress shall have the power, by a two-thirds vote in both chambers, to override the provisions of this amendment, but for only one fiscal year at a time.

[1] Certain laws may require a minimum age for performing certain activities, such as signing a contract, driving a car or boat or airplane, getting married, and holding public office. Other laws may mandate a retirement age. But any laws dealing with age must not discriminate between the ages of 40 and 70.

[2] Based on all available medical and scientific evidence, torture is ineffective in producing operational intelligence, and its use as punishment has long been outlawed by the 1787 Constitution. This provision incorporates into the Constitution both American law and international conventions on the absolute prohibition of the use of torture, especially the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols of 1977, treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory.

[3] A right to privacy is inferred by the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 4, and has been so interpreted by the Supreme Court. Adding it to this provision in Constitution II makes this right explicit.

[4] Both conservatives and liberals, from time to time, have condemned the abuse of eminent domain. This provision states clearly that eminent domain may only be used for a public benefit.

[5] This provision clarifies that the Constitution guarantees the rights of persons, citizens, and states, but not of corporations or other legal entities – whose rights may be recognized by law, but are not guaranteed by the Constitution.

[6] This notion of federalism has existed in practice for many years; this provision makes it explicit in the Constitution.