2.10 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. Power of the people for initiative and referendum, and for approval of constitutional amendments

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.

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 replace 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: Initiative and Referendum, and Approval of Amendments

Section 1

Citizens have the right, through a petition, to propose a federal statute, repeal a federal statute, and propose a constitutional amendment. A successful petition is referred to the voters at the next Congressional general election.

Section 2

Citizens also have the right to approve any constitutional amendment proposed in accordance with Article V of the 1787 Constitution. This Amendment replaces the procedure for ratifying a proposed constitutional amendment as provided by Article V.

Section 3. Specific Procedures

  • A new petition, after it has been signed by 500,000 voters, will be submitted to a Panel of Scribes. The Panel of Scribes consists of three Scribes, nominated by the vice president (in his role as President of the Senate), the Speaker of the House, and the Chief Justice of the United States; all Scribe appointments must be confirmed by the Senate.
  • The Scribes will make any necessary changes to the proposal to ensure that the wording is clear, accurate, and consistent. The Scribes will also create and approve a summary statement of the arguments for and against the petition. The revised petition will then be circulated generally. 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 nine states. A successful petition will appear on the ballot at the next Congressional general election.
  • If a ballot measure to create a new federal statute is approved by a majority of all votes cast, including a majority of the votes cast in a majority of states, then the proposed federal statute becomes law.
  • If a ballot measure to repeal an existing federal statute is approved by a majority of all votes cast, including a majority of the votes cast in a majority of states, then the federal statute is repealed.
  • If a ballot measure which proposes a constitutional amendment (whether initiated by petition or referred by Congress) is approved by two-thirds of all votes cast, including two-thirds of the votes cast in two-thirds of the states, then the proposed constitutional amendment becomes part of the Constitution.

Section 4

By a two-thirds majority in both chambers, Congress may modify the Specific Procedures in Section 3 in order to improve the functionality of those procedures, but without modifying the intent of any part of this Amendment.

[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.

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