What Would You Add to the Bill of Rights?

An informal survey suggests a desire for greater privacy protections is present among some liberals, conservatives and libertarians.
Bill of Rights straight.jpg

In a thought-provoking post at Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok points out that the Second Amendment, intended in part to minimize the need for standing armies, hasn't in fact fulfilled that purpose, and asks what Constitutional amendments would best protect people from tyranny today. He suggests three possibilities:

  • "The right of the people not to bear arms shall not be infringed (i.e. no conscription. Requiring someone to bear arms, thus taking all of their freedom, is a far worse example of tyranny than preventing them from bearing arms.)"
  • "If 1/3rd or more of the Supreme Court rule that a law is unconstitutional it shall be unconstitutional. (Greater protection of minority rights)."
  • "Congress shall pass no law abridging the right of the people to encrypt their documents and effects. (Modern supplement to the fourth amendment.)"

It isn't clear to me that his second suggestion would actually result in better protection of minority rights, though I grant it's possible. I'd definitely support his last suggestion. And I love the exercise. Constitutional amendments are rare. But they happen. And even when they don't, soliciting suggestions is a good way to gauge the sorts of concerns Americans have. On Twitter, I modified the question, asking what "Bill-of-Rights-style amendment" folks would want to add to the Constitution.

Here are some of the responses: 

And my personal favorite:

The one larger conclusion I gathered from the highly unscientific sample of responses I got, some of which are included above, is that a desire for greater privacy protections exists among very different ideological cohorts, at least when the reform isn't stated any more specifically than that. I don't know that we'll ever see a new privacy amendment, but there's a strong possibility that privacy concerns will play an increasing role in our politics in future years. On the other hand, maybe Americans will just become acculturated to having much less privacy than they once did.

I'd like to solicit answers to two questions, whether by email or in comments:

  1. If you favor greater privacy protections, what actual language would you submit as an amendment?
  2. If you'd prefer a different amendment, what is it?

My email address is in the bio below.

Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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