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:
@conor64 Outlaw the standing army except during congressionally declared wars.-- George Burgess (@Ixcila) April 23, 2013
-- Don Kilmer (@donkilmer) April 23, 2013
- Congress shall make no law abridging economic liberty, freedom of contract and the right to earn a living. @adamwinkler @conor64
-- Ryan Andrew (@BoomBoomGPA) April 23, 2013
- @conor64 The right to privacy & secure belief I can grow whatever I like want in my own backyard/garden
-- John Carter (@roguebaptist) April 23, 2013
- .@conor64 right to privacy, including informational and health/genetic
-- Joel Weyrick (@JoelWeyrick) April 23, 2013
- @conor64 The right of a jury to judge both the justice and application of the law shall not be infringed.
-- Daniel(@WiseguySix) April 23, 2013
- @conor64 A property rights amendment that renounces Kelo
-- PEG (@pegobry) April 23, 2013
- •@conor64 "This document shall be strictly interpreted according to its text and the intention of those who wrote it."
-- Not You, Fat Jesus (@jteeDC) April 23, 2013
- Public funding of elections RT @conor64: If you could add one Bill of Rights style amendment to the Constitution what would it be?
-- Joshua D. Holmes (@BriefTheater) April 23, 2013
- @conor64 Probably something barring legislation or rulemaking by non-democratic bodies
-- Grant Williams (@SurlMudgeon) April 23, 2013
- @conor64 One defining a narrow interpretation of the commerce and general welfare clauses.Or repeal the 17th.
-- Jason Prasad (@ajasonprasad) April 23, 2013
- @conor64 Freedom of Information; right to government documents like FOIA, but enshrined in Constitution.
-- Julian Sanchez (@normative) April 23, 2013
- @conor64 The right to encrypt.
-- Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) April 23, 2013
- Congress shall make no law. RT @conor64: If you could add one Bill of Rights style amendment to Constitution what would it be?
And my personal favorite:
The Fourth Amendment + "we mean it" RT @conor64: If you could add one Bill of Rights style amendment to the Constitution what would it be?-- Jonathan Blanks (@BlanksSlate) April 23, 2013
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:
- If you favor greater privacy protections, what actual language would you submit as an amendment?
- If you'd prefer a different amendment, what is it?
My email address is in the bio below.