Mar 4, 2014

Posted in Stevens Rehab Tour

What Are Justice Stevens’s Proposed Six Amendments?

After my previous post on the Justice Stevens’s new book, I requested a review copy from the publisher, which I have now received. Here are his six proposed Amendments. I’ll avoid commenting until I read the entire book (a fairly breezy 133 pages, followed by the Constitution as it stands now, and a list of all JPS clerks).

  1. The “Anti-Commandeering Rule” (Amend the Supremacy Clause of Article VI) This Constitution, 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 and other public officials. in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
  2. Political Gerrymandering – Districts represented by members of Congress, or by members of any state legislative body, shall be compact and composed of contiguous territory. The state shall have the burden of justifying any departures from this requirement by reference to neutral criteria such as natural, political, or historical boundaries or demographic changes. The interest in enhancing or preserving the political power of the party in control of the state government is not such a neutral criterion.
  3. Campaign Finance – Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.
  4. Sovereign Immunity – Neither the Tenth Amendment, the Eleventh Amendment, nor any other provision of this Constitution, shall be construed to provide any state, state agency, or state officer with an immunity from liability for violating any act of Congress, or any provision of this Constitution.
  5. Death Penalty- (Amend the 8th Amendment) Excessive Bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments such as the death penalty inflicted.
  6. The Second Amendment – (Amend the 2nd Amendment) A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.

I’ll have more thoughts later.

I will note that his biography, which says he “Retired from the Supreme Court on June 29, 2010″ is inaccurate.

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  • Brett_Bellmore

    1. The “The Senate and Lictenstein can now amend the Constitution”, amendment?
    2. The “Finally we can get rid of those “Majority-minority” districts” amendment?
    3. The “Finally we can shut them up” amendment?
    4. The “Laws don’t have to be constitutional to be binding” amendment?
    5. Ok, got no objection to this one.
    6. The “Anybody who proposes this one gets voted out of office at the next election” amendment?

  • http://thusbloggedanderson.wordpress.com/ ThusBloggedAnderson

    Might as well add # 7: “To each man, woman, and child resident in the United States, a pony shall be given.”

    • Qumulus

      I think that his proposals are conservative enough. I realize it’s hard to amend, but I wouldn’t say ponies. And really, if you’re gonna talk shit on the internet, always go with unicorns. Always go with unicorns.

  • DJ

    #7 Corporations are State created entities and therefore NOT people. (Recommend proposed amendment by Move to Amend.) We the *People* not we the corporations!

    • cowboyinbrla

      A more elegant phrasing might be “For the purposes of this constitution, “person” shall mean only natural persons. “

      • DJ

        The “more elegant” phrasing is the actual proposed amendment by Move to Amend, as I stated.

        • cowboyinbrla

          Well, I wasn’t going to pick it apart, but since you got snitty… The word “state” would not be capitalized in this context, there would be a hyphen between “state” and “created”, and the word “people” is less well-understood in a legal context than “persons”, which is proper. Whoever “Move to Amend” is, if this is the proposed text of their amendment, they need editors. And lawyers. It’s the crappiest draft I’ve ever seen.

          • DJ

            “Snitty” was your initial response and thus my retort. You evidently still didn’t get it even after clarification in my second comment!

            If you don’t know who Move to Amend is (simple Google search) then you didn’t read *their* amendment although I clearly stated I “recommend” that particular amendment, twice. No other words in my comments (and especially my second) have anything to do with *their* amendment. I was making a point in my own words with no reason to be “more elegant.” Is that clear enough? Do you get it now?

            Oh, by the way, Move to Amend’s amendment was written by those in the legal profession and became “House Joint Resolution 29 introduced February 14, 2013.”

          • Angela

            Geesh – glad Cowboy and DJ are not Supreme Court Justices!

          • reasonableargument

            Agreed. Why fight like that? You two are obviously endorsing the same idea. DJ, don’t take it personally that someone offered different wording. As a Move to Amend volunteer, I recognize that there are groups offering different wordings, and that will all get worked out much later in the process, but the important thing right now is building a robust “Democracy Movement.” Differences of opinion are important to hash out, but arguing with allies over trivial differences isn’t the way to galvanize public engagement!

    • Mongo

      Stevens was a corporate lawyer. Probably supports corporate person-hood which is the biggest hunk of baloney that ever came down the pike.

      • Bobloblaw67

        Good luck suing a nonperson

    • lenroc99

      So then if a corporation isn’t a “person” then it shouldn’t be taxable, right? You can’t take a rock…
      You can’t have it both ways; either company’s pay taxes and have freedom of speech (like you and I) or they don’t…

      • DJ

        Actually there’s no “both” ways.

        When the Founding Fathers created the Constitution I have no doubt (as many scholars agree) that a “person” was a living, breathing human being minus slaves which at the time were considered chattel. Since this isn’t a discussion concerning slavery (very wrong) I won’t segue into that discussion. The point here is that people were just that, “people.”

        A corporation is a State created entity. Something of thin air that is created on paper. And every state has different “laws” for the creation of that entity and, different “regulations” to manage them; separate from human beings I might add. They are not people.

        Taxation is not based on the 1st amendment it is based on the 16th amendment, which created the ability for the federal government to tax. And it clearly states:

        “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived…”

        There is no distinction in the 16th amendment between “people” as the Founding Fathers would interpret their work, and a State created, paper entity known as a corporation. They are *all* taxable.

        There is a plethora of information that goes into great detail on the why’s, why not’s, and discussion of the 16th amendment prior to its writing and enactment. Much more than a comment on a post can cover.

        I recommend a recent work on the subject as a starting point titled “Corporations Are Not People” by Jeffrey Clements. It ties many of the historical discussions, arguments and decisions pertaining to corporations (and the 16th amendment) together along with a fantastic resources, recommended reading, and notes/bibliography sections for further research. The book contains a number of very good questions one should be asking themselves in terms of corporate-personnhood. There are others as well.

        We wouldn’t even be having this conversation if the Supreme Court hadn’t recently dismantled and destroyed decades of precedent in order to satisfy their Republican supporters (a.k.a. an activist court). These decisions have not served “The People,” rather pushed them aside for big interests.

        • lenroc99

          What a well thought out response. You make some very strong points. I purchased the book you referenced on Amazon and I look forward to reading it.

          It still doesn’t feel right to me though to collect taxes on an entity, such as a corporation, but remove their right to petition government via free speech.

          Would you be willing to apply your standard to other organizations, such as labor unions? What about non-profit corporate entities like MoveOn.org? Should they be allowed more freedoms than Google?

          • DJ

            I don’t see where corporations are having their right to petition government removed via free speech. But let’s back up for a two-paragraph moment.

            Let’s be clear. This is not “my” standard. This is a belief by many including some very wealthy who happen to be left leaning.

            Corporations don’t do anything “humans” do. They don’t sleep, eat, wash, dress, drive, ride the bus, go to church, work 8-5 (or whatever hours), raise kids, appear in court, *vote*, etc. Corporations “do” things through and by their representatives. That is, CEOs, boards of directors, employees, outside groups, etc. And all these individual, breathing people have all the rights granted them under the Constitution.

            Corporation’s free speech is exercised everyday by these “representatives.” as well. Aside from small things such as advertising on radio, television, Internet, etc., they and their fat wallets spend billions on lobbyists to influence government; pay to play (much more than either you or me ever could). Can you call your representative or Senator and get him or her on the phone?

            Why there are C, S, LLC, 501(C)(5), 501(c)(3), etc., corps and orgs? That’s a whole different question but none of them should be classified as having “person-hood” is the point. They are not people. They are paper creations. So yes, I apply the same standard.

            What I”m sensing is that you may believe “money” is free speech and that tends to blur understanding the difference between the 1st and 16th amendment in my opinion. I absolutely disagree with this position on so many levels. Since you’ve indicated you’ve bought Jeff’s book I’ll leave it to him to explain this in a much better format than blog comments.

            You may also be interested in what was just reported today concerning money and elections by none other than Justice Stevens himself. http://ow.ly/w0CI7

            In terms of having more freedoms than Google I’m not sure what you’re saying. But I do know that Google has just recently grown its lobbying arm from one person to an entire firm on K street. And they don’t have to pool resources like non-profits or labor unions to do it.

            Anyway. There’s a lot of material our there on this specific subject. Take the time to read some of it (not just Jeff’s book) and at least you’ll know you’re making an informed decisions. Good Luck.

          • lenroc99

            You are right that I consider money as a form of speech. Money can buy you a news paper or it can allow you to petition the government. I would rather have more competition in the marketplace of ideas; I’m very skeptical of any plan to restrict ideas/speech of any entity.

            We probably couldn’t get our local representative or Senator on the phone like the head lobbyist for GE could but that doesn’t mean much. Brad Pitt could probably get my two senators on the phone so does that mean we should ban fame?

            And my question about Google was to gage your position. Do you feel the UAW has a right to lobby government but Google doesn’t?

            I look forward to reading the book though I am a little skeptical.

          • DJ

            To answer your question on Google v UAW: no I don’t, but that’s not the case anyway, both lobby.

            Like any blog post the more you write the more “out in the wild” the followups get, the more writing takes place … ad nauseam. We’ve gone from free speech to taxation to lobbying to money in politics to celebrity all because I made a comment about “my” beliefs. Truthfully, a comment because I’m fairly confident Justice Stevens believes in corporate personhood. I was making a point. It hasn’t stopped me from purchasing his book in advance of publication though. I read a *lot. And not just about or by those that agree with my personal positions. Without knowledge from a wide spectrum of voices we learn nothing, only confirm our own beliefs.

            I made a simple statement as to my belief that a Constitutional amendment is required to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling that corporations are people. I don’t believe that, never have. You asked questions and I followed up best I could given the fact that this is a blog post, not a book.

            You will believe what you believe and that’s fine. We should all follow our consciences; hopefully while being well informed or in the pursuit of same. The best I can tell you is to read the book since you’ve already purchased it (I was surprised you did) and see what Clements has to say. Perhaps you’ll get something out of it, perhaps not. That is entirely up to you. No harm, no foul.

          • HerstoryProf

            I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “entity.” So, entities can be required to remit income taxes. I’m guess that means the you think that they can enter into contracts (how else do you prove income?). What if they breach? Can they be parties to litigation? Can they be a plaintiff? Can they pay attorneys to advocate for them? If so, can the advocate for themselves in the legislature?

          • DJ

            I think it’s pretty clear what was meant by “entity” in the context of the whole conversation. Corporations are created on paper under each states’ laws and regulations (different laws and regulations I might add. Oh, maybe we have discrimination here!). They are not people.

            Don’t read *into what I said, and nitpicking a particular word to create an argument might be OK when one is writing a dissertation but for a blog comment? Really?

          • HerstoryProf

            Yea but defining what an entity can and cannot do is the heart of your argument. Obviously, you would not want to be arbitrary or ambiguous in assigning these rights and prohibitions. I’m trying to get you to lay out your logic more precisely.

          • DJ

            Really “prof.” No it isn’t. The heart of my argument is that “people” are human beings and corporations are Paper mache and thus not entitled to personhood. It’s pretty simple; a big NO they aren’t, period. Nothing ambiguous here. I don’t need a lesson in laying “out [my] logic more precisely.” How pompuos.

            If you need more details and “logic” try reading the book I recommended.

          • Avi

            A group of individuals shouldn’t lose their first amendment rights simply because they chartered a corporation together.

          • DJ

            You hit it on the head…”individuals.” You loose nothing as an “individual.” You have your first amendment rights, and all other rights for that matter. Individuals, humans, not a paper entity created by the state retain rights.

            When a corporation arrives in the pews of church, stands in line at the DMV or grocery store, drives, etc., come talk to me. And no, a person of a corporation doing these things is not the same as the corporation doing them.

      • Bobloblaw67

        And you can’t sue it.

    • Guest

      and therefore cannot be taxed?

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  • RobertD

    Stevens was just a corrupt Chicago related individual whose philosophy is similar to that of Valerie Jarrett and Obama. Deconstruct the Constitution and let the government and it’s cronies dictate the “underclass” daily life for benefit of the financial and academic elite.

    • zeldy345

      If you knew anything about deconstruction, you would know the document deconstructs itself, as its condition of possibility is its impossibility as such (or being purely univocal). Academic elite? Haha! You mean all the adjuncts making well under $30,000 without benefits & overwhelming debt?

  • Moonball

    #2 Districts represented by members of Congress, or by members of any
    state legislative body, shall be compact and composed of contiguous
    territory.

    …shall be composed of contiguous polygons with the fewest sides required to represent the population as mandated by the most recent census.

    • Qumulus

      WHile I snicker at the idea of using polygons and math in the Constitution, this shit is actually spot on and brilliant.

  • artandnaturelady

    While there are many supporters of a Constitutional Amendment to deny Free Speech to artificial entities, few address how (if that ever happened) campaigns will then be funded. Would you put up $7.00 a year to clean up Washington? Please check out http://www.thefairelectionsfund.com. No more fundraising and Registered Voters decide which candidates may use their money. With legislators that represent people, we can start solving other problems, such as gerrymandering.

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  • JBENZ

    1. Good. Nullification was a dumb idea the last time we fought a civil war over it and it hasn’t improved since.
    2. Too complicated. Give politicians any power to modify a district and they’ll do it…and swear on a stack of Bibles that the were doing it for one of the peritted reasons.
    3. Heh…let politicians decide what “reasonable” means? And this one definitely needs “Persons are defined as natural persons only. Corporations are not persons.”
    4. Good idea but essentially the same as #1.
    5. Good idea period. Lets’s go back to being one of the civilized countries.
    6. Nope…the militia is, by definition, a group of private citizens who only come together in an emergency and who provide their own weapons. The fact that such militias have been obsolete since about 20 minutes after the Civil War started notwithstanding. If you don’t have the votes to repeal the Second Amendment you should find some other hobby horse to pursue.

    • Qumulus

      You’re a bit cynical, and fail to understand the limited nature of the Constitution, but I agree with a lot of what you have to say.

  • Don Kilmer

    So if amendment is necessary to restrict the “right to keep and bear arms” to a militia in order to achieve Steven’s policy aspirations, why the dissent in Heller and McDonald? Why not reluctantly agree with the conclusion of the majority, but state your preference for amendment? This is why people don’t trust judges to interpret the constitution according to some objective standard.

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  • Badd Karma

    MILITIA

    0 U.S. Code § 311 – Militia: composition and classes
    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
    (b) The classes of the militia are—
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia

    • Qumulus

      Damn… it’s unfortunate that you live under 18 USC code.

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  • HOAGOV

    Proposed US Constitution amendments will help HOA reforms http://pvtgov.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/proposed-us-constitution-amendments-will-help-hoa-reforms/

    I have cautioned my followers about the ‘games’ that lawyers play with the precise wording and grammar used in bills and, eventually, the resultant laws. They love to parse
    the sentences and apply interpretations that have a plausible relationship to a
    valid legal issue. . . . But there is hope stemming from the very top, from retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens who has proposed Six Amendments to the US Constitution. Below are 2 of the 6 proposed amendments that are particularly important to HOA reform legislation.
    [. . . .]

  • Thomas Dylan

    The Second Amendment – (Amend the 2nd Amendment) A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.
    Stevens should have added to his stupid amendment “And federal and state politicians will decide who shall serve in the militia and they we will blindly serve their masters”

    This guy was on the Supreme court, How?

    • Qumulus

      Because he earned it as a legal scholar, even though I disagree with some of his opinions (see Gonzales v. Raich). Federal and State politicians already dictate the arms you can own, and will always continue to do so. You can’t buy or build nukes…. on down to you can’t buy or build .50 cal machine guns. So he’s right. Which makes you wrong.

      • Thomas Dylan

        I didn’t say politicians would decide what arms to use but who got to use them. If you want to educate yourself read about the Turks disarming Armenian soldiers during the genocide. I think it’s because the Turk Pols didn’t want Armenians in the militia with weapons? They can’t fight back without guns. And this makes you wrong.

        • Force Crater

          You can’t fight back now. I shouldn’t have to tell you that no American gun owner possesses the firepower to fight back against the Army. Seriously, get real. The only thing your weapons will get you is a bigger stain on the highway. Only the most craven idiot could believe that the current publicly allowed firearms are a deterrent against the government.

          • Thomas Dylan

            150 years ago I’m sure there were people saying the same thing but that didn’t stop the Civil War. And do you think the all soldiers in the army will blindly follow the orders to bomb and kill their own families and neighbors? They will turn.

          • Qumulus

            This isn’t muskets vs. rifled muskets. This is drones and hellfires vs. what? Machine guns? You guys thinking that you’ll be able to defeat a government (WHICH IS NEVER GOING TO FIGHT YOU) is fucking sad. And completely devoid of intellectual thought.

          • Thomas Dylan

            You need to read some history books, revolutions happen all the time. The Ukrainians just over threw the government. The Jews defended the British Empire in Israel.

    • natureman

      Note the purpose of a ‘well regulated Militia’ and 2nd Amend.,”security of a free state”. Then check Art.1, Sec.8 Powers of Congress to use Militia “To……suppress Insurrections….:”

      Doesn’t seem to be any room here for an armed mob of persons wanting to
      destroy our elected government.

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  • Jim Richardson

    Very sensible ideas. There is a choice coming at us rather quickly, which is to either begin measured reform as outlined by Justice Stevens, or face the certainty of ever-escalating tension between the wealthy few and the disenfranchised many. Knowing this country’s history, there will doubtless be much bloodshed and turmoil on the way to a better society we can well foresee and achieve without it.

    Jim in Philadelphia

    • Qumulus

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say revolution and bloodshed, but I think the tension continues to mount. It’s real and continues to create more and more disparity which will eventually boil over. I don’t think it will involve fighting though. It will involve a new party, beholden to “let’s get back to the first 200 years of our country when we weren’t so divided.”

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  • Aneesh786

    I think that it appears to have less value if it’s in response to something, not that it’s actual value is less.more info washington state classifieds….http://www.psoundclassifieds.com/

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  • Sam

    Thank God the amendment process is as arduous and thoughtful as it is.

    • Force Crater

      Yes, thankfully we will probably not be able to agree to sensible gun limits so it is clear that once enough people get tired of the current insane situation a call will come from the electorate to completely eliminate the 2nd amendment. Every day I become more and more convinced that this is inevitable.

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  • Mgh999

    Yeah. NO!

  • notgeorge08

    #8 no public employee shall be required to join any orginazation or bargaining unit in order to maintain their employment as a public servant.

  • notgeorge08

    #2 all citizens shall be considered members of the state militia while a resident of the respective state.

  • notgeorge08

    Hope Stevens dies soon, commie child molesting looking PO$

  • Gregory8

    Does Justice Stevens propose that we have a Constitutional Convention since he’s proposing such a sweeping number of changes, (6 in all)? If so, then that would open the flood gates because each state would be sending delegates to D.C., each with their own set of proposals that would benefit them. It was difficult enough to get the original Constitution and the First Ten Amendments past with the original colonies in 1787, I can just imagine the utter chaos that would ensue with 50 states, 5 territories, and D. C. trying to make changes today. It has taken 218 years to add just 17 more amendments to the original 10 by way of legislation as per Article V, so a Constitutional Convention is the only real way to do this. Bring it on so that we can have some real changes. I propose a change to Article III, Sect. 1 that allows federal judges to sit for life . In its place, all 9 Supreme Court Justices would be subject to a national referendum (retain or replace) every 2 years beginning with their 10th anniversary on the bench by a simple majority vote. In other words, every 2 years one, but no more than 2 justices, would be up for a vote. A similar one would apply to the judges at the Appellate Court level but voting would occur only with the appellate districts in which they serve.

  • Joyce Clemons

    This man never belonged on the bench. How can you defend or interpret a Constitution you don’t respect? His interpretation of the Bill of Rights and Article One is so fundamentally flawed, one barely know where to begin. He doesn’t really want a Constitutional Convention, he wants a bloodless coup to end the popular sovereignty. King John said “The law is in my mouth.” John Paul would have you believe it is in his book.

  • Bobloblaw67

    If only progressive were free to do what they wanted, we could have utopia.