John Paul Stevens helpfully rewrites the constitution for you

posted at 7:01 pm on April 12, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

This story already popped up in the headlines earlier today, but there are a number of other goodies in this particular package. In some coverage of former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, people were understandably focusing on his proposed change to the Second 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.”

This long discredited, but highly useful to the Left Wing interpretation of the Second Amendment would serve many purposes for those who would see American citizens disarmed. Such a change would essentially alter the foundation of the concept – as well as the vision of the Founders – to essentially declare that the right to bear arms was not only not an individual right, but would be specifically limited to those in military or law enforcement service, and even then, only under the strict supervision and with the permission of government agents. The fact that there are still more than a few people desirous of such a change is disturbing in the extreme. But it also serves as a reminder of what we are constantly fighting against.

As I mentioned above, though, Stevens doesn’t stop with his vision of a gun grabbing despotic central authority.He goes on to list five others, covered here by Josh Blackman, which are worth a brief look as well.

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.

This is the first of Stevens’ thinly – if at all – veiled efforts to prevent conservative, state level officials from arguing against constitutionally dubious commands from on high. In short, adding the phrase and other public officials to the Supremacy Clause would ensure that that all federal mandates could immediately be enacted by leashing state and local officials to their will, even if challenges to the ruling were in the offing.

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.

This is one which, were it not for the general avarice of the federal government for power, I could almost get behind. Gerrymandering has led to numerous problems deriving from an entrenched class of permanent office holders. (And perhaps more importantly, their party machine bosses.) But the sort of mandate Stevens envisions here has two serious problems. First, it leaves itself open to wide interpretation which would lead to a logjam of court cases where the warring parties in each state would shut down the redistricting process entirely with a raft of constitutional challenges. Second, it seeks to once again usurp more power from the state and transfer it to Washington, which should be reason enough to oppose it in and of itself.

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.

This one is just a Democrat wish list item, plain and simple. I won’t waste any column space discussing why it has no place in the Constitution.

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

I’m not sure why this was included, since it’s really just a rehash of the first item on the list. This is more of an effort to put a boot on the throat of state and local governments – and the people of the many states who elect them – to ensure that no pesky group of citizens can question the authority of Washington in any matter whatsoever.

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.

This is the only one of the bunch which, while I disagree with it personally, I could see as being valid to put to a vote on a national level. While I see the deterrent value in a carefully monitored, reviewed and administered death penalty, I understand that many people do not. If a significant enough portion of the population of enough states wanted to amend the constitution to expand “cruel and unusual” to include the death penalty, it would be a valid exercise of the amendment process and not really do anything else to deflate the remainder of the founding documents.

All in all, a better title for this book would be, Six Reasons You Should Thank God I’m Not on the Bench Anymore. Even if Stevens’ replacement wasn’t any better, this is a prime example of the kinds of “thinking” which will be in favor when the court sees a solid majority of such “thinkers” at SCOTUS. The sub-title for the book could have read, “My plan to finally edit that pesky Constitution and remake America the way I think it should be.”

I open the floor to an evening of discussion on Stevens’ various proposals.


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Comment pages: 1 2

No one looked it up? OK, here’s the answer:

Question: Which former justice stated that the individual-right interpretation of the second amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud—I repeat the word ‘fraud’—on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime”?

Answer: Chief Justice Warren Burger (appointed by Nixon).

(Who also said that “the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to have firearms at all”, and that its purpose was “to ensure that the ‘state armies’—’the militia’—would be maintained for the defense of the state.”)

jd3181 on April 13, 2014 at 3:11 PM

I hope this gets traction… I hope liberal states believe this is possible and I hope they call a Constitutional Convention to enact new amendments.

Because this is not what would come from amendments that could reach the approval of 2/3rds of the states, but it’s entirely possible some OTHER amendments could come from approval of 2/3rds of the states.

IMO we’re overdue for a Constitutional Convention, so lets have one, roll the dice, and see what happens.

I’m willing to bet on over 1/3rd of the states defending against this idiocy, and hoping that 2/3rds actually do something useful instead.

You can’t limit the discussion in a Constitutional Convention… you don’t get to decide only what you wanted gets a vote.

I’m game, but we need enough states to call for it. Get the liberals on board and we’ll see what happens.

gekkobear on April 13, 2014 at 3:22 PM

I read the amendment the way Penn & Teller do:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,

That is, “Since the government will of necessity have weapons…

the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

“…it’s important that civilians be allowed to keep comparable weapons as a balance.” (Emphasis added, with the more sensible punctuation found here.) Nothing about hunting or defense against criminals, but – as with the other nine – a Madisonian/Jeffersonian check on governmental power.

Tzetzes on April 13, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Stevens isn’t *wrong*, he’s *lying.*

A former supreme court justice does not get the benefit of the assumption of ignorance – he’s been exposed to the law and the history of the law.

He’s lying.

Merovign on April 13, 2014 at 3:54 PM

As has long been suspected and now formally known, the constitution is an obstacle for liberals, not a scaffolding for reconstructing the country. They pay it lip service when it provides them convenience, but really they abhor it. At least some of this is coming out in the open and out of the dark shadows of congressional halls and committee rooms…..

ritethinker on April 13, 2014 at 4:07 PM

During the revolutionary war the militia was separate and distinct from the Continental Army. It consisted of average citizens that took their privately owned weapons to fight with the Army against the repressive British. I am absolutely certain the founding fathers knew of that distinction and the true meaning a militia. Stevens is just another big government liberal that is attempting to disarm the citizens. Don’t fall for it people.

rplat on April 13, 2014 at 4:56 PM

This is the first of Stevens’ thinly – if at all – veiled efforts to prevent conservative, state level officials from arguing against constitutionally dubious commands from on high.

No, it is the first of his thinly veiled attempt to remove all sovereignty whatsoever from Americans and their States. And I say that’s a violation of his oath while he is still bound by it.

GWB on April 14, 2014 at 10:14 AM

GWB on April 14, 2014 at 10:14 AM

*facepalm* He isn’t on the bench anymore. NVM.

GWB on April 14, 2014 at 10:17 AM

The title of the book should be…

“Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Start a Civil War”

William Eaton on April 12, 2014 at 8:48 PM

I rather like

“Six Amendents: To Crush All Opposition”

Axeman on April 14, 2014 at 10:29 AM

This crap sounds like it was written by a liberal college freshman trying to make up rules for a frat house.
Hard to believe this guy was a Supreme Court Justice.

OccamsRazor on April 14, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Typical left-wing totalitarian dictatorial twaddle. You should expect no more from fascists like Stevens.

earlgrey on April 14, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Comment pages: 1 2