Information icon.svg

Nominations for the RationalMedia Foundation 2020 board of trustees election are now open!

Essay:Needed Constitutional Amendments (Glide08)

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Essay.svg This essay is an original work by Glide08.
It does not necessarily reflect the views expressed in RationalWiki's Mission Statement, but we welcome discussion of a broad range of ideas.
Unless otherwise stated, this is original content, released under CC-BY-SA 3.0 or any later version. See RationalWiki:Copyrights.
Feel free to make comments on the talk page, which will probably be far more interesting, and might reflect a broader range of RationalWiki editors' thoughts.

Doing one of my own because why not.

To quote the original creator of this sort of thing, Stabby the Misanthrope:

At the time it was written, the US Constitution was one of the most progressive and forward-looking documents ever written. For its time. But today we live in a society fundamentally different from the society the Founding Fathers lived in, and the Constitution as it is does not address many contemporary concerns.

Furthermore, the US constitution has turned from a leader to a laggard in constitution-building[note 1], and the many attempts to update it for the 21st century propose radical changes with a small to nonexistent track record, instead of incorporating the tried-and-tested methods used in the rest of the developed world[note 2].

Text of proposed amendments Commentary/Rationale

Congressional Elections[edit]

Section 1. The House of Representatives shall consist of 750 members, chosen in free elections conducted via direct, equal, and universal suffrage by secret ballot, on the basis of proportional representation. The Current number of Representatives in the US is clearly insufficient. Many American reformists agree, and propose new apportionment rules to enlarge the house; however, their proposals typically tie the number of representatives to a ratio of the population (resulting in a ridiculously-enlarged House with membership numbering well within the four digits[note 3]), or to the population of the least populous state (resulting in a chaotic variance of membership size – this rule currently results in the reasonable number of 547, but has the potential to lead to both a comically-oversized congress and a severely undersized one). The cube rule – which states the ideal number of members a national legislature should have is the cube root of the country's population – results in a 676-member ideal House of Representatives based off the 2010 census population. 750 members, while somewhat larger, is an enlargement that remains within reasonable boundaries, and also future-proofs the HoR until 2080.

Section 2. 12 Representatives shall be elected by citizens of the United States residing overseas and in unincorporated Territories, unless their populations warrant separate representation; one representative shall then be elected to represent each such unincorporated territory. The remaining Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States, the district forming the seat of government, and the several incorporated Territories, according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each, and applying d'Hondt's highest averages rule; but each shall have at least one representative. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of the President and Vice President of the United States or Senators and Representatives in Congress is denied to any of the inhabitants of such State, district or Territory, being eighteen years of age and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for disenfranchisement imposed on the grounds of insanity or of a court ruling, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such citizens shall bear to the whole number of citizens eighteen years of age in such State. This essentially updates the Section 2 of the 14th amendment to the modern-day voting qualifications in the United States, allows for full DC/Territorial representation in Congress, and mandates use of the d'Hondt system for the actual apportionment.

Section 3. Each State and Territory, and the forming the seat of government, shall elect its Representatives from one at-large legislative district, unless the number of its Representatives amounts to fourteen or more; then it shall be divided into legislative districts which comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory. Each such legislative district shall elect neither less than seven nor more than thirteen representatives; and the ratio between the number of representatives to be elected for each legislative district and the population of each legislative district shall be uniform.
Representatives of citizens of the United States residing overseas shall be elected from single-member overseas legislative districts which comprise, as far as practicable, uniform population, established by grouping countries and unincorporated Territories together.
A party-list proportional representation works best in large, multi-member districts; in fact, applying it to a single-member district essentially causes it to degress into first-past-the-post. This section mandates multi-member districts, and also their minimum and maximum representation.

Section 4. Each voter for Representatives may cast as many votes as there are representatives to be elected from the legislative district in which he is entitled to vote, and shall apportion them among the several candidates in such manner as he sees fit; provided, however, that any fractional division of a vote shall be void, and that no representative shall be apportioned more than three votes. In most PR implementations, each voter always gets one vote even though the members are-elected in a multi-member districts. Applying the common US Logic of giving each voter as many votes as the district elects, while rare, is used in (among other places) Switzerland, where it is called Panachage.

Section 5. Candidates for representatives shall be grouped according to their party affiliation; and seats in each district shall be apportioned among each party grouping based off its share of votes, applying d'Hondt's highest averages rule; provided it obtain at least 3% of the vote nationwide. Within each party grouping the candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected, ties being broken by drawing of lots. This ensures proportional representation in the House of Representatives. Note that this is a listless PR system; candidatures are only grouped together for seat allocation between the parties, and are otherwise entirely separate.

Section 6. When vacancies happen among the representatives, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes who belongs to the same party grouping as the vacator shall fill such vacancy; but if there be no such candidate, writs of election shall be issued to fill such vacancies, the election being reserved to candidates of the same party affiliation. This clause implements the common PR rule for filling vacancies by co-opting the first unelected member of the same party. While not eliminating special elections entirely, this will make them much less frequent.

Section 7. Incorporated territories, for lack of population, will be deemed part of a state for the purpose of apportionment and redistrcting. This is mainly done to address the US's only incorporated territory, Palmyra Island, whose population does not warrant a congressional delegation of its own.

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to enforce the provisions of this article by appropriate legislation. No further explanation needed.

Senate[edit]

Section 1. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of three Senators from each State, chosen by the people thereof in free elections conducted via direct, equal, and universal suffrage by secret ballot. The number of US senators is also clearly insufficient, though its base for composition (equal number of members per each state, elected by direct popular vote) is sound.


and propose new apportionment rules to enlarge the house; however, their proposals typically tie the number of representatives to a ratio of the population (resulting in a ridiculously-enlarged House with membership numbering well within the four digits[note 4]), or to the population of the least populous state (resulting in a chaotic variance of membership size – this rule currently results in the reasonable number of 547, but has the potential to lead to both a comically-oversized congress and a severely undersized one). The cube rule – which states the ideal number of members a national legislature should have is the cube root of the country's population – results in a 676-member ideal House of Representatives based off the 2010 census population. 750 members, while somewhat larger, is an enlargement that remains within reasonable boundaries, and also future-proofs the HoR until 2080.

Clarification of Second Amendment[edit]

Federal-State relations[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Modern-day constitution writers are much more likely to build on the German or French constitutions than the American one.
  2. For example, Ranked-choice voting systems are much less widely used internationally than their support by American election reformists would suggest; the most common systems for national-level elections by far are party-list proportional representation for legislatures and the two-round system for presidential elections.
  3. As of the writing of this paragraph, no democratic country has a legislative chamber with four-digit membership numbers (the largest lower house and legislative chamber is general is Germany's Bundestag, with 709 members; while the largest upper house is France's 348-member Senate), and the only legislative chamber this large – China's 2879-member National People's Congress – is a rubber-stamp assembly which only meets once a year, and delegates its responsibilities to its (far more reasonably sized, yet undersized relative to popualtion) 110-member Standing Committee.
  4. As of the writing of this paragraph, no democratic country has a legislative chamber with four-digit membership numbers (the largest lower house and legislative chamber is general is Germany's Bundestag, with 709 members; while the largest upper house is France's 348-member Senate), and the only legislative chamber this large – China's 2879-member National People's Congress – is a rubber-stamp assembly which only meets once a year, and delegates its responsibilities to its (far more reasonably sized, yet undersized relative to popualtion) 110-member Standing Committee.