Essay talk:Needed Constitutional Amendments (Smerdis of Tlön)

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Right to drive[edit]

You've got me rolling my eyes pretty hard here. Do you think the need for driver's licenses came from nowhere? Unskilled drivers were killing people, smerdis. The need for regulation of the activity was obvious from the get-go. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 15:19, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

The right to drive a car is much more fundamental and necessary to participate in life in the USA than the right to firearms that already exists. The amendment as written allows for the right to drive to be taken away. Just, not without due process of law. In other words, it forbids automatic suspensions upon being arrested. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 15:34, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Some musings[edit]

Not going to get into the deep political stuff now yet, but a couple things:

  1. I spy references to "this Amendment" etc. For clarity's sake, is this lot all one omnibus amendment? Is each section an amendment?
  2. I'm no constitutional lawyer, but I feel like saying that an amendment shall be a statute is either contradictory or at best confusing (and we all know that Constitutional ambiguity leads to judicial activism, of both flavors).
Actually, half-strike this one; it says serve as, which I guess is not really the same.

PacWalker 15:26, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Wait, wait! I have more!
  1. Right to drive plus substantive due process... intentional or no?
  2. "habits, or lifestyle" in the extended ERA: sexual habits/lifestyle or general any habits/lifestyle?
  3. Prohibition on prohibition: chloroform etc.?
  4. "Nor may they issue any other document for use as an identity card..." Birth certificates, SSS registration cards, student IDs (incidentally also in use as, say, an access control mechanism in some places)... intentional casualties?
  5. "No person shall suffer sequestration or confiscation of property on account of a criminal accusation before conviction..." would seem to make the procurement of physical evidence a lot harder.
  6. ...oath in this form... That isn't even an oath.
PacWalker 15:49, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
That amendment would simply prevent the right to drive from being suspended or taken away without some kind of adversarial proceeding subject to the current due process standard.
Sexual orientation, habits, or lifestyle is what it says.
The government might be able to justify a prohibition of chloroform. Just not on the grounds that you can get high on it.
Pretty much all identity cards and numbers are intentional casualties.
The idea behind the sequestration or confiscation part is to prohibit asset seizures or forfeitures before conviction.
The declarations are pretty much patterned after the Test Act oaths of the UK, which required renunciation of transubstantiation. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 15:59, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
  1. I got the procedural due process part. But substantive is a different pile of mess, as in say Loving v. Virginia or Meyer v. Nebraska. Neither case hinged on the procedures attached but rather the ability of the government to regulate certain conduct period. So to bring it back to this, Abrams?
  2. Correct... does that mean "sexual habits," or more generally "habits"?
  3. The big issue is that it is intoxicating... to others.
  4. Mmkay, probably should've seen that coming.
  5. But as worded, does it not prohibit any searches in relation to criminal cases?
  6. My point is that the form presented is an affirmation.
PacWalker 16:13, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Substantive due process prohibits government from regulating certain conduct generally, yes. If that conduct is off limits to government, that would already include making it a non-issue where drivers' licenses are concerned. The proposal simply requires due process before your license can be suspended or revoked, and prohibits making suspension automatic on arrests.
The way it's worded, "sexual" modifies all three following nouns: "sexual orientation, habits, or lifestyle".
Well, chloroform also damages the ozone layer.
It doesn't prohibit searches for physical evidence; but it would prevent the government from taking property that isn't evidence or freezing your bank accounts. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 16:25, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Fine, since you insist, my example compound is now this beauty, administered in a non-lethal dose. As to the others, well, you read your writing as being clearer than I do, but all right. PacWalker 17:07, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
As a synthetic, that's not covered by what I've written. And in any case, the amendment wouldn't prohibit outlawing intoxicating substances because of other dangers they represent; only that being intoxicating is no longer sufficient grounds to outlaw something. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 18:58, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
"No substance shall be made unlawful to possess, manufacture, consume, or sell on the grounds that it is intoxicating."
Now, unless you're pulling some voodoo "fish is not tangible" SCOTUS magic on me, that would seem to include both natural and artificial synthetic substances. And my point is that the danger IS that it's intoxicating; it isn't a separate issue. PacWalker 19:34, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Knowledge of how the courts tend to deal with these things makes me see no problem there. The wording I used -- No substance shall be made unlawful to possess, manufacture, consume, or sell on the grounds that it is intoxicating -- means fair game for any other reason to ban a substance besides intoxication. The fact that one of those substances could be weaponized counts as an independent ground and I'd expect that the ban could be sustained on that ground even if this were the law. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 02:28, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
But its weaponized use IS to intoxicate. The usefulness/potential as a weapon isn't separate from intoxication, it IS intoxication. PacWalker 05:09, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── You're assuming that the text is going to be interpreted with some sort of fundamentalist literalism. This, historically, has not happened; courts bend over backwards to avoid finding laws unconstitutional. All the government would have to show is that it had a reason to ban a substance beyond the fact that people can get high on it. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 15:45, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

Really, a Religious test?[edit]

We can't justify not having them "for" a religion if we're going to demand people take one to "not" be a religion--Miekal 15:31, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

^. Also, it's very specific. End-times Christianity and Catholic obedience. Why not include other shitty beliefs, while we're at the religious-exclusion game? FuzzyDogPotato (talk/stalk) 15:32, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
End times belief and belief in papal infallibility are both forms of disloyalty to the United States, in my opinion. That's why those particular beliefs are singled out. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 15:37, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
They're dumb-as-hell, but recognizing dumb-as-hell beliefs is the duty of voters, not of the electoral process. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 15:56, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
We can't have religious tests, we already said no to them. requiring a areligious test is already banned by the constitution. You'd have to take that away first and there'd be a religious test put in first to confirm the already existing de facto. --Miekal 16:48, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
It's a proposed constitutional amendment, so it would supersede the parts of the Constitution that prohibit them. When this is done by amendment, it's not necessary to specify that the original language is repealed. Wasn't necessary as early as 1803, when the Twelfth Amendment changed the procedures of the electoral college. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 17:02, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
So besides disbarring all catholics from office (which is beyond discriminatory i can't believe its coming from here) and requiring a (a)religious test, how would this keep us from repealing this and requiring you be a fundamentalist christian to be in office?--Miekal 17:14, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
It wouldn't, of course. If the portion of the constitution forbidding religious tests is repealed, the test that's put into place will depend on what is enacted. As to Catholics, I continue to agree with Blackstone, who wrote:
As to papists, what has been said of the Protestant dissenters would hold equally strong for a general toleration of them; provided their separation was founded only upon difference of opinion in religion, and their principles did not also extend to a subversion of the civil government. If once they could be brought to renounce the supremacy of the pope, they might quietly enjoy their seven sacraments, their purgatory, and auricular confession; their worship of relics and images; nay even their transubstantiation. But while they acknowledge a foreign power, superior to the sovereignty of the kingdom, they cannot complain if the laws of that kingdom will not treat them upon the footing of good subjects.
— — Bl. Comm. IV, c.4 ss. iii.2, p. *54
- Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 17:30, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Is your anti-papalism based on any real threat, though? Can you cite me even one instance of the pope exerting political power outside the borders of the Vatican in the last few decades? (talk) 17:57, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
He pretty much doesn't directly do it, but generally sways public opinion. Except when the Church is shifting money (which is really just power) around to avoid paying out for child-abuse suits, of course. oʇɐʇoԀʇɐϽʎzznℲ (talk/stalk) 18:39, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Aside from the money issue, which isn't as continual, and somewhat subject to limitation, this influence isn't preventable short of going full-on Great Firewall. PacWalker 19:37, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Also, Protestants, Muslims, and quite a few other religious groups (but not all, I know) acknowledge a "foreign power, superior to the sovereignty of the kingdom," but some lack the notion of a comparable earthly representative/agent/vicar/hoohawawa. PacWalker 19:48, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
So if the problem is that religious leaders can sway public opinion, why single out the Pope? (talk) 20:01, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The Pope is also a foreign dictator who tries to organize his followers as a fifth column. Much of Justice Jackson's concurring opinion in Dennis v. US applies with equal force to the Papacy. The Papacy seeks to organize Catholics in the United States into a bloc that would conform US laws to papal policy. Since the papacy is an authoritarian foreign government, this is a problem. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 20:37, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

This sounds a lot like anti-Catholic conspiracy theories. Or is it just that the Pope is the only head of a religious hierarchy who is also a head of state in his own right? To put it another way, if Tibet were to regain its independence with the Dalai Lama as a head of state, would you also require government officials to abjure Tibetan Buddhism? (talk) Meshakhad 20:46, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Or, to take a historical example, should all of the Crown's officers been forced to swear they weren't Muslims during the period up through ~Sevres-ish? PacWalker 21:03, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
I live in a Western Catholic-majority country and we have laws that allow euthanasia and abortion here. Our Christian party also isn't particularly dedicated to religious issues. Neither the Pope nor any of my nation's Catholic leaders have or excercise notable influence over the general public. In this context, I find these claims rather dubious. Are Catholics that more politicized in America and have I simply never heard of this? Also, I'd add that it would be more accurate to describe the Vatican as a small collection of mansions where Catholic leaders congregate and where the Pope has his residence during his democratically elected tenure. (talk) 21:13, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Here in the USA, the anti-abortion cult is one of our largest social problems. They need to be utterly and completely de-legitimized, and I'm so tired of hearing it that harsh measures seem justified. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 21:45, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
And you think that a large or notable portion of the people who rally around that issue are Catholic? I'm pretty skeptic about that. Got any sources to back that up? (talk) 21:56, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
And it's one that is primarily Protestant-based in nature. Remember, most political conservatives here in the USA view the vast majority of Catholics as "soft" and "cafeteria Christians". --Castaigne (talk) 21:55, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
No, that's a load of shit and I'm not shy in calling it out. There's no such political movement and if you knew anything about how the Church is organized, you would realize that the Pope doesn't even have the practical ability to do that. You can certainly - and I would - accuse that of American bishops, arch-bishops, and cardinals who are attempting to do that within their own personal fiefdoms and parishes. But this idea of the monolithic Church with the scheming Pope comes from you reading through the anti-Catholic and anti-Mormon sections of fundie Protestant bookstores. --Castaigne (talk) 21:59, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
I tend to see the Roman Catholics as the ideologues of the anti-abortion cult, and the Protestants mostly as dupes. The real dynamic everywhere, and the actual selling point, is hostility to sexual freedom. It's the Roman church that invented the idea that life begins at conception, and it's taking that nonsense seriously that leads to the real mischief. It's the Catholics who started the claim that there's no difference between contraception and abortion.
I also gather that there's much less of an objection to excluding end-timers from public office. That seems obvious to me; people who think Armageddon is right around the corner shouldn't influence the politics of a nuclear power.
That said, I may try to reword that bit, and have stricken it for the moment. FWIW, I think that the Roman church would want to be a "monolithic church" with the Pope calling the shots and able to enforce his will wherever Catholics acquire political power. It's not for want of trying; go read Paul Blanshard's American Freedom and Catholic Power to see how they operated to keep the press in line as late as the 1950s. Fortunately, the USA has a culture with many attractive features, and they haven't been able to put in place the machines they had in Quebec before the 1960s and Ireland before the 1980s. Political Catholicism has always been more comfortable with kings and strongmen governments. World War II is not yet over while the Papacy still exists. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 02:23, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
Must... not... Godwin... PacWalker 05:07, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
"I tend to see the Roman Catholics as the ideologues of the anti-abortion cult, and the Protestants mostly as dupes."
Speaking kindly, this still assumes a monolithic view of Catholicism - and Christianity in general - that does not exist. Speaking as a former Catholic, you seem unaware that Catholicism is riven with multiple factions desperately striving for different goals. Also, emphasis on doctrine varies considerably in parish, boshipric, or so on according to which level and person is in control. While there is doctrine on abortion (forbidding it, of course), is varyingly enforced and promoted according to a specific person's interests.
The Protestants, on the other hand, have taken anti-abortion dialogue and political influence and ramped it up in the USA. Being also familiar with the Baptists and other American-born Christian sects of the South, I cannot emphasize how central anti-abortion doctrine is to them, much more so than to Catholicism. Anti-abortion is necessary to increase the number of people, to increase the Army of God, to make ready for the End Times with a Quiverfull.
Roman Catholics are practically relaxed about abortion these days. Protestants are not dupes; they are the current instigators.
"It's the Roman church that invented the idea that life begins at conception, and it's taking that nonsense seriously that leads to the real mischief. It's the Catholics who started the claim that there's no difference between contraception and abortion. "
No doubt, and it's quite obvious where this began. But where this has been taken over time is different. It's still far more serious to the Protestants, to the hellfire-and-brimstone types. With the RC, you can be forgiven your sin. Also, the RC in general (and that's a loaded term) pays more attention to the science on it then do the Prosties.
"That seems obvious to me; people who think Armageddon is right around the corner shouldn't influence the politics of a nuclear power."
I don't disagree. However, I cannot support one-sided measures to prevent it. It violates the Constitution and such an Amendment would make a mockery of the 1st Amendment.
"FWIW, I think that the Roman church would want to be a "monolithic church" with the Pope calling the shots and able to enforce his will wherever Catholics acquire political power."
Not anymore, no. And not for the forseeable future, either. The Church of today is not that of the Papal States and it will be long before that occurs again. You'd have to have "A Canticle For Leibowitz" happen before it did.
"It's not for want of trying; go read Paul Blanshard's American Freedom and Catholic Power to see how they operated to keep the press in line as late as the 1950s."
That book is blatant crap on the level of "The Monk" or "Six Months in a Convent". There was no Catholic Plan for America. If I wanted to acknowledge such crap, I'd join the Birchers.
"Political Catholicism has always been more comfortable with kings and strongmen governments."
No fucking shit that a feudal system is comfortable with - GASP! - feudal monarchies and feudal governments!
And we too here in the USA are quite comfortable with strongmen and strongmen governments too, so long as they serve our purpose.
"World War II is not yet over while the Papacy still exists."
So we're still fighting the fascists until the Catholic Church is destroyed, eh?
You know, I can introduce you to several Baptists who will agree with you and assist you in the crusade against the evil Satanic Catholics. They will be happy to have your help in establishing the Holy American Kingdom of the GODLAW.
I don't have time for this nonsense. --Castaigne (talk) 15:08, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm starting to suspect that the relative involvement of Catholics and Protestants in the anti-abortion cult may vary from one location to another. I do think that the Allies should have treated the Pope like they did Hirohito, and make him renounce his claims to primacy, infallibility, and universal authority as the price of keeping his perks. He was an enemy agent sitting on a throne granted by Mussolini.
Now, the Southern Baptists may locally be worse than Catholics in places where they abound. On the other hand, the Baptists were made in America, make no claims to universal authority, and do not claim that other denominations are only imperfectly Christian. More importantly, the Southern Baptist congregations elect representatives to the conference that governs the church, individual congregations are independent, and policy is set by people accountable to the laity. That in itself makes the Baptists a little less sinister than Roman Catholicism in my eye. The worst of the Protestants will be swept in by the prohibition on public office for end-timers. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 15:59, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
As I've already pointed out, making people denounce certain beliefs will fail to successfully weed out people with those beliefs from the government; it'll only motivate them to hide their religious allegiances. Additionally, the blatant discrimination would provide further motivation for members of that demographic to infiltrate the government. Your anti-religious conspiracy theories would end up becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. (talk) 16:57, 9 April 2015 (UTC)


Where would Peter Pan and Great Ormond Street Hospital fit into the copyright discussion? (It is a special case - and 'benefitting causes generally accepted to be good' is a valid reason for variance).

What about Presidential birthplaces? (Is there anything in the constitution preventing the President appointing an entire cabinet of persons who have been born or lived substantial periods out of the United States?) (talk) 16:01, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Sex offenders looking for housing, death penalty for treason, required declaration of faith that the end times are not upon us and opposition to the Pope[edit]

While I do think the current method involving sex offender registries takes things too far, I don't think the government should be disallowed from disallowing sex offenders to, say, move into the house next to the residence of one of their previous victims.

I generally disapprove of the death penalty, but I especially disapprove of it when it's used to condemn a crime that doesn't involve any victims ending up dead. I also think "treason" is a pretty lame criminal offense to come up with. "You were disloyal to the state! Shame on you!" Now if you were to combine treason with actually endangering American citizens' lives, you'd have a much stronger case. (Also, why is treason in the same section as abortion? >.>)

That religious pledge is silly. If you want people to declare "I'll be loyal to the US government, obey all its laws and respect all of its citizens, regardless of any religious convictions I may have telling me not to" that's reasonable enough, but picking two specific religious beliefs and requiring people to denounce them if they have them is just stupid. Not only is it openly discriminative against huge population groups, it also ensures that any Catholics or EndTimers that do end up in the government will be dishonest ones (i.e. the specific kind of Catholic/EndTimer that you should be trying hardest to keep out). (talk) 16:16, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

To play devil's advocate, couldn't the "not next to victims" argument be made for non-sex crimes too under a more gendergeneral restraining order system? ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 16:24, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Indeed, and I wouldn't object to it. Well, except for minor crimes like theft or something. (talk) 16:28, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Castaigne's Opinions[edit]

  1. Drug Legalization: This does not need to be an amendment. Repealing of various laws and implementation of legislation are sufficient.
  2. Abolition of Excise Taxes: Uh, no. I don't see a need for this.
  3. Extended ERA: #1 is fine, although expansion of the legislation works just as well. We don't really want to codify the protected classes like that; it makes it exceedingly difficult to add any if they are needed later. Also, 'habits' and 'lifestyle' are exceedingly vague and would lead to lots of litigation as to what is a habit or a lifestyle. There could be deleterious effects; a strict reading could easily see pedophilia as a "habit". #2 is really already handled by 1st Amendment legislation and caselaw on obscenity, thus not necessary. #3 can fuck right off.
  4. Voting Right for Felons: Yes, sure.
  5. Right To Drive: Fuck that.
  6. Copyright: Change the legislation. Does not need an amendment.
  7. Abortion & Treason: #1? Could be debated, though I prefer to see it handled by legislation. #2 can fuck right off. So can #3. These things need to be decided by statute, not by amendment.
  8. Conscription: Are there conscription issues in the USA right now? No, I don't really see Selective Service as a problem...what issue does this amendment correct?
  9. Debt Imprisonment: Yes, sure.
  10. Identity Documents: Fuck You NO. You haven't thought this through at all. Aside from immediate dismantling of the tax, Medicare, Social Security, welfare, and disability systems, it opens up huge areas of identity fraud that business cannot cope with. Try again.
  11. Crime & Asset Forfeitures: Some debate to winkle out fine details - I absolutely want to prevent a con man from being able to use his embezzled cash to defend himself in court - I mostly don't have a problem with this.
  12. Religious Test: #1, forget it. The Pope does have a very tiny nation. And what happens if the Papal States come back? They're just persona non grata? We recognize Iran and they're run by the mullahs. #2 is a clear conflict with the 1st Amendment and will result in endless litigation. Also, it focuses solely on Judaism and Christianity. Under it, Islamic fundamentalist beliefs would be totes OK. Or State Shinto. Or any other authoritarian religion not Christianity or Judaism. I cannot support any amendment that singles out religions, so it can fuck right off. --Castaigne (talk) 20:01, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Yeah that last point really warrants outright hostility. I don't quite get smerdis in general. He swings from sane deconstructor to overtly-hostile highly-targeted ideological antagonizer on a dime. I see the recurring theme of being opposed to ideologies. But it's not just when he's opposed to my ideology that it happens. I'm pretty damn uncatholic and anti-theistic, and this is just an explosion of hatred for a diverse group of beliefs. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 20:13, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
As to conscription, the main point is the latter part: "war declared by Congress". A formal declaration of war in the manner originally intended by the Constitution's text is required before conscription can be put into effect. Any war fought only under a resolution or by the executive branch alone cannot result in conscription.
As to the right to drive, that seems urgently needed to curb an obvious abuse. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 02:35, 8 April 2015 (UTC)


Your portion on drug legalization doesn't include LSD, DMT, amphetamine, and other banned substances. You legalize cocaine but not LSD? PBfreespace (talk) 01:37, 27 June 2016 (UTC)

I tried to cover all the major bases with long standing and well known plant substances: mescaline rather than LSD, cocaine rather than amphetamines. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 14:48, 27 June 2016 (UTC)


Shouldn't the punishment for treason go under the amendment that describes what treason is? RoninMacbeth (talk) 19:50, 20 September 2017 (UTC)

Single Subject Matter[edit]

While I do think that bills should stick to a single subject, I believe that the second part, to automatically repeal any law named after a person, is an extremely bad idea. Quickly cribbing items from Wikipedia, this provision would eliminate:

  • The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1994
  • The Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009
  • The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006
  • The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990
  • The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890
  • The Hatch Act of 1939 (prohibiting government employees from engaging in political activity)
  • The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 (government jobs should be given on the basis of merit and competency, not political patronage)
  • The Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Registration Act

And I'm sure that I could find more if I spent more time looking. To be honest, I don't think that would be a good thing.

P.S. Treason is already defined in the United States Constitution Kalmbach (talk) 16:40, 28 October 2020 (UTC)

The t4ext I wrote forbids and repeals laws named as memorials, not laws named after legislators who wrote or sponsored them. Matthew Shepherd, Adam Walsh, Ryan White, and Jacob Wetterling would all be repealed by them, and possibly Brady as well. Sherman and Pendleton would remain. Frankly I think that legislation should stand or fall on its own merits; naming legislation as a memorial to a crime victim stinks of moral blackmail and should be strictly forbidden. The Constitution does currently define treason; the amendment just expands the definition. Smerdis of Tlön, wekʷōm teḱsos. 19:10, 28 October 2020 (UTC)