By now, it’s no longer a question of if, but when. At least 20 years ago, I put the likely date as 2020, but, then, I’m no psychic. The point is it’s making less and less sense for the country to be stretched like taffy whenever any significant governmental program is in question. And I’m not talking only about the current health care quagmire, or even the mind-boggling question of when the Senate is bound by majority rule. There are a lot of others that have popped up during the last half century or so. We’ve seen them, talked and talked about them, and they remain unresolved.
Here are just a few:
What is the relationship of the Press to the PUBLIC, specifically in terms of protections that go beyond what the average citizen enjoys?
Do we want to retain the Electoral College?
What is the will of the AMERICAN PEOPLE with regard to abortion?
To what extent should the Government have the power to create and increase the national debt?
Hold on! Save your own suggestions for your elected representatives
But first, let me explain why such a convention may even be sooner than 2020. Specifically, why the Supreme Court seems unable to fix the problem. For really major questions, especially those involving the Bill of Rights, the Court engages in refined, elevated debates concerning the language used by the Founding Fathers in drafting the Constitution. It often results in yet another 5-4 decision that sets the clock running. That is, the losing side starts counting the days, and piling its legal ammunition, until it regains a majority, and can pick a case that will reverse, or significantly weaken, that hateful decision.
The most recent example was the Citizens Union case, which involved corporate contributions to federal elections. The Court overturned two precedents and held that some restrictions on corporate funding of political speech was unconstitutional. The most eye-opening part was not the decision itself but the dissent by Justice Stevens. It’s not that I want to put my own take on the matter as superior, or even equal to his. With his intellect and experience, he could run rings around me. Similarly, we could all argue about whether Kennedy’s majority decision or Stevens’ dissent “wins” the argument. I don’t believe that it can be won, or even that it needs to be. The real question is why should the will of the American people about how we want to live today depend on what legal scholars tell us about what the Founding Fathers meant over two hundred years ago?
The questions posed by the Citizens Union case are worth discussing by all Americans, not just lawmakers. I’m sure that my readers can nominate a number of other questions of equal importance. Well, it’s time we examined our options. I hope we can start a dialogue, no a polylogue, on whether the American People should schedule a Constitutional Convention as quickly as possible. Tell me what you think now. I know that I’ll be writing more about this.