Posted by: Jack | December 10, 2007

U.S. Constitution – Not a Huge Fan Of It

I should admit, I haven’t taken the time to read the full text or tried to fully comprehend all that is written in the first few sections about the branches of the government, the processes involved in making amendments, etc. I’m more concerned with the list of various amendments currently in place. The whole thing strikes me as a big set of rigid morals. And I feel the world could do away with morality, taking on in it’s place, a well adapted concept of ethics. For clarification (since many use “moral” and “ethical” interchangeably), I understand morals as definitive rulings on what is right and what is wrong. These rulings are generally set in place by an authority — real or imaginary — such as a ruler, government or supernatural being. With morals, the issues are not really debatable. Ethics, on the other hand, are established ideas about right and wrong as they apply to whatever individual or group is concerned.

So, moral type amendments I would do away with:

  • First Part of Amendment 1 – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
    • I could go into way too many details on this one
  • Amendment 2 – A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
    • Given the current state of things, I find it necessary to support rights to carry firearms because of the statistics regarding violent crime in the presence-of vs. the lack-of such laws. However, I’m pretty amazed that so many people are totally ok with the amount of firearms which are made available. People always say that if you ban guns, all you do is give criminals the benefit of knowing that others don’t have guns. But what if you ban the production of guns aside from military and enforcement needs? Certainly their will be illegal production but it obviously won’t compare to the market that exists today. And then there are the hunters. If you live in a hunter/gatherer civilization or hunt because it is truly an economically wise means of meeting some of your fundamental needs, then I am willing to listen to your pro-hunting argument. Other than those minuscule minorities, I don’t think it’s justified.
  • Amendment 3 – No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
    • First of all, this doesn’t seem likely to come into play in the future but that’s hardly reason to do away with it. However, if it is going to remain, the last little phrase seems like a direct contradiction to part of Amendment 5: nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
  • Amendment 7 – In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…
    • I have no problem with this but think it’s funny that it was deemed necessary to define a minimum value which apparently has not changed with inflation.
  • Amendment 8 – …nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted
    • Forms of punishment that are actually appropriate such that they correspond directly to the crime committed are usually considered unusual simply because they don’t consist of either a fine, imprisonment, or some combination of the two. Community service is an exception but is generally limited to minor crimes. There was a good Boston Legal episode about the pros of unusual punishment.
  • Amendment 14 – It’s really long but there is one section — which I don’t think I’ve ever read prior to just now — that says you pretty much can’t take any higher office if you’ve previously participated in a rebellion against that office. So where as many countries value their history of revolting and replacing the government, ours denies the possibility to do so. But, I suppose a true revolt would generally involve breaking a law here and there and the constitution would do little to stand in it’s way.

Alright, well I’m getting a little bored with this so I’m sure you are too. But here’s what I’m thinking; there is plenty of good in the constitution but putting it in the constitution just makes it a problem when our society changes…which is happening at an accelerating rate. If those issues were established as regular old laws they wouldn’t be viewed as so absolute and would then be open for adaptation to new situations which could not have been predicted when the law was originally written.

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