THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 770, May 11, 2014
What's my fair share of it all?
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
A variety of people have complained about Former Justice John Paul Stevens "proposed change of the 2nd Amendment to specify that it only protects the right to keep and bear arms for the completion of militia duty." What everyone seems to have disregarded is that this is only one of six amendments he is proposing to the Constitution. He has done this in a book appropriately entitled . Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution (see also slate.com for more info.).
As per the cited article, these are the amendments he would make:
Stevens wants to abolish the death penalty, allow for more gun control and campaign finance regulation, and give judges the power to block gerrymandering. He would also allow the federal government to order around state officials and enable people to sue state governments for damages. The six amendments he proposes would overturn Supreme Court decisions, many of which Stevens dissented from when he served on the court.
The article in question does not necessarily condemn or support any of these amendments, so in this article neither will I. I will point out that this article proposes something much, much worse. It argues that it is too hard to amend the Constitution. Way back when, as a more cocksure and less skilled writer, I suggested the analogy of the restrictions placed on the Federal Government to the safeties on a GI .45. I was thinking of Massad Ayoub's articles pointing out how prosecutors would point out to cancelled safety features as evidence of criminal intent. Ayoub pointed out that one thing that would indicate criminal intent or at least negligence is making the trigger too light.
If you will, making the amendment process easier would be putting a hair trigger on the pistol of state, making it too easy for people's rights to arbitrarily be stripped away or changed from one administration to the next. Mind you, this already occurs, but there is no wisdom in putting a legal gloss on this abuse.
The Constitution should be hard to amend, especially to make changes for transient and modish reasons. Apparently neither John Paul Stevens or Eric Posner get this.
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