The Fiscal Times recently asked me and a number of others, “How would you amend the Constitution?“ Here’s how the Times categorized my response:
DON’T CHANGE A THING
Several major conservative thinkers suggested that the Constitution does not need to be changed, but rather to have its principle of limited government guide both Congress and the president.
Michael Cannon at the Cato Institute noted that the Fourth Amendment protects against warrantless searches, “yet the National Security Agency tracks everybody with Congress’ tacit if not explicit consent.”
First of all, and I fear I will be explaining this to reporters for the rest of my life, I am not a conservative. I support gay marriage, cutting military spending, closing all U.S. bases in foreign nations, and ending the prohibitions on drugs, gambling, and prostitution. Of such stuff conservatives are not made.
Second, the above excerpt scarcely captures my response to the Times’ inquiry. Don’t change a thing?? Here is my response in full:
There are constitutional amendments I want to see. And yet.
Americans don’t need to amend the Constitution so much as they need politicians to honor what the Constitution already says. The Constitution creates a government of enumerated and therefore limited powers; Congress and the president routinely exceed those powers. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, particularly political speech; Congress heavily regulates and rations political speech. The Fourth Amendment protects “persons, houses, papers, and effects” from “unreasonable searches” and requires “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause”; yet the NSA tracks everybody with Congress’ tacit if not explicit consent. The states could ratify an amendment that says, “Hey, we mean it!”; but the Constitution already contains two amendments saying that (the Ninth and Tenth). What is the point of amending the Constitution if Congress will just ignore that amendment too?
This could soon become a Very Big Problem. If Congress keeps acting like it is not bound by the Constitution, then eventually the people will conclude that they aren’t either.
That is, I don’t want to amend the Constitution so much as I want to stop politicians and bureaucrats from amending it unlawfully – i.e., without going through the Article V amendment process – and stop the courts from rubber-stamping those extra-legal amendments.
It would be great if, as the Times writes, the Constitution’s principle of limited government were to guide both Congress and the president. I would settle for having the plain words of the Constitution constrain Congress and the president. That constraint will have to come from the people, and federal judges.