"What's Wrong with Constitutional Amendments?"
Constitutional amendments are a big deal. They can alter the basic framework of the government under which we live. In "What's Wrong with Constitutional Amendments?" Kathleen Sullivan feels that messing around with the Constitution with amendments that will be hard to remove can be a mistake if not taken seriously enough. She thinks that the current fervor in Congress for proposing amendments can only lead to problems.
Sullivan begins by describing some of the proposed amendments floating around Congress. There are calls for a balanced budget amendment, term limits for Congress, denaturalization of children of illegal immigrants, and rights of procedure for crime victims. To her, more amendment proposals have been taken seriously now than at any other recent time. Some of them are bad- and not just because of their merits. They can represent just a tool in a short-term political game.
Amendments may end up lasting for a very long time and shouldn't be used for those purposes.
In the history of our country, the Constitution has only been amended twenty-seven times. Ten were the Bill of Rights, added all at once. Only two changed the original structure of the government. The Seventeenth Amendment made it so that senators were popularly elected, and the Twenty-second Amendment established a two-term limit on the president. There has never been a constitutional convention aside from the original one.
Kathleen Sullivan believes that the reason people in the past have been so respectful of the Constitution is because there are political advantages over a system of government whose basic structure is always changing. A stable agreement on the fundamental organizational principles of the system must be maintained. However, she dismisses the view that the Constitution is too sacred to be touched.
Sullivan gives three reasons...