If you run Windows (I don’t!), you must be familiar with Microsoft Service Packs. These are a collection of bug fixes, minor features, and general cleanups that you have to apply to Windows occasionally to keep it running (relatively) smoothly. (Which is one of the many reasons that I have never owned a Windows machine, but that’s another story.)
I think it’s time for a Service Pack for the U.S. Constitution! I propose the following ten amendments:
- The sixteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
- The seventeenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
- This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
- No person shall serve more than a total of twelve years in the House of Representatives.
- The legislatures of the states shall define geographical districts for the election of Representatives consistent with the terms of Article I, Section 2 of this Constitution.
- These districts shall be geographically compact and contiguous and, whenever possible, shall not divide existing counties, municipalities, or other local political entities.
- This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the district or term of any Representative chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution
- Judges of the supreme and inferior courts of the United States shall serve a term not to exceed twenty-one years from appointment.
- At the conclusion of a term, a judge may be reappointed subject to the requirements of Article II, Section 2 of this Constitution.
- If not reappointed, a judge completing a 21-year term shall receive lifetime compensation equal to that of judges currently serving in the same capacity.
- All judicial nominations shall be confirmed or rejected by the full Senate within ninety days of their submission by the President. If the Senate does not vote on a nomination, the nominee may be sworn into office on or after the ninety-first day after submission.
- This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the term of any supreme or inferior court judge chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
- The right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
- The states may make exceptions to this provision only in cases regarding convicted felons, dishonorably discharged members of the armed forces, or minor children.
- Consistent with Amendments X and XXI to this Constitution, the Federal government shall have no power to regulate or prohibit the sale or use of any drug. These powers shall be reserved to the individual states.
- In any action brought before the supreme or inferior courts of the United States, the losing party in the action must pay all court-related costs for the winning party.
- The individual states are hereby encouraged to adopt similar provisions for their supreme and inferior courts.
- A provision of a treaty which conflicts with this Constitution shall not be of any force or effect.
- A treaty shall become effective as internal law in the United States only through legislation which would be valid in the absence of treaty.
- Congress shall have power to regulate all executive and other agreements with any foreign power or international organization. All such agreements shall be subject to the limitations imposed on treaties by this article.
- The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
- No bounties shall be granted from the Treasury, nor shall any duties or taxes on importation from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry.
- Every law, or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title.
You might be interested to note that the last two amendments are lifted verbatim from the Confederate Constitution. There were some pretty bright constitutional scholars in the South who, after eighty years experience with the existing Constitution, thought it needed a couple of changes. (They also included a line-item veto for the President, but I think the prohibition on omnibus legislation will achieve the same result.)
Note that I have stayed away from hot-button emotional amendments like abortion, flag-burning, gay marriage, and the ERA. I’ve tried to focus on issues that could actually be passed by the Congress and ratified by the states. (Although it might take a constitutional convention to implement Amendment XXXVII!)