We’ve been discussing jj’s claim that laws change the Constitution all the time. People have pointed to Kelo, Roe and gun laws as examples.
I suspect we all know how the system works, but please allow me a short review. The legislature may not pass a law that violates the Constitution. The legislature passes law, either with the executive’s signature or over his/her veto. If the law is challenged in Court, the Court then determines if it is consistent with the constitution. If the Court decided it is, it stays. If not, out it goes. Ultimately, under our current system, the Supreme Court decided whether a law is constitutional. Once the Supreme Court has decided, the only three courses to change that decision are (1) replace members of the Court and bring the matter before it again; (2) amend the Constitution through the normal means; or (3) call a Constitutional Convention to amend it.
So, my question is, if you are unhappy with how this system is working out, how would you change it? I’d like to hear anything from small modifications to major restructuring. Whatever you think would improve the system, I’d like to hear about.
Let me throw out a couple of ideas. You probably know I’m against term limits for legislators. But I favor them for judges. Lifetime appointments make it very hard to correct a Court that has gone amiss. Even worse, they encourage the appointment of young, underqualified, judges, under the theory that the maximum way to make you mark on the Court is to nominate someone whose views are consistent with your and who is young enough to serve for 40 years, expressing those views. A president who has enough openings can stack a Court for a very long time that way. Term limits would put an end to this practice.
I’ve also said I want a balanced budget amendment because politicians simply will not balance the budget long term without one. I would modify that to this extent. The government can run surpluses and save the money from those surpluses for a rainy day, if you will. In any given year, the goverment can unbalance the budget, but only to the extent that it has saved money to do so. I guess what I’m looking for is a plan to pay off the national debt, after which the government could do anything it wanted, so long as it never went into debt again. I know many people say this is impractical. But I also know that the smallest exception to a hard and fast rule will be exploited by the politicians and we will quicklyend up back where we started.
Okay, what would you like to change? What kind of system do you think would work better and why?