Changes in the Constitution That Experts Would Like to Make

PHOTO: The Preamble to the US Constitution starts with the phrase "We The People" and shows only some of the writing from the upper left hand corner of the document of the Constitution.

The Constitution has held the United States government together for more than 200 years with remarkably few changes – there have been only 27 ratified amendments in part because it is such a difficult process. That's the whole point, and that's why there haven't been any additions since 1992, well before the new millennium.

But the Constitution is also a document written before asphalt superhighways or the information superhighway, before electricity or flight, much less the predator drones and extended ammunition clips President Obama might mention in tonight's State of the Union address.

Those are in-depth political and policy issues. There are some simpler things that many Constitutional scholars think should be changed – like the ban on natural born citizens becoming president or your rights to online privacy. If they had their way, what else would the people who spend their time reading the Constitution change about the Constitution?

Akhil Reed Amar, Yale law professor and author of America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By, speaks out in favor of constitutional change.

"We need the Constitution to continue to promote liberty and equality," he told ABC News. "The framers of the Constitution thought about what should be addressed in their futures. We should be thinking about how the Constitution will address ours."

The principle of liberty and equality, Amar said, should extend to non-natural born citizens' ability to run for president.

"The ability to run for president feeds into the American Dream ideal," he said. "This will help the Henry Kissingers as well as the Madeleine Albrights. It will benefit both parties."

"The Constitution is imperfect, as every human creation is, but it has served us remarkably well over the centuries," Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe told ABC News. "It contains enough play in the joints and ambiguities to permit it to be 'updated' through a process that involves the people, their elected representatives and the courts."

Tribe is not opposed to the idea of adding another amendment to get America back to the government the founding framers originally envisioned.

"I'd leave [the Constitution's] language alone with the possible exception of an amendment to deal with the terrible problem of money in politics," he said.

That's an issue on which Supreme Court weighed in back in 2010, settling that corporations and nonprofits have the right to free speech by spending money on elections.

Other issues could not have been foreseen by the framers. There was no Facebook in 1789 Philadelphia. Today, websites constantly update their privacy settings, location tracking systems are features on virtually all devices, and individual privacy often comes as an afterthought in the face of high-tech convenience. The popularity of a few specific websites, like Facebook and Google, makes curbing the privacy problem more complicated since it forces the government to butt heads with private companies.

"Right now, Facebook and Google have more power over free speech than any president or Supreme Court justice," George Washington University Law School Professor Jeffrey Rosen told ABC News.

Like Tribe, Rosen has a new amendment in mind, but his proposal would not significantly alter the Constitution. Instead, his idea would add a few clarifying words to the Fourth Amendment in order to tackle the issue of online privacy.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...