Tinkering With the Constitution

National Review: Jonah Goldberg: Constitutional Amendments and Citizenship Rights

Progressives love to tinker with the constitutional design. They simply do it by stealth, appointing Supreme Court justices such as Elena Kagan, who, her testimony notwithstanding, everyone knows will treat the Constitution like Felix the Cat’s magic bag; when she searches the document hard enough, you know she’ll find what she’s looking for.

But when conservatives who talk about reverence for the Constitution also want to update it in a way that is actually consistent with the “genius of our constitutional design,” they are hypocrites and radicals.

I happen to believe that the hand of Providence played a larger role in the formation of our nation than many now would be willing to admit, and perhaps even more than our founders realized at the time, in spite of numerous clues in their writings indicating that they were all too aware of the existence of divine intervention and its influence on the events of the time.

Regardless of their individual religious preferences, or lack thereof, so many of our forefathers spoke with such ease about the role of faith, virtue and morality not only in the establishment of our fledgling nation but in the steps necessary to ensure its stability and viability for years to come.  Those imperfect men won a bloody war against the premier fighting force in the world at that time, and after doing so they set out and created, in America, the antithesis of everything from which they and those in the generations before them had run.

I look at the United States Constitution as a work of beauty.  Unlike some other people we know, when I read our Constitution I don’t see a fundamentally flawed document — I see an instrument in which every paragraph, sentence, word and punctuation mark has independent significance, meaning rooted in the very triumphs and tribulations which brought this nation about.  That’s why, when I saw Jonah Goldberg’s most recent piece yesterday at National Review, “Constitutional Amendments and Citizenship Rights,” I knew I would like it.  And when I saw the deck below the headline, which reads “[c]entral to the Constitution’s genius are the mechanisms to change it,” I stopped everything I was doing and read every word.

Later, when the time is right, I’ll get into the evolving perspective of senior South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, mentioned by Goldberg at the top of the piece for his recent argument that the Fourteenth Amendment should be revised so as to eliminate automatic birthright citizenship.  For now, though, please do what I did: stop everything and read Goldberg’s commentary.



  1. Boston Blackie says:

    The first thing that comes to mind are the states that are ignoring the electoral college and deciding to give their’s to the popular vote winner. Here in mASSachusetts, I know it will come back to bite them where the sun don’t shine ala Nixon v McGovern. Is this even legal!?!

  2. Thomas Jefferson says:

    “From birthright citizenship and gay marriage to flag-burning and gun rights, I trust the American people to change the Constitution when necessary (after lengthy debate) more than I trust five out of nine unelected justices with lifetime tenure, hiding behind closed doors and away from TV cameras”

    (from Jonah’s article)

    Anybody else smell common sense????

  3. Ima SoBelle says:

    Jeff, Thanks for this. I am a strong believer that the Constitution was divinely inspired. I believe that this country is unique in all the world in that we, unlike most other peoples of the world, are free to speak our minds, have the right to freedom of assembly, the right to keep and bear arms and all else that devolves from the Constitution. I thank God for the blessing of living in this country.

    I read Jonah Goldberg’s article and see that he gets it. The Constitution was written so that it could be amended if necessary, but not easily. States are given the opportunity to research and debate proposed amendments and to allow for citizen input (if they are not rushed through). South Carolina played a very important role in stopping the Equal Rights Amendment back in the late 1970s. It was not generally understood that passage of the ERA would have had immediate far-reaching negative consequences on all aspects of our society. Some of those negative effects have come to pass anyway, but only through piecemeal legislation and judicial fiat. Thank goodness for Phyllis Schlafly, who at first almost single-handedly alerted people to the dangers of passage of that divisive amendment. A grassroots movement started and people finally saw it for what it was. Here in SC, people from all over the state rallied at the State House numerouse times while the Legislature was in session. I think the Senators and Representatives were totally taken by surprise at the number of people who cared enough to become involved. It reminds me of the Tea Party Movement now.

    In my opinion, the worst thing that could happen would be for a Constitutional Convention to be called. It would be dangerous and well might lead to a complete overthrowing of the Constitution as it is now written. All would depend on whom attended as designated participants. Let the amendment process serve the purpose for which it was intended. Propose amendments, research, debate and allow for public input. Long, drawn out wrangling would probably occur, but in the long run, we can hope that the Constitution would better serve us.

    Our elected officials have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Many of them apparently had their fingers crossed behind their backs.

    There are millions of Americans who are awakening to the threats that are facing us now and who are willing to stand up for what is right and true about our great country. I continue to pray for the preservation of the Constitution and that more and more people will join with with us in this great movement.

    Never say never. Dum Spiro, Spero (While I breathe, I hope-SC State motto).

  4. William A. Rose says:

    Common Sense, yes. With the Supreme Court as it is now, and the government having such tight control over about 70% of the economy, we are but one step away from a dictatorship.

  5. Anonymous says:

    William Rose,

    oh what an insurgency awaits any dictator here.

  6. William A. Rose says:

    Ima SoBelle is cool.

  7. Butch says:

    The way the Constitution is being trampled on, the fact that a muslim socialist has taken control of our country and is doing his level best to destroy it, and the fact that most of the people representing us in DC are lifelong politicians/employees of non-profits with no actual real world experience, I see only one way out of this mess without bloodshed. The states must assert states’ rights. States must join forces, prepare a list of areas where the government under Obama has usurped their rights and the rights of the people, DEMAND that the feds keep their hands off and begin to assert the power the Constitution allowed to the states and the people.

    In fact I have tried to convince our state that the best way to control this mess is for the states to get together, tell the feds that based upon their incompetency in controlling the budget, spending far too much on their own specific agendas and their failure to live up to the oath of defending the Constitution, we will:

    - keep ALL tax money paid by our citizens in our state treasury
    - fund all of our own infrastructure and control these areas as we see fit, including roads and education
    - any attempt by the federal government to assert its authority over our citizens concerning taxes will be considered an aggression against the state and will be treated accordingly
    - will remit our pro-rata share of national defense to the national treasury

  8. Anonymous says:

    I stand with Butch! States rights, darn it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Just let John Buyon rewrite the entire 3 page constitution, he is so much wiser than the founders. (insert non-taxable smiley face here)

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