Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Features

September 19, 2012

Slate: What's next for the U.S. Constitution?

(Continued)

So much for the past 225 years. Let's now think about the next two centuries. How could we spruce up our founding documents based on changes the states have made to theirs?

Many states have term limits for state legislators and also allow voters to recall corrupt or incompetent state lawmakers in certain situations. This invites us to think hard about whether the federal Constitution should provide similar checks against Congress. Or consider the fact that no state has an upper house in which each county has two seats, regardless of population. Perhaps the Senate could be changed to be more proportionate. Imagine, for instance, a federal amendment giving each state at least one senator and capping even the largest state at eight senators. This would keep the Senate at roughly its present size and would respect the existence of the states, while dramatically reducing mal-apportionment. (There is, of course, a special rule in the U.S. Constitution making it particularly difficult to modify the apportionment of the Senate via a constitutional amendment. But nothing prevents future amenders from preserving the existing apportionment of the official "Senate" while transferring much of the Senate's real power to a newly created, more proportionate, entity — call it Senate 2.0.)

Consider also the way that the states elect governors — directly by the voters, one person, one vote. If the federal Electoral College is so good, why does no state closely follow it? Let's scrap it. And if naturalized Americans like California's Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michigan's Jennifer Granholm can be trusted to serve as governors, why not amend the federal Constitution to allow them to run for president? (In fact, in 2004, the Senate held hearings on just such a proposed amendment, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and strongly endorsed by several congressional Democrats.)

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