Constitution too hard to change

2012-10-07

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is promoting his new book like there is no tomorrow. Among the flurry of similarly worded presentations, the Associated Press picked up a point he made in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute:

Scalia said the Constitution makes changing it too hard by requiring 38 states to ratify an amendment for it to take effect.

“It is very difficult to adopt a constitutional amendment,” Scalia said. He once calculated that less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, residing in the 13 least populous states, could stop an amendment, he said.

Antonin ScaliaAntonin Scalia | AP Photo, Jessica Hill

I agree. It echoes my observation that the German constitution is much easier to change, making it a living constitution and certainly easing the interpretative burden on the highest court.

The elected executive and legislative branches have a legitimate interest to update constitutional law according to the people’s evolving moral standards. Right now, that interest is funneled into an unproductive fight over judicial nominations, trying to exert indirect influence over the Supreme Court.

It would lead to a much more healthy discourse, and probably to better and more bipartisan judicial nominations, if there was a workable approach (and thus an obligation) for the legislature to discuss and decide these issues directly.

Whatever people think of Scalia’s political views (uh, philosophies), the consistency of his views is always refreshing.

Freedom of speech, but how free exactly?

2012-09-23

Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights, adopted by the first Congress of the United States in 1789 | National Archives

The last couple of weeks offered ample opportunity for being disgusted. Disgusted with a world that allows agitators at the fringes to dominate the agenda and relish in senseless violence. Disgusted with politicians who try to score cheap political points over the death of their compatriots. And disgusted with leaders willing to sacrifice free speech over the mere threat of violence. | More →

Lies have short legs

2012-09-02  

Marathon runners

We don’t know their times, but we assume these marathon runners will report them truthfully. After all, lies have short legs, as the German saying goes (couldn’t resist the pun). | Microsoft

One of the reasons why we enjoy building up our heroes is the loud thud they make when they topple from their pedestal. A preferred method of toppling is to catch them in a lie. | More →

A hero in the making

2012-08-18

Paul Ryan

This week’s media hyperventilation over the nomination of Paul Ryan for vice president was a reminder what the election is all about: It’s not about political direction, but about casting the heroes for the next four years of political drama. | More →

Only in America: Chick-a-Debate

2012-08-01

Chicken in Missoula, Montana

How do you explain the Chick-fil-A row to someone outside the United States? Most people would assume that a public uproar involving chicken and sex must be about a case of bestiality or worse. They would be rather puzzled by the tenuous link between chicken consumption and a political issue that they may find far from earth-shattering. | More →