5 Potential Constitutional Amendments In Congress Now
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by Causes | 10.20.17
It’s been 25 years since the the U.S. Constitution was last amended, when the ratification of the 27th Amendment forbid members of Congress from giving themselves a pay raise that takes effect before the start of the next terms for members of the House of Representatives.
Amending the Constitution is a tough task politically that requires the approval of two-thirds of both chambers of Congress, plus ratification by three-fourths (or 38) state legislatures. However, the lack of recent amendments hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of lawmakers who want to give the Constitution a makeover. Here’s a look at five proposed amendments in Congress now:
Sen. Steve Daine’s (R-MT) proposed amendment would give Congress the authority to prohibit the desecration of the American flag. It would effectively reverse the decision of the Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson which held that flag burning is protected speech under the First Amendment.
Rep. Al Green’s (D-TX) proposed amendment would prohibit the president from issuing a self-pardon related to a crime they’d committed. The Constitution’s only explicit restriction on a president’s pardon power prevents it from being using by a president to absolve himself of impeachment. The Supreme Court has never weighed in on the constitutionality of a president pardoning himself.
Rep. Martha Roby’s (R-AL) proposed amendment would require that the federal budget be balanced each year, so that spending couldn’t exceed revenue. It would also cap federal spending at an amount equal to 20 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the U.S> economy. The balanced budget requirement and spending cap could be waived during a time of declared war or with the approval of three-fifths of the Senate and two-thirds of the House.
Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) proposed amendment would guarantee certain parental rights, including the right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children. The right to direct their child’s education would include the parent’s right to choose public, private, religious, or home schooling and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one’s child. No treaty or source of international law could supersede the parental rights guaranteed by the amendment, and those rights couldn’t be abridged on account of disability or interpreted as applying to a parental action that’d end life.
Sen. Ben Cardin’s (D-MD) proposed amendment would eliminate the deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment — a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights for all regardless of their sex.
The ERA was passed by Congress in 1972 and provided states a seven-year time limit to ratify the amendment, which was then extended to 1982 after six years had elapsed. Once the 1982 deadline arrived, the ERA had been ratified by 35 states — three short of the requirement. Following its failure to achieve ratification before the 1982 deadline, the ERA was reintroduced in Congress by those who believed the ratification process would have to begin anew.
However, there are some — including the sponsor of this legislation — who believe that to be unnecessary. Time limits on constitutional amendments hadn’t been utilized prior to the 18th Amendment, so ratification time limits are a self-imposed constraint rather than a constitutional requirement. Case in point, the 27th Amendment wasn’t ratified until nearly 203 years after Congress passed it and it sent it to the states!
Tell your reps what you think of these potential constitutional amendments using the Take Action button and share your thoughts in the comments below.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: alancrosthwaite / iStock)
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