Thursday, August 11, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Constitutional reality

July 11, 2022

We can't seem to decide what the U.S. Constitution is supposed to mean, so maybe we ought write a new one we can all understand.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

I’ve been thinking a lot about constitutions lately. Are they a good thing? Do they mean what they say? Do they say what they mean? Shouldn’t we all be able to understand them so we’re not constantly arguing?

The current Supreme Court, obviously, has decided the U.S. Constitution means a lot of different things than it used to mean for a long time. And, you’ve got to admit, some of those reality changes were from previous reality changes.

So what’s the point of having a constitution if it doesn’t unalterably mean what it says?

Beats me. Maybe what we’re doing is shifting into parallel dimensions in the metaverse. That would explain a lot.

But, as an intellectual exercise, I recommend that all of you draft constitutions that make more sense than the one we have.

I can hear some of you (since I’m psychic) saying the current Constitution makes a lot of sense. But does it?

Do we need two legislative groups to pass laws? Do we need only one president to handle both foreign and domestic policy?

Now consider the states of Utah, Iowa, Nevada, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Idaho, West Virginia, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming.

Go ahead. Consider them.

What do all those 21 states have in common? Yep, they each get two U.S. senators to vote on federal laws.

They also have a combined population that’s less than the population of California — a state that also gets two senators. Please check my math — you’ll be amazed.

Who would devise a system like that?

People who had never heard of California.

Surely no one honestly thinks it was someone’s “original intent” to make people on the West Coast an oppressed minority.

The Constitution, at the very least, ought to be changed to make things fair but that’s not going to happen because the Constitution says most of those states with tiny populations have to go along with any changes.

Is that a bad thing? Minority rule may seem awful now but was it bad when a lot of civil rights started being protected? It can take a while for good things to become popular.

Sigh. Why can’t this be easier to figure out?

Anyway, it’s not supposed to be easy to change a constitution. If it was easy, it would just be a law, not a constitution.

So what should a constitution look like? My recommendation is that it ought to be more of a general national philosophy. Set up some basic government branches — a home executive, a foreign executive, a legislature, a court, and, of course, an official comedy/roaster branch dedicated to keeping all the other branches humble by relentlessly trolling them.

The rest of the constitution should just say something like “all laws must be fair and make sense in a current modern world. Violence is bad and the Earth probably shouldn’t be destroyed.”

That should cover it.

Subscribe to this Column

Want to receive new op-eds directly to your inbox? Subscribe below.