Golden Nuggets from U. S. History

The Blue Quill Series
Concord Learning Systems

Constitutional Amendments: Never ratified

After ratification of the Constitution in 1788, Congress approved twelve Articles of Amendment which were sent to the states ratification. By 1791 the states had approved numbers 3 through 12 which became Amendments, I through X, popularly called the Bill of Rights. In 1992, (yep, 1992: that's not a typo) proposed Article #2 was ratified to become Amendment XXVII. Proposal #1, has never been ratified (but like #2 was proposed in 1789), is still lying out there and could be ratified if the states decide to do so. However, proposal #1 is about apportionment for representation in the House and the subject was covered later by another amendment so, it is not likely that #1 will ever be ratified.

Amendment XXVII, ratified in 1992 (201 years late), limits the effective date of congressional pay raises to the next Congress AFTER the one which voted for the pay raise. That would seem to plug a gaping hole in the Constitution... but it didn't. Those worms didn't miss a beat. They enacted a law which provides a cost-of-living adjustment, a COLA. Now they automatically get raises based on inflation, but inflation for Congress is different than inflation for other folks. For example, Social Security provides about 1.0 to 1.9 percent (1997-2000.) Congress gets 3.0 to 5.0 percent. The congressional COLA law was passed in the wee hours of the morning and naturally the Republicans blame the Democrats, the Democrats blame the Republicans, and the press is much too busy with such important matters as Monica to publish how members voted or to point out that Representatives and Senators connived to circumvent the law.

Beginning in 1919, with the proposal which became amendment XVIII (prohibition of alcohol), Congress began to include a time limit of 7 years for ratification. This seems reasonable to most people but, naturally, somebody brought a lawsuit over the limitation. The Supreme Court quickly issued a ruling that they didn't have a dog in that fight ("purely political question," it declared), so it is now customary to have such a limit. Nonsense! The Constitution doesn't give Congress the power to place a time limit on a proposed Article of Amendment. "Time limits" is just another example of congressional over-reaching. If it's such a good idea, change the Constitution to permit it.

There is more than one way to change the Constitution. Here are the ways it can be done:

Article. V.
"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; ..."

Since the Constitution was adopted, there have been 27 amendments added and 6 which have NOT been ratified. Including the apportionment proposal above, the following have been offered but not ratified:

  • 1789 - Re-apportionment. Still open for ratification. [Defines a number limit of constituents for Representatives, i.e., 30,000; 40,000; 50,000; etc.]

  • 1800 - Titles of Nobility. Still open. [If anyone accepts a title, i.e., King, Duke, Baron, Earl, etc., citizenship is forfeited. This proposal was printed by the government as part of the Constitution (as though it had been ratified) from the time it was proposed until about 1850 when the error was discovered. It has not been ratified.]

  • 1861 - Abolition of slavery. Still open. [Same thing achieved by Amendment XIII in 1865.]

  • 1926 - Child Labor. Still open. [Gives Congress the power to regulate child labor. It DID NOT get ratified but Congress never lets technicalities stand in its way. It regulates child labor anyway, and the Supreme Court, which has seldom been hampered by the WORDS of the Constitution, has made numerous rulings on the subject without considering the legality of the underlying question.]

  • 1971 - Equal Rights - Women (ERA). Expired after one extension. [All 12 women who supported this abomination are still upset. Here is the whole proposal: "Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." Can't you just see a woman, 8 months pregnant, running across a battlefield in full field pack? How about the woman who demands to play in the National Football League? Rework the words ladies, and it will sail right through. But the real question is, who needs it? Equality is already guaranteed, but without the "MUST DO IT" implications. If enforcement of existing law is the problem, go after that.]

  • 1978 - District of Columbia - To Vote Like States. Expired after 7 years. [This proposal (often called the Jesse Jackson amendment) was intended to add two PERMANENT Democrats to the Senate and one PERMANENT Democrat to the House. If this plan had worked the idea was to do the same thing with Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. That would have added ten PERMANENT Democrats in the Senate and five PERMANENT Democrats in the House. We oppose the addition of any new states as long as California remains a single state.

Of course, the whole subject of amendments is silly. No one pays any attention anyway. Congress does whatever it wishes and the Supreme Court does whatever it wishes. Even the subject of taxes has been rendered moot. To raise money, the states' Attorneys General now join with the U.S. Department of Justice to sue industry for whatever they can extract (tobacco was the test case to develop the procedures, now comes guns, next will come automobiles, then tires, fertilizer companies, chemicals, housing and furniture for using wood, etc.). Congress likes this system better than the "pass a law" routine because now they get the money and everybody blames the lawyers. The lawyers don't mind because they are not elected anyway. Companies now flee the U.S., placing heavier burdens on those that stay and this will become a vicious cycle. That's the price of government without rules; a country with a living Constitution. . . changing with the wind.

The notion of a living constitution is the most evil of all ideas... a euphemism for lawlessness. This is the verbiage embraced by those (lawyers, historians, politicians, and judges) who wish to take advantage of others. No fair minded person could ever endorse such blathering nonsense. The founders intended to produce a static document... why else provide a mechanism for change?

Applying today's "principles" of government, MOST of the 17 Amendments beyond the Bill of Rights are totally unnecessary. Except for freedom for slaves and voting AGES, all of the rest are useless. If the XVI (income tax) did not already exist, it would still be permitted by the Supreme Court without review (under the "commerce clause.") If the XVII (direct election of Senators) did not exist, Congress would force the states to modify their election procedures to do it anyway and the Supreme court would declare it a political question.

A lasting constitution MUST be ABSOLUTE. The law of the land. No exceptions, even when it hurts.

That's what the Founding Fathers had in mind when the U.S. Constitution was written. To a person, the founders lamented the lousy document they had put together, but to a man they understood the absolute necessity of such STANDARDS: A set of rules which were fair because they applied to all -- equally. The great majority of the founders despised two things more than anything else:

First, they HATED taxes of any kind, BUT they understood that taxes were necessary. They were NOT proud of paying taxes... They ABHORRED the necessity.

Second, and foremost, ALMOST ALL of the founders were afraid of a federal government. The debates in Philadelphia lasted from May til the middle of September; less than four months. More than three months of that time was consumed crafting and debating clauses to LIMIT the power of the federal government. It was easy to decide what the federal government should do... It was far more difficult to define limitations. Finally, it was decided that if a power was not GRANTED, then the federal government could NOT do it. Exception clauses were agreed to for handling emergencies.

The fruit of their labor worked well for more than 150 years only to be kissed off by an apathetic public more interested in "MINE" than "OURS."

The rich want more, so do the poor -- blacks want more, so do whites -- Hispanics want more, so do Asians -- women want more, so do men -- unions want more, so do employers -- the elderly want more, so do the young -- Jews want more, so do Christians -- Catholics want more, so do Muslims -- and so it goes. This is great stuff for politicians who take pleasure pitting one group against the other and the public loves it. How many more ways can we slice the pie?

"OURS" is without representation.

Philosophos Historia

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