Thomas Jefferson’s Vision: New Constitution Proposal

Introduction

A quote by Thomas Jefferson, in which he states that “in the course of time, the imperfections of a written Constitution will become apparent” (The University of Virginia) can be seen contradictory with the fact the Constitution was amended only 17 times in roughly 200 years (Petri and Azarcon 60). With Jefferson’s statement that the Constitution should reflect the ideals of people of that time, it can be argued that with the difficulty in amending the Constitution, such reflection might a time longer than these ideals change. Carrying on the statement that the Constitution should accommodate changes in society to remain suitable for the nation, this paper proposes a new Constitution which should address the issues faced by the nation today. Accordingly, the present paper provides an outline of the new Constitution.

The Role of the Government

The government in a democratic state is to rule through the political majority elected by the people and protecting the rights of the political minority (Petri and Azarcon 9). Therefore, the role of the government shall be in serving the people through establishing justice, providing national defense, both foreign and domestic, and promoting the general welfare, equally protecting the rights and the liberties of the citizens and the residents of the United States at all time, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and/or sexual orientation.

The Structure of the Government

The government shall be divided between three branches legislative, executive, and judicial. The lawmaking, law-enforcing, and law-interpreting functions of the government should be separated into both powers and institutions (Janda, Berry, and Goldman 69). The President of the United States shall be charged with the task of monitoring faithful execution of the law. No powers shall be transferred from one branch to another, other than cases established within the present Constitution. In no case shall the President have the right to bypass the Constitution’s separation of power (Petri and Azarcon 31). Additionally, in no case shall the president be granted any unilateral powers which allow him/her to exercise to bypass the powers of government branches, without being “checked” in the current system of checks and balances (Ringold).

Federalism

Every state shall have a government sovereign within its sphere of influence. Considering the cases in which the power of the states might be used to block state legislation. The sovereignty and the powers are given to each state shall have several conditions, outlined in the following sections:

  • Section 1. The powers of incumbency in each state shall be limited, where “[r]etirement benefits must be restricted, state-financed incumbent staff and support services limited, and limitations placed upon the number of terms which may be served” (California Constitution).
  • Section 2. No state legislation shall be passed which eliminates the restrictions outlined in Section 1 of the present article.
  • Section 3. Full cooperation shall be established between federal and state governments in issues of national security. National security concerns shall fall into the category of shared powers between the state and the federal government (Petri and Azarcon 78).
  • Section 4. No state shall have the power to “retard, impede, or in any manner control, the operation of the constitutional laws enacted by Congress to carry into execution the powers vested in the general government” (Petri and Azarcon 82).
  • Section 5. In case of legal difference in an enforceable judgment between different states, the issue is to be held in federal courts. Cases involving civil rights and liberties shall have similar judgment nationwide.

To increase the efficiency and coordination in cases of counter-terrorism initiatives and natural disaster response as well as to establish defined accountability, regional governances should be established in each state. Such regional governments should combine the resources of a state’s cities, counties, and districts, to be able to deal effectively with any emergency issues which have an impact on a state scale (Petri and Azarcon 99).

Civil Rights and Liberties

As a response to several provisions from the USA Patriot Act, which was ruled unconstitutional by various U.S. courts (Petri and Azarcon 461), the following article will outline the status of rights and liberties in the new Constitution.

No civil right or liberty of a citizen or resident of the United States shall be sacrificed for any purposes, including national security (Beckman ). The rights and the liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights shall remain applicable in the new Constitution. Accordingly, the following section shall take effect in the new Constitution:

  • Section1. No law, either state or federal, shall be passed, reducing or limiting the protection of the rights and the liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights.
  • Section 2. The legislature and the judiciary branches of the government can make amendments that expand, clarify, and interpret the protection of civil rights and liberties. Upon new clarification, interpretation, or expansion of the Bill of Rights, it shall be incorporated into the new Constitution (Petri and Azarcon 465).
  • Section 3. No state or federal law should be passed or enforced, which discriminates against anyone on any of the grounds, including race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation (The White House).
  • Section 4. The right of the citizens and residents of the United States shall be explicitly enforced to include implied rights such as the right to privacy (Petri and Azarcon 476). In the light of the aforementioned, the following rights are explicitly mentioned as protected by the Constitution:
    • The right to have an abortion, given no medical restrictions, was found (Vile 162).
    • The privacy of one’s home.
    • The right not to be wiretapped without a warrant (Bardes 135).
  • Section 5. The present section shall reverse parts of the second amendment of the Bill of Rights, which states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” (U.S. Constitution). Taking into consideration the various interpretations of the amendment, the fact where many citizen-formed militias came into conflict with the government, resulted in the given freedom of the states to regulate gun law, the present article prohibits keeping and bearing arms on the territory of the United States. The following exceptions for Section 4 might apply:
    1. The states formed militia, such as the National Guards (Petri and Azarcon 472).
    2. Governmental agencies whose main activities imply carrying a weapon, only during service.
    3. Corporations and organizations whose main activities imply increased security, which should be granted through the due review that should justify bearing a gun.
    4. Licensed security agencies, which the main purpose is protection. A thorough review should be conducted before granting a license to bear a weapon.

A special article shall be included in the constitution which involves governing the freedom of speech. In the light of the recent advancement of internet technologies, which facilitate the distribution and the leak of vital information, the following section shall take effect in the new Constitution. “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or the press, delivered through any type of medium, except for the following cases:

  • Child pornography in any of its forms, which falls into the category of depicting “a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct” (Cohen 3).
  • Defamation, i.e. “the intentional communication of a falsehood about a person, to someone other than that person, that injures the person’s reputation” (Cohen 12)
  • Any information which at the time of its release might cause a threat to national security or put a life of an individual or group of individuals in danger.

The classification of the aforementioned cases should be the responsibility of the Supreme Court. In cases a review of the information is possible before being published, where no threat to life or national security would be found, such information is not subject to the restrictions outlined in the previous article (Tennant).

Conclusion

The present essay followed the statement by Thomas Jefferson that the Constitution should be regularly rewritten to accommodate the changes in society. The essay provided a detailed framework of several articles and sections of the new Constitution, which reflect some of the changes that occurred in society. The Constitutions covered such aspects as the role of the government and the powers of the president, the structure of the government, federalism, and civil rights and liberties.

Works Cited

Bardes, Barbara A. American Government and Politics Today : Georgia Edition. 1st Ed. ed. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.

Beckman, James. Comparative Legal Approaches to Homeland Security and Anti-Terrorism. Homeland Security Series. Aldershot, England ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate Pub., 2007. Print.

California Constitution. “The Constitution of California”. 2010. California Legislative Information. 2010. Web.

Cohen, Henry. “Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment”. 2008. Congressional Research Service. Web.

Janda, Kenneth, Jeffrey M. Berry, and Jerry Goldman. The Challenge of Democracy : Government in America. 9th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.

Petri, Michael C., and Cynthia Azarcon. Democracy and Action. 2nd ed. Dubuque: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2009. Print.

Ringold, James. “Executive Power and the People: Does the President Care What You Think?”. 2010. Honors Scholar Theses. Web.

Tennant, Michael. “Who’s at Fault If Wikileaks Endangers Innocents?”. 2010. The New American. Web.

The University of Virginia. “Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government: Amending the Constitution”. 2001. University of Virginia Library. Web.

The White House. “Civil Rights”. 2010. The White House. Web.

U.S. Constitution. “The Constitution of the United States of America”. 2010. Cornell University Law School. Web.

Vile, John R. A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments. 5th ed. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, 2010. Print.

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