“Our Imbecilic Constitution”

In the late 18th century debate over ratification of the new U.S. Constitution, the authors of “The Federalist Papers” mocked the “imbecility” of the weak central government created by the Articles of Confederation.

Now in the early 21st century we the People of the U.S. need to recognize that our federal Constitution is “imbecilic.” This is the contention of Sanford Levinson, Professor of Law and Government at the University of Texas, Austin, in a post entitled “Our Imbecilic Constitution” that was published in the May 29th issue of the New York Times.

Levinson argues that the U.S. Constitution plays a major role in generating the current dysfunctional U.S. governmental system. He begins his critique “with the Senate and its assignment of equal voting power to California and Wyoming; Vermont and Texas; New York and North Dakota. Consider that, although a majority of Americans since World War II have registered opposition to the Electoral College, we will participate this year in yet another election that ‘battleground states’ will dominate while the three largest states will be largely ignored.”

Levinson also recommends making it easier to amend the U.S. Constitution. This could include a debate on allowing amendments by voters at the ballot box.

Other possible topics for debate, he says, include (a) allowing a newly elected president to appoint 50 members of the House of Representatives and 10 to the Senate; (b) requiring a super-majority (say seven of nine) of the Supreme Court Justices to invalidate national legislation; and (c) changing the way in which federal judges are selected.

This article strikes some of the same criticisms of the U.S. Constitution as one of my posts.