2023-10-12 Official Campaign Website:
We have not made a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution since 1971. (Note: see my blog post on why the 27th Amendment doesn’t count.)
Most Americans are willing to consider many of these ideas. Per Article V, it only takes 2/3 (66%) of both houses of Congress to begin the amendment process. While some are controversial and would stimulate passionate, involved debates, the below ideas are good starting points for constitutional amendments.
Amendments are often divided into two types. I’ll add a third to organize this page a little better.
1. The procedural amendments deal with the functions and rules of government, like the setting of term limits or who can vote. They tend to be less controversial, and are placed first for that reason.
2. The political (or ethical/moral amendments) rule on what we believe to be right and wrong, permitted or prohibited in our society. These are usually far more controversial, like abortion, euthanasia, surveillance, or gun rights.
3. Cultural conversations.
1. Procedural Amendments:
- Political Amendments:
- Presidential Restrictions:
- Age Maximum
- No Presidential Families
- Senators excluded from Presidency (must resign and/or waiting period)
- Remove Birth Requirement (increase required years of citizenship to 2-3 decades)
- States in Union: Maximum Number
- Mandatory Sunset Provisions / Limit on Length of Laws
- End Clock Changes (Daylight Saving Time)
2. Political Amendments:
- Right to weaponry (revision to the 2nd Amendment)
- Balanced Budget
- Corporate Personhood
- Equal Rights Amendment
- Marriage — Harder to Enter, Harder to Exit
- Reparations (study/discussion in Congress)
- [Electronic] Search & Surveillance (4th Amendment revision)
- Voting Age / Younger Civil Rights “Package”
3. Other Conversations (some Controversial)
- Ranked Choice Voting
- Holidays (& our Calendar)
- Memorial Services
- Ending Genital Mutilation
- Executive Orders
- Metric System
- Bonus: Shirtless Health Advice (in jest)
Procedural / Legal Amendments
Congressional Term Limits
This is the most obvious amendment: term limits for Congress, especially Senators. That most of us would support this is as undeniable as that most politicians would reject limiting their career potential. The only debate is the number of terms/years we’d agree on limiting terms to. The Constitution set term lengths at 2 years for the U.S. House and 6 years for the U.S. Senate. If a maximum of 12 years was our goal, then:
No member of Congress may serve more than twelve total years maximum, or two terms in the Senate or six tersm in the House, or three subsequent terms in either chamber. Additionally, no current members of Congress are eligible for the Presidency, and former members of Congress must wait ten years to be eligible.
We still have to think hard about if that’s the right approach: is twelve (or any number) of years really the maximum we want to set? Is six terms too many for U.S. House, or two too few for Senate? Whatever our answers, this remains one of the most universally supported ideas for a Constitutional Amendment.
The latter restriction forces serving members of Congress to focus on their service, rather than neglecting their existing duties and cannibalizing their fame to fight each other for the Presidency. This transitions us towards the next amendment idea.
No Presidential Families
Our “founding fathers” would be disappointed in career politicians and aghast at presidential families. If term limits would prevent career politicians, a constitutional amendment could easily solve the latter problem. Here is an example:
Only one person per family shall ever serve as President. "Family" may include parents, spouses, siblings, children, and other members as defined by the Congress and the Courts.
We should also consider:
- Adding a maximum Presidential age (perhaps 75 years old?),
- Excluding sitting Senators from campaigning for the Presidency (resignation or a “waiting period” required), which would prevent the Senate being used as a career “stepping stone” for the Presidency,
- Adding the Presidential ‘Partner’ to the line of succession (somewhere), such that we take more seriously the familial/personal relationship of Presidnetial candidates, and
- Removing the U.S. birth requirement (but changing the U.S. residency requirement to 2+ decades).
I think most of us would agree that we should have some female Presidents. When? How? How many? Should we force it? What if we’re deciding between two absolutely equal candidates (never happens in practice), should we prioritize the female candidate because the position hasn’t had enough female representation?
One option is to simply mandate that the next number of Presidents be female. Then only females can campaign, and we don’t waste our time with males in the running. If we’re open to this route, the only decision is how many terms to limit to females: between one and forty-six. Biden is the 46th male President, so that’s the extreme.
What if we were incredibly conservative, and mandated only two single Presidential elections be with women? That guarantees at least one term of female President, between 1 and 2 different women. Seems like a fair start before men are allowed to campaign again.
The subsequent two (2) Presidential elections shall be limited to females; it is recommended that candidates also choose female Vice Presidential running-mates.
One fair criticism is that this is “eqality of outcome,” not necessarily “equality of opportunity.”
Sure. I get it. But why don’t we as men just step aside — and prove we are serious in supporting female leadership — by stepping aside for a minimum of one or two national elections, after which we can fairly go back to men-and-women campaigning?
Is the better option to really continue on the same path, with fewer women campaigning than is normal, because they don’t believe it possible, and millions (maybe tens of millions!) of men thinking (erronously) that women can’t genuinely make a good national leader? I think the better option is just for all of us men to step aside for at least one election!
8 Supreme Court Justices
The Supreme Court was never designed or intended to “break” ties or have the power it does today. I have the greatest respect for this branch of the federal government, because it is the best of the three led and influenced by facts, science, and truth. As such, and as the other two branches have weakened, the Supreme Court has “picked up the slack,” and has become the branch that actually gets things done. But a constitutional amendment could shift power back towards where it belongs — in the hands of the people, through the legislative branch:
The Supreme Court shall, upon the next justice's death or resignation, be reduced to 8 members and shall remain an even number of justices. In the event of a tie decision, the Court may recommend new legislation to Congress. Congress shall have a maximum period of one year to formally pass further legislation on the issue, after which the President may take executive action to break the Supreme Court's tie decision until Congress' legislative clarification.
Sunset Provisions Required
A “Sunset” provision means, legally, that a law will cease to be effective after a certain date (unless renewed). Like a constitutional amendment requiring some measure of brevity of new amendments, acts, and lower laws, a sunset amendment would require all future Acts of congress to ‘sunset’ after some amount of time, whether a year or a century.
While a sunset provision would create more work for future Congresses to renew desired laws, it also forces them to update older laws to modern times, while eliminating the work required to remove out-of-date laws still needlessly “on the books.” Such a mandatory amendment is a debateable idea, but what we gain is worth the extra legal and mental work.
Number of States in the Union
Congress is not a decisive body of lawmakers. It is a slow moving gaggle without direction or a system of prioritization, and it has lost a sense of compromise for the common good. Worse, Congress is too many people. Our federal vs. state governments should allow for individual state experimentation with law and policy, whereby the best ideas are the most effective, adopted by other states, and eventually, the federal government. Yet with such an excess (fifty) of states, this rarely happens. North American states should likely combine to between 10-20 states, and the extra number is a good “buffer” in case other nation-states on Earth wish to petition the United States to join the Union. This latter scenario is likely to happen later this century, especially if we can restore our economic and leadership supremacy.
We should begin combining state governments into larger, more powerful states if we are to survive the century as a United group of States, and simultaneously rely on and embolden local government more than these new, larger states.
The number of States in the Union shall not exceed twenty-five, nor senators fifty.
If we are to survive the century, we may eventually also either add a third house of Congress, or (the better idea, in my opinion) convert the House of Representatives to a system of full digital representation of citizens, rather than personal representation. For example, each million people might digitally “vote” on propositions and laws, using web- or mobile-based systems, and simple majority votes would form a single yes/no vote for that “House representative.” Human Senators would remain, and as fewer senators would represent fewer states, would have the individual power they now lack.
End Clock Changing (Daylight Saving Time)
This probably made sense when we started it. It is unnecessary and foolish now. We came very close in 2022 to (finally!) eliminating clock changing. Maybe in 2024…
By the way… what if we make a mistake choosing to make our clocks permanently an hour this way or that? Easy correction: we all complain, tell Congress… and change our clocks one final time! Ending clock changes is completely reversible… if we choose winter time and summer time was really the right move, we can still change, and vice-versa! And if the whole idea was a terrible decision, and we were really better off changing clocks twice each year, we can easily go back to doing it again!
Political / Moral / Ethical Amendments
Less an “amendment” at the moment, more of a conversation. I’m open to ideas! Wikipedia has an article on this; scroll down to the U.S. section (linked)
Right to Weaponry (revision to the 2nd Amendment)
Some have told me this isn’t reasonable; that Republicans would never get on board with any such limitations. I think that’s because many incorrectly believe that the original Amendment itself was about personal protection from crime and personal right to overthrow the government… that’s not quite true. They conveniently buy into the dogma of the modified 2nd Amendment text by the NRA… which conveniently leaves out the first few words — about the militia!
Here’s an idea:
The 2nd Amendment is hereby revoked. Congress shall have the power to allow and prohibit specific weapons; set reasonable limits regarding age, mental health, numbers of weapons; and to ignore or require involvement in state militias. Because intrastate travel with firearms is so trivial, the rights of states on this matter are hereby limited; however, additional permissions and exclusions for active and engaged hunters and state militia may be defined by state legislatures.
Most educated conservatives — and those who are willing to open their minds — would be open to the obvious fact: we live in a different world today than our founders did with respect to weapons. There is no way even the craziest conservative/libertarian weapon stockpiler is going to overthrow even their State National Guard… let alone the entire U.S. military, on a lazy Christmas day, armed with nothing but a small company of tanks and drones and helicopters! While there are state militias in some regions, I don’t know if any qualify as “well-regulated.”
I have hope that as a campaign and national discussion progressed, enough conservatives would get onboard. And sadly, end every shooting — school or otherwise — only helps the process. That is a depressing, disgusting thought. But it’s true. And yes: shootings are a mental health crisis as well. But rewriting the 2nd amendment for the modern world is just as important as mental health.
Marriage — Harder to Enter, Harder to Exit
Most of us have heard this said before: “marriage should be harder to get into, and harder to get out of.” But how to word that into an amendment?
This one is a very rough brainstormed idea:
Entering marriage, fiancees must take 1-year of weekly marriage counseling by professional councelor. States may define "professional" to include volunteers or religious leaders or others.
To exit marriage in cases of violence, abuse, threats thereof, or other differences, either person may immediately initiate a minimum 1-year "trial separation" period. This 1-year trial separation period should be initiated by contacting with the appropriate state authorities (ideally law enforcement). This 1-year period should include regular counseling, varying by situation and state; moreover, both spouses and appropriate government agencies should closely track communication, finances, and parenting time, if applicable. Records should be kept of attendance to weddings, and these attendees notified if the couple initiates a 1-year trial period.
Citizens may only marry once; after a divorce, no subsequent marriages are allowed, unless it is a remarriage to the original person(s*).
*On a related note: polygamy is more prominent than managamy both geographicaly (worldwide vs. the U.S.) and temporally (throughout human history). Thus, polygamy is something reasonable Americans are really going to have to debate and come to grips with as a society!
No Amendment ideas here… we’re years or generations away from being ready for that!
That article was how I first heard about HR 40, which seeks only to study reparations.
From the essay:
…Who will be paid? How much will they be paid? Who will pay? But if the practicalities, not the justice, of reparations are the true sticking point, there has for some time been the beginnings of a solution. For the past 25 years, [Democratic] Congressman John Conyers Jr., who represents the Detroit area, has marked every session of Congress by introducing a bill calling for a congressional study of slavery and its lingering effects as well as recommendations for ‘appropriate remedies.
A country curious about how reparations might actually work has an easy solution in Conyers’s bill, now called HR 40, the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. We would support this bill, submit the question to study, and then assess the possible solutions.
Who would pay? Who would be paid? How much might they get, and over how many years? How to prevent against fraud, how to implement, how to measure success? The idea, again, is only to study reparations in Congress. Only to discuss it in Congress.
Our nation has done terrible things to many ethic groups. I’m from Hawaii, and we learned this well growing up. But none comapres to the multi-generational harm done to the many African peoples displaced from their continent and then, over many more generations, sold, traded, broken, tortured, and at every turn disconnected from their history; and then repeatedly disadvantaged by subsequent generations and policies.
As we approach a quarter-milennia, is the United States of America mature engouh as a nation to formally discuss the concept of reparations, or are we not? That’s really the only question here: are we mature enough to stop laughing at this idea?
I’m skeptical we are mature enough. Time will tell.
Voting Age -or- ‘Civil Rights Package’ at Age 14-18
The voting age should be lowered.
The voting age shall hereby be lowered to sixteen (16) years.
Personally, I believe most teenagers will remain ambivalent and not vote, as is their right. Still, those educated, passionate teenagers who now deserve the right to vote cannot now do so. Most of the country might criticize this idea, pointing to the immaturity of youth, which seems valid at first consideration. But we are likely even more immature much further into our twenties than ever before, yet we retain the right to vote once we pass the eighteen-year age threshold. At least with a lowered voting age . If we were allowed to vote at 14+, I suspect there might be a lot of “noise” on “social” media and internet-based polls which would never materialize, because teens failed to actually take advantage of their new ability to vote.
The better idea, in my opinion, is to make a civil rights “package” when a teenager is mature enough to earn the rights, which cannot ever after be repealed. Such rights would include:
- Right to vote in all elections
- Right to consume and purchase alcohol and other legal drugs, as valid under existing laws for adults 21+
- Right to sexual freedom
- Right to full adulthood, work, and manage one’s financial and legal identity
The difficult debate would center on how to decide when to give this rights “package” to the teen. By law it would be granted to all teenagers at 18 years old as a last resort. But the purpose of the law would be to allow parents or other caretakers who personally know each teenager to grant the above rights to the teen when legitimately earned. In hindsight, most of us would likely say that we gained the “maturity” for this-or-that aspect of adulthood at various ages, probably extending well into our 20s or even 30s. But forcing teens, parents, and caretakers to engage on these issues — When am I an adult? When am I responsible enough to do this or that? — would prove a massive national benefit. It would surely challenge us, but those challenges would result in significant cultural growth.
Note: These ideas may or may not rise to the level of constitutional Amendment, but I believe they warrant national discussions and high-level laws, if not amendments.
We should all garden.
What can unite newborns, children, youth, middle-aged, and seniors? Gardening.
What can unite all the nutties on the political spectrum? Gardens.
What can unite the diverse geographies of the country, each with their own soil and temperatures and ecosystems and climate? The national act of gardening.
What can unite the most isolated rural areas, the suburbs, and the highest most urban skyscrapers? Gardens for all.
2. Ranked Choice Voting.
Excellent idea, probably warrants an amendment.
However, we probably do need to see more testing, implementation, and “ironing out the kinks” at smaller elections before a national implementation.
What days should we consider too “holy” to work?
I don’t believe we need an amendment on holidays.
But we do need to have a conversation about what holy-days are important to us, and when they are.
For example: I’m a veteran — an obviously very alive, living veteran! — and veteran’s day is for me.
Did you know there’s also a female veteran’s day, celebrated on the day the US Army allowed women in its ranks, in a totally different month?
And do you know the difference between that and Memorial Day? Do NOT say “thank you for your service” to us on Memorial Day, please! Memorial Day is for military servicemembers who died in combat or while serving. This happened to some in Iraq and Afghanishan, of course, but was far more common in the Civil and World Wars. On Memorial Day, say a prayer, visit a nearby National / State cemetary… but do not thank a veteran as if it were veteran’s day. Ask if we know anyone who died in combat, or how you might “celebrate” Memorial Day (they’ll probably have a recommendation)
So just on the confusion with those handful of military-related holidays… can we scrap the whole current implementation and go back to the drawing board, reviewing our holy-days from 1 to 365.25 through the whole year? That’s probably the best approach, and something that should be done at least once a century.
4. Pets — TODO
Pets should probably have some kind of rights or protection (the right to not be subjected to abuse and/or neglect…)
5. Memorial Services* for the Deceased
Disclaimer: For some people, this is a controversial, sensitive topic. It is extremely close to my heart. Proceed with caution.
Sometimes there are terrible, surprise, tragic deaths: deaths far too difficult for families to hold ceremonies within weeks — or even months. Still, for the deceased or for the living, these services are a necessary part of our cultures, our religions, our psyche, and our humanity.
I know of no religion in the world that would find it permissible to wait months — if not years or longer — to hold a service. Not holding one, to me, is the ultimate form of disrepect for the deceased.
Unfortunately, as our society becomes increasingly resistant to uncomfortable emotions, some are ignoring these services. But for family and friends, at least, they must be held.
Memorial Services* must be held within 1-year of the death of any person 1-year or older. States shall have the power to legislate details. (*Alternative names: funeral, celebration of life, commoration service, remembrance, wake, tribute, and other synonyms.)
6. Ending Genital Mutilation
This is very controversial, because tens of millions of people still do this and believe in it. In my opinion, it is disgustingly barbaric.
7. Executive Orders
When I started to look this up, it’s not as bad as I thought (for example do an image search for “executive orders by year”). Presidents in the Roosevelt>Taft>Wilson>Harding>Coolidge>Hoover>Roosevelt years wrote several times more orders than even Obama>Trump>Biden have. Still, are Presidents writing too many? And if they are, is it a bad thing? (We could argue it is because of the inaction of Congress that our Presidents much take such action).
Also, modern Presidents are revoking more orders of their predecessor, usually from the opposite party.
Maybe this is a problem, maybe it is not. It’s worth a conversation.
We’ve tried this, I know.
Unlike much on this page, and much up for national debate, the metric system is demonstrably, objectively better.
Unfortunately, it’s a hellofa lot of work to transition. And it’s not my fight; there are bigger fish to fry, bigger battles to fight. But it warrants a discussion.
When shall we barbaric Americans cease wiping our asses with dry paper and start cleaning our dirtiest parts with a more hygenic approach? The same approach — water! — we use to clean our bodies, our dishes, or anywhere else we really want to clean?
It is great to see sales of bidets rising! Hopefully this indicates a cultural change. But there are many more reasons to discuss our bathroom use — and poop overall — as all of Bill Gates’ efforts will tell you!
I believe we need to work together to write an Amendment on abortion. This will be more difficult than writing the Constitution itself; more contentious, more controversial, but it needs to be done.
Nothing divides us more and eats at our soul. And until we attempt this — even if we fail to agree on one — we can never, as Biden falsely said he’d try to do, “restore the soul of our nation.”
Bonus: Shirtless Health Advice
Note: This is a joke.
I’ve heard about the “shirtless doctor” joke several times over the past few years. “If you’re giving me advice about what’s wrong with my body, shouldn’t you look at least okay naked or without a shirt?” Obviously individual doctors could simply post a shirt-less or scantily-clad exercise photo and require that patients ignore the request during annual checkups. But most doctors probably won’t take a photo of themselves with their shirts off… because they aren’t very healthy!
The few doctors who are healthy? Their patients already know it!
Here’s an example:
Note: As part of a hypothetical platform for a Presidential campaign, this page serves as one of the two main campaign platform webpages, with ideas and examples for constitutional amendments. For the other pages, see www.johnfial.com/campaign/ .
- [2023 September: Modified abortion.]
- [2023 July: Expanded modified 2nd amendment idea; added Balanced Budget links (but no significant thoughts).]
- [2023 June:
- Moved some ideas to “Conversations” section.
- Added female presidents idea — I mistakenly thought I’d already added this many months ago when I first thought of it. Edited abortion description (but not amendment idea).
- July: Added executive orders. Added Gardens. Added bidets.]
- [2022-12-23 Added idea “Marriage — Harder to Enter, Harder to Exit“]
- [2022-Dec: Added idea “Memorial Services* for the Deceased“]
- [2022 XX: 2nd Amendment revision idea]
- [Jul 2019: Minor edits, added sunset idea, (to-do: add legal length limit,
marriage, digital house of representatives, digital voting, balanced budget, gerrymandering, Corporate Personhood).]
- [Jan 2019: Minor revisions; added voting age idea.]
- [13 October 2018: Added congressional term limits.]
- [21 July: Added # states in the union, second part of abortion.]
- [July: 7th: Added abortion draft 1, supreme court draft 1.]
- [16 June: Added shirtless doctor law idea.]
- [4 Apr: Named section 1, edited.]
- [20 March 2017: Created.]