Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution

Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 0316373729

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


For the first time ever, a retired Supreme Court Justice offers a manifesto on how the Constitution needs to change.

By the time of his retirement in June 2010, John Paul Stevens had become the second longest serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court. Now he draws upon his more than three decades on the Court, during which he was involved with many of the defining decisions of the modern era, to offer a book like none other. SIX AMENDMENTS is an absolutely unprecedented call to arms, detailing six specific ways in which the Constitution should be amended in order to protect our democracy and the safety and wellbeing of American citizens.

Written with the same precision and elegance that made Stevens's own Court opinions legendary for their clarity as well as logic, SIX AMENDMENTS is a remarkable work, both because of its unprecedented nature and, in an age of partisan ferocity, its inarguable common sense.

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the state of Michigan does not have the death penalty. As David Garland explains in his book Peculiar Institution, in 1846 the state legislature adopted a statute abolishing capital punishment for any crime other than treason. The sponsors of the legislation were concerned about the “fallibility” of capital punishment. As Professor Garland explains, an innocent man had recently been executed in Canada, and the state senator who introduced the bill had apparently presided over the execution of an

obligations that the former colonies assumed in their dealings with one another. Despite the fact that the Constitution was far “more perfect” than its predecessor, important imperfections in its text were the product of compromises that were certain to require that changes be made in the future. Differing interests of large states and smaller states, as one example, and of slave states and free states, as another, required that the framers make significant concessions to secure agreement. Best

combatting street gangs. Most rural areas do not.4 In response to the massacre of grammar school students at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, some legislators have advocated stringent controls on the sale of assault weapons and more complete background checks on purchasers of firearms. It is important to note that nothing in either the Heller or the McDonald opinion poses any obstacle to the adoption of such preventive measures. First, the Court did not overrule Miller.

an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. 3 The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the

While the debates between the majority and the four dissenters over those three matters occupy more than seventy pages in the official reports of the Court’s decisions, a few words here will identify the nature of that debate. The earliest historical events relevant to the Printz case were laws enacted by Congress in the 1790s; they required state judges to perform duties related to the registration of aliens, the naturalization of new citizens, and the arbitration of disputes about the

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