We all know the process by which the US Constitution can be amended and as any ERA supporter on our side or Defense of Marriage supporter on their side can tell you: It ain't easy. Nor should it be.
But aside from a full blown Article V Convention, which is despite being the wet dream of every unhinged AM Radio Host is even more unlikely, the process does need to start in one of the chambers of Congress.
So it is interesting to note that as of close of session yesterday there have been exactly 253 items introduced to the Senate Floor, six of which are formal requests that the Constitution be amended.
Vault the vermillion escutcheon to take a look at what they say, who wrote them and why.
S.J. Res 1: A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States requiring that the Federal budget be balanced.This was introduced on January22nd and is a place holder of the GOP. Senator Mike Lee of Utah has the honor of writing it thereby showing that he, and his party, are once again pushing for this well-worn plank of their party platform. Interesting to note however that despite this being right-wing boilerplate the current number of co-sponsors on this flagship sentiment of fiscal responsibility is: ZERO
S.J. Res 2: A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to limiting the number of terms that a Member of Congress may serve.Introduced on January 23rd by the dapper diapered Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. It limits House Representatives to 3 terms, Senators to 2 terms and only starts "counting" after the Amendment is ratified. Note that these would be TOTAL number of terms over a lifetime, not merely consecutive terms. Joining the erotically swaddled author of this are the eight cosponsors of senators Rand Paul(KY), Kelly Ayotte(NH), Tom Coburn(OK), Ted Cruz(TX), Ron Johnson(WI), Mike Lee(UT), Marco Rubio(FL) and Pat Toomey(PA).
S.J. Res 3: A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to limiting the number of terms that a Member of Congress may serve to 3 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate.Not to be outdone, aside from co-sponsoring David Vitter's amendment, for some reason Rand Paul found it necessary to introduce his own exact same amendment on the exact same day. David Vitter did him the further favor of signing on as the only co-sponsor of this one. I have no idea why they feel the need to have two of these.
But after these platitudes, we finally get to some good ol' fashion party hackery
S.J.Res 4: A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to United States citizenship.Also introduced on January 23rd by David Vitter with Rand Paul as a cosponsor right out of the gate, this amendment would curtail the 14th Amendment specifying that a person born in the US shall NOT be a citizen unless: at the time of birth one of the parents was a citizen, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence or an alien in active service of the military; otherwise that child must go through the naturalization process in according to existing laws.
Yes, thats right: The Anchor Baby Amendment!! I think people should bring this up to the GOP when they want to talk about their newfound compassion and reason on the Immigration issue.
S.J. Res 5: A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to authorizing regulation of contributions to candidates for State public office and Federal office by corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organization, and expenditures by such entities and labor organizations in support of, or opposition to such candidates.And here we have the only proposed amendment from the Democratic party. Introduced on January 28th by Max Baucus(MT) and cosponsored by Jon Tester(MT) this bill would explicitly give Congress the authority it would need to override Citizens United. It does not lay out any specific campign finance regulations or provisions but merely state that Congress has the authority to regulate "corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organizations" for their direct contributions as well as the money spent in support or opposition to candidates for (and this is important) BOTH FEDERAL AND STATE LEVEL OFFICE. Fed law regulating state-level campaigns? That will be a tough road to hoe.
S.J. Res 6: A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States which requires (except during time of war and subject to suspension by Congress) that the total amount of money expended by the United States during any fiscal year not exceed the amount of certain revenue received by the United States during such fiscal year and not exceed 20 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States during the previous calendar year.Introduced by Senator Richard Shelby(AL) this seems like the most useless and misguided attempt to write specific law into the governing document. There should NEVER be an Amendment that is exempted during "time of war and subject to suspension by Congress". Time of war, as we've seen over the past decades is a fungible term and since when in the hell is Congress allowed to step in with a majority vote and decide when a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT should or should not apply? That is not how this is supposed to work. Despite John Boozman(AR) fervent cosponsorship, this amendment will (and should) go absolutely nowhere.
10:19 AM PT: Whoa... rescue list? I step away for a second, and whaddya know? Just to clarify, I fully realize that these Amendments will go no where. They have all been refereed to Leahy's Judiciary committee and will rot there indefinitely. The point is that these are the kind of things that will be used on the campaign trail and speeches to say things like "I personally proposed an Amendment to do such and such" so I think they are relevant to point out the true priorities of the individual senators and the parties in general. The fact that every GOP shill likes to drone on about Balance budgets and that amendment has ZERO co-sponsors or that the GOP is putting a new face on their Immigration position, yet trying to re-write the 14th Amendment to address "Anchor Babies"is telling.
Anyway, I want to write more of these kind of things to focus on some of the beneath-the-surface actions in the Senate. I think the next one will focus on all of our new Freshmen Senators to see what bills they have written and/or cosponsored to make sure they are focusing on the areas on which they campaigned.
Thanks for reading!