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Extreme Constitution Makeover: Amendments of the New Congress

From removing presidential term limits to tweaking the First Amendment to make sure it doesn't apply to businesses.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

January 17, 2013 - 5:06 pm
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“This will take members from both sides of the aisle working together in good faith to tackle our budget problems and reduce the deficit, which will put us on the road to paying off our national debt,” Cuellar said.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) is trying to get a hand from the Constitution to keep the White House from continuously demanding debt ceiling increases.

His amendment, which would go into effect 10 years after ratification, stipulates “the United States government may not increase its debt except for a specific purpose by law adopted by three-fourths of the membership of each House of Congress.”

Donna Christensen (D), freshly sworn in to her ninth term as the delegate representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, proposed an amendment stating that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote in the election for President and Vice President shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of residency in a territory or commonwealth of the United States.”

“The over 4 million citizens in the U.S. territories are among the most patriotic Americans you will find anywhere in our country,” she said.

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced constitutional term limits for members of Congress: four terms for members of the House, and two terms for senators.

Amendment or no amendment, Fitzpatrick, who was elected in 2010, has pledged to impose the term limit on himself.

The congressman called his measure a “step in the right direction” to restoring the public’s faith in Congress.

And in an effort to beat back a Supreme Court ruling with a constitutional makeover, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who easily fended off a challenge from Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher in November, introduced a trio of constitutional amendments on campaign finance.

One amendment would give Congress power to “set limits on the amount of contributions that may be accepted by, and the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office,” with the same power allocated to states for local and state races.

The second states that “the first article of amendment does not apply to the political speech of any corporation, partnership, business trust, association, or other business organization with respect to the making of contributions, expenditures, or other disbursements of funds in connection with public elections.”

And the final amendment combines the first two, “waiving the application of the first article of amendment to the political speech of corporations and other business organizations with respect to the disbursement of funds in connection with public elections and granting Congress and the States the power to establish limits on contributions and expenditures in elections for public office.”

The Move to Amend group has similarly been seeking to squash the Citizens United ruling by constitutional change.

“We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights,” the group says in its mission statement. “The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule.”

Kaptur introduced her amendments without comment.

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Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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