Saturday, October 13, 2007

Proposing Constitutional Change

In his new book A More Perfect Constitution (Walker & Company, 2007) Larry Sabato, the founder and director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics lays out a series of twenty-three proposals for constitutional revision. These amendments would, he argues, bring the Constitution into the twenty-first century by making the structures of our government more fair, more representative, and more effective.

Most of us are instinctively leery of major structural changes to the Constitution, and with good reason - it's lasted for more than two centuries, and has served the United States well. At first glance, some if not many of Sabato's proposals seem unnecessary, unpalatable, or both. But after reading his justifications for them, I was convinced by both the desirability and the necessity of nearly all of them.

Since Sabato's stated purpose with his book is to promote a great debate over these ideas, and to prompt what he terms a "generational process of moderate, well-considered change," I'd like to begin a discussion of his proposals by outlining them in brief and adding my own views as they currently stand (I will admit that some of them changed just in the course of reading this book). I will attempt as much as possible to keep Sabato's proposals separate from my own opinions so as not to influence others' perceptions of his ideas, but I do encourage everyone interested in this discussion to read his book, where he makes his case in much greater and persuasive detail.

The discussion begins here, over at TMV.


At 7:24 AM, Blogger Paul Wartenberg said...

I would love to read that book! Thanks for letting us know!

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Paul Wartenberg said...

I've seen the summaries at TMV. I would beg to differ with Mr. Sabato on the number of Representatives in Congress (1000?!), and I seriously differ on his call to expand Senate membership to just the large states based on population figures (which defeats the purpose of the Great Compromise). If he wants to expand Senate representation for states, why not take the simple route of bumping the count of 2 Senators up to 3? Three Senators will a) effectively enlarge the body count to ensure the committee and subcommittee jobs are spread out better; b) allow states to vote each biannual election for a Senator, no longer missing one turn, and thus reflect in the Senate any shift among voters for which party they favor; c) ensure that small states still get equal power in the Senate while the large states keep power in the House.


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