Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Congressional Term Limits—One of the WORST Proposals in the History of the Republic


During my involvement with the Tea Party Movement and the 9/12 Project, I have heard and read repeatedly that we, as a nation, MUST return to the Constitution and Constitutional principles. With that proposition, I totally agree. I have also heard some in the movements talk about placing term limits on members of Congress. March 3rd, I posted a proposed Constitutional Amendment that I had received through e-mail. As is often the case with these types of e-mails, it concluded with “If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete

You are one of my 20+. Please keep it going.”

I’m sorry. However, I fervently disagree with this proposal. And I will do more than just delete it. I will attempt to explain why this proposal is one of the WORST proposals in the history of the Republic!

But before giving my objections to the proposal, I want to clear up another wrong idea that some in the movements have expressed. I have heard Rush Limbaugh say on his radio show that there were callers who wanted to declare that the United States is a republic and not a democracy. Rush will have nothing to do with this type of thinking and refuses to let them have their say on the program. And he is right.

Some people are trying to take a page out of the leftist propaganda playbook and redefine these two words for their own purposes. The people who want this redefinition are right and they are wrong. We are a Republic. It says the following within the U.S. Constitution in Article IV, Section 4:

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government ….”

Logically, the writers of the Constitution would not provide a guarantee to every State of a republican form of government unless they considered the government established by the Constitution itself to also be a republican form of government.

However, they are also wrong because a republican form of government is NOT separate and distinct from democracy. By definition, there are two types of democracies. The first is known as a pure democracy. In a pure democracy, all the eligible citizens gather together as one group and make decisions by vote of all the eligible citizens. Since such a practice is impractical for very large groups of eligible citizens, the second form of a democracy is often preferred. That second form of democracy is a republican form of government where the eligible citizens select, by some method, individuals to represent them and to make decisions for them. That is exactly the case for the United States. We are a Republic. We are also a democracy since a republic is a type of democracy. Enough said!

Having read the proposal as posted on March 3rd, I decided to divide my comments into three segments.

They are:

1) The United States Constitution, Constitution Writing, and Amending the Constitution

2) No Tenure / No Pension which is the second section of the proposed Constitutional Amendment

3) Term Limits which is the stated goal of the proposed Amendment and the first section of the proposal.

I will discuss each of the three segments in an individual post. Today, segment one.

Segment 1:

The United States Constitution, Constitution Writing, and Amending the Constitution

The United States Constitution:

Some people have claimed that the United States Constitution is one of the greatest documents, if not the greatest document, ever produced by man. Outside of the Bible which is claimed to be inspired by GOD, I would agree.

[One instance of the Biblical claim of inspiration from GOD is II Timothy 3: 16-17 (NIV) “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”]

In fact, I would argue that the United States Constitution is the greatest document produced by man with the exception of the Bible. I also believe that GOD had HIS hand in the writing of the document. The Constitution is remarkable for its forward thinking, compromises where necessary, and practicality. If true, the nation should be circumspect when amending such a document.

And in fact, over the two hundred plus years of the life of the Constitution, the nation has been. During this long span of history for this nation, the Constitution has only been amended twenty-seven times. Breaking down the history of those twenty-seven amendments, the process has been even more remarkable. Two of those amendments cancel each other out. The “Prohibition Amendment” passed in 1919 as part of the “progressive movement” of that era was repealed in 1933 during the Great Depression. It was repealed not because it did not work as expected as some claim but because the governments wanted a “painless” source of revenue to tax during those economically hard times. Think of taxing cigarettes, alcohol, and gambling as is done today. Thus, we now have twenty-five amendments over 200 plus years.

The first ten amendments (known as the Bill of Rights) passed in 1791, soon after the adoption of the Constitution, were added, as promised, to help insure the adoption of the Constitution. Some have argued that they are basically part of the original Constitution since their promised inclusion was necessary to ratify the Constitution. Thus, we are now down to fifteen additional Amendments.

Amendments XI and XII were added within fifteen years thereafter to make minor adjustments to the Constitution because of perceived problems discovered in implementing the document. For the next 61 years no additional amendments were added.

The next three amendments were after the Civil War to deal with the aftermath of that conflict. We are now down to ten amendments.

The next set of amendments began to be passed 43 years later to make the nation more democratic as part of the “progressive movement” of that era. Those four include the income tax, election of Senators, prohibition (which was repealed in 1933 and has already been counted), and women voting rights. Now, we are down to seven amendments.

Two amendments were passed thirteen years later in 1933. One began the terms of the President and Congress earlier than originally established in the Constitution—from March back to January—and the other repealed the Prohibition Amendment and has already been included. Down to six amendments.

18 years later, the term of the President was restricted by Constitution Amendment. In large measure, a slap at Franklin D. Roosevelt for violating the established tradition of two terms for a President first established by our first President—George Washington. Down to five amendments.

10 years later and over a span of 10 years ending in 1971, four more amendments were added. Again, these basically were to make the nation more democratic. Down to one additional amendment.

21 years later in 1992, one final amendment was added dealing with pay raises for members of Congress. Since 1992, no additional amendments have been added.

The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788. 223 years later we have only had a total of twenty-seven amendments. In contrast, Illinois’ current Constitution was ratified in December of 1970 and already eleven amendments have been added. I would say, the nation has been rather circumspect in formally amending the U.S. Constitution. And rightfully so.

Constitution Writing:

The major principle in writing a Constitution is that the document should be general in nature and not nitpick with exacting detail. The example given is the United States Constitution. I have a 5¼ inch by 8¼ inch booklet published by the State of Illinois that has both the U.S. Constitution and the State of Illinois Constitution printed within the booklet. The U.S. Constitution is nine pages long and includes the names of all the Convention delegates who signed the original document—the ninth page.

In contrast the Illinois Constitution of 1970 is thirty pages long. And in fact, many, if not all, of the State Constitutions are considered too detailed in their composition. The United States Constitution is the model for Constitution writing in its clarity and brevity. The nation should be circumspect when amending such a document.

Amending the Constitution:

The Constitution establishes within itself the process to be used to amendment the Constitution. Unfortunately, the libertine left has been promoting for years the fallacious concept that the United States Constitution is a “living Constitution.” By that, they mean that the Constitution must and does change with the times. It may be interpreted anyway that a majority of the Supreme Court chooses to interpret the document. Thus, the corollary concept that “The Constitution says what the Supreme Court says it says!” Some members of the Supreme Court have even gone so far as to use international law not adopted by the United States, the Constitutions of other nations, and international practices and believes to interpret the United States Constitution. All these are in violation of the very Constitution they purport to uphold!

In fact, the United States Constitution does NOT give the federal courts the power to declare any law, including federal law, to be unconstitutional—so called judicial review. That power is simply NOT in the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court first stole that power in the 1803 court case of Marbury v. Madison.


“Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803) is a landmark case in United States law and in the history of law worldwide. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It was also the first time in the world that a court invalidated a law by declaring it ‘unconstitutional.’”]

Ultimately, we as a nation should retreat from the unconstitutional, illegal practice of judicial review. It is NOT in the Constitution. Until then, we MUST hold the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, accountable for their decisions. They must only use the Constitution as written for their decisions. They should not use their own interpretations, their own concepts of fairness, their own concepts of right and wrong, their own concepts of justice. They MUST be held accountable. Finally, when using the only Constitutional method of amending the Constitution as established by the Constitution, the nation should be circumspect when amending such a document.