Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Getting rid of bad judges

Federal judges serve for life -- it's in the Constitution. And it's certainly a problem, as the guys over at PowerLine point out here. The only way to change that is through a Constitutional amendment. Although most people don't realize it, a friend just pointed out to me that there are actually two ways to amend the Constitution, both set out in Article V:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
In other words, one way to do it is to have a proposed amendment pass both the Senate and the House by a two-thirds majority in each. Then, the proposed amendment has to be approved by the individual states. This is the commonly used way to amend the constitution, and one that failed, most recently, with the Equal Rights Amendment. The second way is a bit more interesting, especially since its never been used since the first Constitutional Convention:
The second method prescribed is for a Constitutional Convention to be called by two-thirds of the legislatures of the States, and for that Convention to propose one or more amendments. These amendments are then sent to the states to be approved by three-fourths of the legislatures or conventions. This route has never been taken, and there is discussion in political science circles about just how such a convention would be convened, and what kind of changes it would bring about.
As my friend explained to me, what this means is that the Red States could bypass Congressional gridlock and convene a Constitutional Convention to get all sorts of interesting things going -- things like term limits for Federal judges, clarification of the Establishment Clause, a Traditional Marriage Amendment, etc. With momentum from preapproval by the States, Congress would be hard pressed not to ratify the resulting amendments.