The first 10 amendments to the US Constitution could have been an addendum to the US Constitution. With the idea that the Bill of Rights could have been added as an Addendum to the US Constitution, my notes on the remaining 17 amendments are as follows. My notes are regarding the notes on the official transcript by the National Archives.
For reference, the US Constitution is broken down into the following sections
- Article 1 – Congressional Powers
- Article 2 – Executive Powers
- Article 3 – Judiciary Powers
- Article 4 – States
- Article 5 – Amendments
- Article 6 – Laws, Debts and Agreements
- Section 7 – Ratification and signatures
Amendment 16 – This amendment would be covered under contract severability because it is in conflict with the original text of the US Constitution. The original text allows Congress to lay and collect taxes and it does not place restrictions on collecting income tax. The first portion of the amendment is valid because it affirms that Congress can collect and lay taxes on any income regardless of source. Taxes set by Congress are considered Federal Taxes and currently cover wages, investment, director compensation, corporate officer disbursements, share holder disbursements and self employment income.
The part of the amendment that would be invalid would be the portion that states without apportionment and without regard to census. This part is in conflict with the original text of the constitution and it should not prevail. It is therefore severable and null and void.
It helps to understand how Federal Budgets were allocated throughout history and in the early colonial days to understand the intent of the constitutional text in Article 1 Section 9. Normally, a kingdom or nation would determine that X amount of taxes need to be collected in order to meet the financial obligations of the kingdom or nation over the next Y amount of years.
The Founding Fathers thought that it would be most fair that if X amount of dollars needed to be raised, that amount would be divided by Z number of people. If people could not afford the taxes, they would lose their voting rights regarding management of the Federal Government but not any of their common law or citizen rights like right to self defense and right to due process in court.
It helps to understand that direct taxes refer to costs shared between several states. As an example Wisconsin, Ohio and New York along with Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois have shared costs in water quality management of the Great Lakes. Their residents will then be taxed in proportion to this direct cost to manage the water quality of a natural resource. There are also costs involved in having diplomatic talks regarding the water quality of the Great Lakes with Canada. So financial obligation for residents of these states should be proportional according to the US Constitution for this direct tax. These states then charge export fees to other states to recover the costs of the tax for any fish or water exported and charge tourism fees or admission fees to get access to the lakes for recreational sports. Any excess funds are then sent to the US Treasury to be held in a water management fund for the great lakes.
The amendment attempts to establish disproportional taxes based on arbitrary data. The Federal Government has already established proportional taxes on income because it bases it on a percentage. State level sales tax also charge sales tax on a percentage so the taxes are already proportional. These percentages are actually based on population size and the projected need of the Federal Government so they are constitutionally compliant.
Amendment 17 – This amendment is in conflict with the original text of the constitution so parts of it are severable. The Senators are to be chosen by the legislature per Article 1, Section 3, Paragraph 1 of the US Constitution. If the state legislature decides that the people should submit their votes to them if they are undecided about several senators then that is fine because that would be compliant with Article 1, Section 4, Paragraph 1 of the US Constitution but the people of the United States can not directly elect a Senator. A Senator is a representative of the Federal Government and acts as an intermediary between the Federal Government and the States.
The rest of the amendment appears valid as there is no conflict between an Executive Authority (Governor) making an appointment during a recess of the Legislature and allowing the Legislature to allow the Governor to make temporary appointments until the legislature directs the people to vote. However, the Legislature can override the vote of the people and the Legislature is expected to nominate Senators that will do a competent job and is knowledgeable of the issues that will be covered in Congress over their 6 year term. What is not mentioned is that if the people vote for a “gag senator” meaning a eligible but not qualified candidate that the State Legislature and the People’s Representatives can be held liable in Congress within the cloakrooms.
The State Legislature may direct the people to only allow subject matter experts to vote for an appropriate Senator and to leave the ballot blank if they do not understand the topics or biographies of Eligible Senators. Ultimately, the State Legislature holds liability for selecting an incompetent Senator.
Amendment 18 – This article is invalid as constitutional text because it denies rights and is in conflict with the Declaration of Independence of 1776. Liquors and spirits have been used in celebrations to bring glee and joy since ancient times and more recently as a medicine to cure illnesses and ailments. A constitutional document should always affirm and document existing rights and methods of governance. It should never deny rights or provide procedures for “licensing” and “permits”. Any licensing, permits or specific denial of rights and liberties can be placed into legislative text because it is an agreement between residents of an area and the residents can later agree to remove those restrictions or keep them in place. This amendment was never valid as constitutional text and was rightly removed by the 21st amendment.
Amendment 19 – This amendment is constitutionally valid because it affirms that women have a right to vote and that their right to vote can not be abridged simply because they no longer have sex with their husband or have gone through a divorce.
While this amendment is often misconstrued as the amendment that gives women the right to vote it actually affirmed that women have a right to vote independently of the males in their family.
Women had been voting since at least 1693 when the Salem witch trials occurred. They often voted directly in many communities and their communities voted at the legislature with males only. The women were property owners, had education in math, science and literature and were contributors to their communities independent of the males in their families so had every right to vote. They often wrote books, drew paintings, taught children academics and nutrition and acted as personal assistants for male scholars and politicians in their family or as part-time shop keepers. Usually the personal assistant or temporary/seasonal/part-time shop keeper work were paid jobs but were done discretely and they often got in trouble if a person outside their community witnessed them shop keeping or getting paid to “take notes” for a dignified man.
During the Salem Witch Trials, women who were caught voting or “soothe saying” the males in their family often pointed to great women leaders such as Margaret Tudor, Anne Boleyn, Queen Anne, Queen Elizabeth I, Isabella of Angouleme, Mary of England, Emma of Normandy, Matilda of Scotland, and Empress Matilda. They often also used examples such as Ruth and Esther to their accusers which is why they were accused of witchcraft and ministering to a holy man.
As time progressed, women continued to vote directly at the local level and through male representatives at regional or national level. This amendment affirmed that women’s right to vote could not be restricted based on marriage, sexual intercourse, promise to marry and provide sex to a future husband or restricted because they are widowed or divorced.
This amendment is in pleasant contrast to the 18th amendment and brings to constitution back on track. The amendment is not in conflict with the original text of the constitution or any subsequent amendments that remain in tact after applying severability rules and it affirms rights that have already been commonly established.
Amendment 20 – I disagree that one amendment can supersede another amendment. The 18th amendment was invalid so the 21st amendment documented that it was invalid and left it up to State Legislatures to allow the people to vote on the control of alcohol within their communities.
Article 6, Paragraph 2 of the US Constitution states “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States … shall be the Supreme Law of the Land .. any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. This means than an amendment can only clarify existing text, add additional Citizen Rights or give new directives for governance that do not conflict with existing text in the US Constitution. An amendment can not restrict, rescind or takeaway rights nor can it be in conflict with the original text or with preexisting amendments whose clauses are not severable or invalid.
The Founders documented and extensively discussed legislation and war protocols before writing the constitution and the USA was lawfully established during the Treaty of Paris of 1783. The Constitution is concise in everything they understood and slightly vague on topics that they were not familiar with or was still being discussed on an international level. For these second set of criteria, the text is open to amendment; however, an amendment can never be in conflict with or override existing constitutional text.
Article 1, Section 4 was not modified by the amendment because Congress already the power to change the day that they assemble on if they only meet once a year and this would have been done through Public Law during the 73rd Congress. While it is disrespectful to say of a nations founding documents, this amendment has no purpose other than to prove that the US Constitution can be amended. Constitutions are not a legislative document they can be compared to articles of incorporation or corporate charters that establish an entity but do not give great details on governance and policies of a corporation. Thorough legislation is in the corporate bylaws which can be updated at the yearly shareholder meetings. In this analogy, the US Code are similar to corporate bylaws but the US Constitution is similar to an Article of Incorporation or Corporate Charter. All Constitutions are an affirmation of existing Citizen Rights and a Directive on how to run the government. Continuing this analogy, the Constitution it is a legal and lawful document but not the place to put legislative text in that may change frequently as often as on a yearly basis. The date is also in conflict with the original text, section 2 is therefore severable. The text in section 2 only changes the date that Congress meets and again, that could have been done through Public Law during the 73rd Congress.
Section 3 of this amendment only adds a directive that if the elected President of the United States suffers a death between election day and inauguration day that the elected Vice President will become the President. The remaining amendment does nothing to change the directive for governance outlined in Article 2, Section 1, Paragraph 6 of the US Constitution because if the President fails to qualify by March 4th then the Vice President would already become the President per that directive of the US Constitution since that would be an inability to discharge powers. Additionally, if both the President and Vice President fail to “qualify” by March 4th, Congress already has power to legislatively appoint a President and Vice President through Article 2, Section 1, Paragraph 6 of the US Constitution because failing to qualify would also be a inability. The March 4th deadline was added by the 12th amendment.
Section 4 also does nothing because the US Constitution already provides the case of death of any officers serving as President or Vice President since an Acting President is the President for all intents an purposes and if they die or a nominee to serve as President dies then Congress still has the power to declare another officer to Act as President or Vice President.
Section 5 gives a date of October 15 for the amendment to go into place. The only that went into place was that the Elected Vice President would become the President if the Elected President dies between election day and inauguration day.
Section 6 is unnecessary to include because the US Constitution already provides this stipulation in Article 5 regarding amendments. Including this in the final published version of the amendment clutters up a document that may need to be examined or inspected by foreign heads of state or heads of nation.