Constitutional Amendments

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Reasons Making a Constitutional Amendment Necessary. Imposing term limits on members of the U.S Senate and House of Representatives is a necessary amendment that will improve congress for the better. While the move has its perks such as propelling government reform, and curbing corruption, it will require an amendment of the constitution which is no small feat. The constitution does not include term limits as necessary qualifications for candidates vying for legislative offices, and therefore, including term limits would be an unconstitutional initiative by the congress unless the constitution is amended (Vile, 2016). U.S Term Limits Inc. vs Thornton provides a good reference that illuminates the steps necessary to impose term limits in congress. In this case, conflicts ensued following the term limitations enacted upon those elected to be house representatives and part of the U.S senate, three terms and two terms respectively, in the state of Arkansas. Arkansas adopted Amendment 73, which was a ballot measure taken up during the 1992 general election. The amendment prohibited individuals who had served for a set maximum terms from being permitted to the House or Senate. After Arkansas enacted this amendment, the US representative of Arkansas, Ray Thornton who was involved in a suit filed against the amendment’s adoption by the state. A non-profit organization, U.S Term Limits Inc. was among the granted intervenors supporting Amendment 73. The Arkansas state court and the U.S supreme court resolved the conflict through a ruling that emphasized the importance of the states as part of a federal framework established by the constitution. These courts pointed out that the qualifications listed in the U.S constitution for individuals elected to congress are exclusive and therefore, congress and states do not have the power to include other qualifications (Beienburg, 2014). The stand taken by the courts imply that, for the plan to impose term limits to be successful, the clauses barring the congress and states from including additional qualifications in the U.S constitution must be changed, thus making an amendment the only option. The courts are interpreters of the constitution and its actions are bound by the constitution.

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Therefore, passing a law within congress limiting the terms of candidates vying for legislative role will have to be successfully petitioned in court. The Marbury vs Madison case is a good example which pinpoints the court’s role in judicial review, where it interprets the law for plaintiffs and defendants alike and acts accordingly. In a bid to cement control of the federalist congress, the party established 16 circuit judgeships among other new judgeships. The move led to appointments filling in positions such as the justice of peace, an initiative allegedly meant to frustrate Jefferson’s legislative agenda as he began his era as president. William Marbury, a leader in the federalist party, was among these last-minute appointments but he did not receive his commission following Jefferson’s action through the secretary of state to withhold Marbury’s commission. Marbury filed a petition at the supreme court requesting the court to issue a writ of mandamus which prevented Madison, the secretary of state from withholding the commission. The supreme court denied the petition and consequently refused to grant Marbury his request. The court explained through Chief Justice Marshall, that despite the commission being entitled to Marbury, the constitution did not grant the court the power to issue writs of mandamus (Beienburg, 2014). The constitution in this case, rendered the Judiciary Act of 1789 which gave power to the court to issue mandamus invalid. The highlighted case, Marbury vs Madison emphasizes on the need to amend the constitution and have the it amended accordingly to include term limits for those elected to the senate and house of representatives. Elements to Consider when Drafting Language to Amend the Constitution. As we plan to amend the constitution, we must consider the canons of construction and interpretation as applied by judges to interpret the law. Judges apply a specific set of tools to interpret and point out the meanings of statutes (Fraser, 2017). Understanding these tools commonly referred to as canons of construction, will be useful as we draft an amendment of the U.S constitution through guiding our language, it will also help us challenge previous laws as laid out by legislators. Among the canons of construction, is the application of plain and unambiguous language.

In this case, a court implements the statute as presented without construing its content. This rule guides judges when giving effect to legislative intent, therefore, the language we apply as we present a statute leading to the amendment of the constitution should be plain and unambiguous as possible to counter arguments from astute individuals meant to construe an ambiguous statement (Fraser, 2017). It is also prudent that we consider the text used when laying out our legislative intent targeting to amend the constitution. The court assesses the legislative intent by focusing on the words applied in the proposed amendment, and the reasonableness of this statute (Fraser, 2017). The text presented should therefore consist of clear wordings that are reasonable while clearly communicating our legislative intent. Another element to consider entails legislative history which can help in construction of a statute. When engaging in their role of interpretation, courts refer to a specific statute’s history to assert if there exists consistency in the legislature over time or how changes in policy that have been arrived at previously. we can review legislative intents of previous legislators, the language used and the build up to the verdict as this will help us improve our case as we plan to amend the constitution.

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Constitutional Amendments. (2019, Dec 12). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from
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