Another Stab At The U.S. Constitution

Ten legal scholars propose their own changes to the 225 year-old US Constitution, via NYTimes:

ConstitutionA recent study said that the U.S. Constitution was declining in influence. According to the authors, “the constitutions of the world’s democracies are, on average, less similar to the U.S. Constitution now than they were at the end of World War II.”

As the United States prepares to mark the 225th anniversary of its Constitution, we have the benefit of hindsight that the framers lacked. What should be omitted, clarified or added?

“Sometimes prison sentences — even the most severe — are a rational response to crime. But often, sentences are the product of a political process in which politicians are scared of appearing soft on crime so they do not even question the reasonableness of a proposed criminal law. It is the norm, not the exception, for politicians to reflexively push for harsher sentences without considering empirical evidence about what level of sanction is necessary for deterrence or what impact a sentence will have on communities. It is an environment long on rhetoric and short on reflection.

The Constitution has failed to check this pathological process. The Eighth Amendment bans “cruel and unusual punishments.” But some justices do not think this bans excessive prison terms. And the requirement that a sentence be “unusual” has meant that the justices often do little more than count up states with similar sentences without looking at how states reached those outcomes.”

For the whole debate, click here.