Six Constitutional Amendments Are Needed, Says Former SCOTUS Justice
After serving 35 years on the Supreme Court, John Paul Stevens has some Constitutional amendments he’d like to get passed — six, to be exact. In a new book, the former justice proposed a series of changes to the U.S. Constitution that, were they to be ratified, would drastically reshape the political landscape in the United States. Among the changes: A ban on the death penalty, a significant weakening of the Second Amendment, and limits on campaign spending.
Stevens’ book, aptly titled “Six Amendments,” was released Tuesday, and it seems designed to elicit outrage from conservatives. One of his proposed amendment would explicitly state that the right to bear arms applies only to militias, not private citizens. Another would specifically identify the death penalty as “cruel and unusual punishment (and thus outlaw it per the Eighth Amendment), while yet another would make gerrymandering illegal.
He’d also make clear that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to campaign spending. That position is in line with his recent criticisms of McCutcheon v. FEC, a ruling that struck down aggregate campaign contribution limits for individuals.
Unfortunately for Stevens, changing the Constitution is really, really difficult. In order for an amendment to even be considered, it first has to be proposed by either a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress or a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures. It must then be ratified by 38 out of 50 states, which seems just about impossible in today’s political climate.
Stevens acknowledged these obstacles, particularly with regard to the Second Amendment, but said the purpose of his book is to “cause further reflection over a period of time.”