The already existing amendments to the Constitution fall under several categories

  1. One amendment guaranteeing the freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion.
    1. First Amendment stating ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances’;
  2. Three amendments largely amending Article I regarding the constitution of the legislative branch:
    1. Sixteenth Amendment which clarifies and reconfirms the power to tax incomes in whatever manner it sees fit;
    2. Seventeenth Amendment which changes the election of senators to popular election;
    3. Twenty-seventh Amendment which ensures that increases in compensation for legislators only take affect in the following term.
  3. Four amendments largely amending Article II regarding the constitution of the exectuive branch:
    1. Twelfth Amendment changing the operation of the electoral college;
    2. Twentieth Amendment changing the start of the Presidential term from March to January;
    3. Twenty-second Amendment providing term limits for the Presidency;
    4. Twenty-fifth Amendment establishing a chain of succession for the Presidency
  4. One amendment dealing with Article III and the jurisdiction of the federal court:
    1. Eleventh Amendment which established sovereignty for the individual states by limiting the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction in cases naming any of the several states as a defendant
  5. Two amendments limiting and dispersing military power:
    1. Second Amendment dispersing the keeping and bearing arms across all;
    2. Third Amendment protecting against military quartering of soldiers during peacetime
  6. Four amendments guaranteeing rights of the suspected, accused, indicted, and convicted:
    1. Fourth Amendment protecting against unreasonable search and seizure and guaranteeing the protection of probable cause;
    2. Fifth Amendment protections against double-jepeordy, self-incrimination, and guaranteed protections for due process, and compensation in cases of eminent domain;
    3. Sixth Amendment guarantees for criminal trial;
    4. Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment
  7. One amendment guaranteeing trial by jury in most civil suits where the federal courts have original jurisdiction and incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment to guarantee the same in state courts.
    1. Seventh Amendment guaranteeing trial by jury for any civil case over $20.
  8. Five (or six) amendments extending the right to vote:
    1. Fifteenth Amendment which ensured the right to vote regardless of race, color, or prior condition of servitude,
    2. Nineteenth Amendment which guaranteed women the right to vote;
    3. Twenty-third Amendment granting DC residents the vote for President;
    4. Twenty-forth Amendment protection of the right to vote regardless of paying any poll tax or failure to pay any other tax;
    5. Twenty-sixth Amendment expanding the right to vote to those between eighteen and twenty-one years of age;
    6. (and the earlier mentioned 17th amendment which granted the entire US electorate the right of direct vote for senator)
  9. Two amendments guaranteeing the right of limited government and making clear and explicit the proper construction of the Constitution as so limited (Ninth and Tenth Amendments)
  10. Two prohibition amendments prohibiting intoxicating liquors (Eighteenth Amendment) and then repealing that prohibition but granting states the power to do so (Twenty-first Amendment) if they did not already enjoy that power through their own enumerated powers
  11. The Fourteenth Amendment which defined citizenship as a guarantee of birth and otherwise a power delegated to federal government; enjoined the states from infringing on either the privileges or immunities of citizens guaranteed by the United States; and ensuring equal protection and due process for all persons subject to the power of any state.
  12. Thirteenth Amendment which stands out as unique in that it does not relate solely to government construction and limits, but actually requires that government ensure that no person is subjected to slavery or involuntary servitude of others. It therefore obligates government to protect a basic human right to be free from slavery and involuntary servitude even within private non-governmental relations. While this might be something done through ordinary legislation, the thirteenth amendment is unique in being the only clause which requires such enforcement in the Constitution itself. Such a protection of human rights is indispensable to ensure that every person can participate as an autonomous and sovereign actor in this republican form of government. I think of the 13th amendment as amending the fourth section of Article IV which obligates the United States government to guarantee a republican form of government. Guaranteeing a republican form of government requires equal protection of the law and an electorate freed from slavery and servitude (so that all associations outside government are voluntary associations).

If I could make some adjustments to the Constitution to learn from the hindsight of the last two centuries of our government’s development under the Constitution, I would make some changes:

  1. Tribune Amendment: creating a fourth branch of government for oversight of government and creation of news content, analysis, rhetoric, voluntary commercial standards, polls and surveys, and serve as a plaintiff in suits against public officials.
  2. Amendments to make explicit the powers implied by tradition (because I believe that powers should be made explicit and enumerated to a reasonable extent rather than relying on traditionally implied and other implied powers):
    1. Environmental regulation: Granting Congress the explicit power over environmental regulation which Congress is already exercising through providing for the general welfare and any relatedly implied powers
    2. Proprietor and steward of the commons: granting Congress the power to make appropriations and establish guidelines for the executive branch to act as a proprietor of natural monopoly industries, natural monopoly resources and other commons. Also making it explicit that only Congress can originate money and regulate the value thereof and explicitly requiring that only Congress can operate interstate natural monopolies as public commons and that the states and their local bodies may only operate intrastate public commons. This makes explicit the powers already exercised to establish the National Park System, the National Forests, the Interstate Highway System and other necessary commons and is merely an explicit enumeration of a traditional power of government dating back to ancient times, while also eliminating the predatory incursions into governmental powers take the public commons for profit. Currently Congress exercise these powers through the Constitution’s initial clause of section 8 of Article I to enable taxation to provide for the general welfare and the enumerated power to provide postal roads which enables both paved roads and railroads. The commerce clause also provides some powers for stewardship and proprietorship of pubic commons since, in the case of natural monopoly industries, providing the general welfare and regulating commerce basically requires socialization of these monopoly industries.
    3. Assistance for needy persons and communities: Granting Congress the explicit power to tax to provide assistance to needy persons, households and families or to communities and even states which are suffering some disadvantage. Again, the power to provide for the general welfare is the primary empowerment enabling aid to both needy persons and communities as well as implied powers.
  3. Other possible amendments:
    1. No servitude whatsoever: Require that the fruits of any worker’s labor be appropriated themselves and thus make explicit the prohibition of servitude even for an hour or a day, let alone the prohibition for longer terms as the 13th amendment has been widely interpreted. The allowance of voluntary servitude is somewhat of an Orwellian construction. Servitude by its very nature is not something an autonomous person ever prefers.
    2. Washington DC Legislative representation: There may be many ways to accomplish this, but the population of the District must enjoy the same full voting legislative representation which all other residents within the US enjoy.
    3. Presidential direct instant runoff voting (IRV) elections rather than relying on the electoral college and the two-party system.
    4. Legislator recall: replacing the expulsion of legislators with a more democratic system allowing voters to recall their legislators through their own initiative or through a referendum enacted by any house which accuses a member of misconduct (and providing clear explicit language codifying past juridical precedent that impeachment does not apply to legislators).
    5. National Assembly: A third house of Congress where Counselors (perhaps 100 or 200) are elected through nationwide proportional vote such as the SIngle Transferable Voting system originating in Australia and now implemented in a dozen legislative elections around the World. Once the new legislative house is created, any two houses would be empowered to send a bill to the President for signature, while any bill adopted by all three houses would not need a Presidential signature. This proposal thus properly attenuates executive power while also allowing for more diverse views into Congress.
    6. Requiring full Congressional approval for lifetime appointments: The need for advise and consent of the Senate only for Presidential appointments is fine until we get to the lifetime appointments of the judiciary where appointments should really face a higher threshold and one based on judicial philosophy.
    7. Requiring full Congressional approval for treaties: Since treaties may sometimes also require House action to meet the obligations of the treaty, the House should also participate in any treaty ratification.
    8. Clarification of war powers and the power to declare war: We need to make war something that occurs rarely or never as the Constitution’s framers intended. We need to make sure US troops are deployed only to defend the United States and its overseas territories unless a Congressional declaration of war has occurred or an equivalent authorization. We also need to more clearly define the powers of a commander in chief and the specific situations when those powers can be exercised.
    9. Defining citizenship and citizen guarantees: We should make it explicit that citizenship, once attained, is a guarantee that cannot ever be revoked. We should also clarify the paths to attaining citizenship as either: 1) being naturalized; 2) being born in the US prior to the the ratification of this new amendment; or 3) being parented by a US citizen, regardless of geographic place of birth. Finally we should clarify that the exclusive, though limited, power over migration rests with Congress. There is some ambiguity in the US Constitution regarding migration. However it makes sense for this to be a federal power and that intent seems likely in the language of the Constitution where it allowed an initial 20 year transitional period before the states no longer had the power to regulate migration.
    10. Explicit firewall between government enforcement and commons operations: An amendment to make it clear that the guarantees of due process, against unreasonable search and seizure and other Constitutional guarantees also applies when government is collecting information for operation of natural monopolies and any other designated government monopolies. While this is largely supported by the current state of stare decisis from past precedents, it would be desirable to make this clear to ensure such information maintained about users of government services (for example, the post office), could not be used without a warrant ‘upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’ Likewise, such an amendment would make clear that the other guarantees within the Constitution apply to the criminal justice segment of the government even though other segments might carry incriminating information. Note that even without this amendment the current system granting ignoble corporations the power over the commons and other governmental powers implies that such private corporations can collude and cooperate with criminal enforcement agencies without any Constitutional guarantees whatsoever (according to current jurisprudence).
    11. Narrowing the Presidential power to grant Reprieves and Pardons: Eliminate the power to pardon or grant a reprieve for any crimes committed during tenure of service in the Executive Branch in addition to the current restriction for impeachment.