The following is a working draft of the NEW U.S. Constitution, something which I believe is overdue and which will help correct many of the problems which exist today. As I am writing this, I am working at a resort in the Grand Teton National Park, which is now nearly shut down because of the infighting in Washington D.C. between the Republicans and the Democrats. Many of the problems which exist between the two parties can be corrected with the adoption of this Constitution, though I realize that my version would probably not be the final one adopted, IF we are ever able to reach a point where the American People are able to step up and lead an effort to do just this. However, for it to be successful, I don’t believe that any politician or current public servant should be a party to the writing process or adoption of this document. It should be submitted to all registered voters and, using a paper ballot only, the votes counted by groups of independent, average citizens under the protection of local law enforcement. It’s not that I don’t trust those who are in office right now or the political parties in this country, but I’m concerned that those powerful influences who seem to control our government and military from secret meetings and dark rooms could prevent a truly new, workable Constitution from being written and voted only fairly. It might sound cynical, but our invisible government gives most Americans the same concern. It’s time for us to take back our government and put the rich and powerful in their place beside us, not above us as many of them think that they are!
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Furthermore, we establish that government exists specifically for the benefit of its citizens, the people, not the institutions created by its citizens. Corporations, partnerships, and other business entities are not people and therefore do not have any of the rights of citizens. Those institutions may not vote, hold office, make donations to political campaigns, or attempt to influence government decisions. Those can only be done by individuals.
Furthermore, the primary purpose of government is to secure the Basic Rights for all citizens. Those who are merely legal residents or legal visitors in the United States are not eligible for the Basic Rights of food, shelter, clothing, medical care, employment, or education. Those illegally in the United States are only entitled to fair treatment under the law while they await deportation to their country of origin.
Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America who shall be elected on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in October of the election year and take office on the first Tuesday after the second Monday in January. The President shall serve one, six-year term. Together with the Vice President, who is also restricted to one, six-year term, each shall be elected by a majority vote of those legally registered citizens who go to the polls in person with the required proof of identification set forth by the Congress. Exception to this shall be those qualified registered citizens who are hospitalized due to illness, those who are members of the military, or those in other government service overseas and unable to appear in person.
No person except a natural born citizen shall be eligible to see
k the offices of President or Vice President. To be eligible for these offices, a citizen must have attained the age of thirty-five years and been a resident within the United States for at least ten years prior to filing for office. Residing outside the United States in official service to the United States does not disqualify a person from seeking the offices.
In case of the removal of the President from office, or of death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President. Following the Vice President in line of succession shall be, in this order, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Attorney General. If none of those are eligible or available to serve, the House and Senate shall convene immediately and, by a majority vote of a quorum present, elect a temporary President and Vice President to serve until a national election can be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the sixth month following the date that the office of President was vacated.
The President and Vice President shall be compensated for their services. Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period of service, shall include a salary set by the House of Representatives. Salary shall be subject to federal income tax withholding, social security, and medicare. Health insurance is the responsibility of the office holders. In addition, the President and Vice President shall not receive any other remuneration, including free trips, accommodations, and meals, from either domestic or foreign sources during the term of office, with the exception of official, diplomatic events. Any gifts, awards, honorariums, souvenirs, etc. are the property of the United States.
Before assuming the office, the following oath or affirmation will be taken publicly:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President (Vice President) of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Presidents have the limited authority to issue executive orders for thirty days in cases of national emergency. After thirty days, the Senate must give its approval for it to remain in effect for an additional sixty days. Following the sixty days, Congress as a whole must give its approval; otherwise, the executive order is null and void and cannot be re-issued by the President.
Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of all active and reserve military forces of the United States. The National Guard can only be called into service overseas upon a formal declaration of war by the Congress. The President may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices and may remove them from office at any time. Upon recommendation of the Senate, the President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
The President shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur, if a quorum is present. The President, shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint, by a majority vote of a legal quorum in attendance, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law.
Section 3. The President shall, on the first Tuesday in February, present to both the Senate and the House of Representatives a State of the Union, along with a proposed balanced budget for the next fiscal year, either in person or in writing. The President may convene both Houses, or either of them, as considered necessary or in a national emergency. The President shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers, take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the Officers of the United States military.
Section 4. The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The House of Representatives shall be responsible for impeaching government officials. The Senate shall be responsible for impeachment trials after being presented with a bill of impeachment by the House of Representatives.
Section 1. All legislative powers shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
Section 2. The members of the House of Representatives shall be composed of eligible, registered voters who have been elected by a majority popular vote in each state during even-numbered calendar years. To be eligible to seek this office, a citizen must have attained the age of twenty-five by the day of filing for office, have been a citizen of the United States for seven years by that same date, have been a resident of the state for at least five years, and not have been convicted of a felony. In addition, said person shall have been a registered member of the party on whose ballot his/her name appears for that same five-year period.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the states based on the registered voter records six months before the national election date. Each state shall have three Representatives for each 1,000,000 legal citizens who are registered voters. Representatives shall be chosen at large in each state, districts being eliminated to prevent political gerrymandering. No more than a third of a state’s representatives may come from one political party. No state shall have fewer than three Representatives. Representatives shall serve two-year terms, but each is limited to a total of six years. When vacancies occur in the representation from any State, each state shall determine its rules for filing such vacancies, taking into consideration the rules of eligibility.
The House of Representatives shall choose a Speaker and other officers, who may serve a maximum of two years in their respective positions. Members may call for the removal of said Speaker or other officers by written petition of 51% of the House membership. Removal is immediate, and a new Speaker or other officer shall be chosen at that time.
Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of three Senators from each State, chosen by the legally registered eligible citizens of each state and serve for a single, six-year term. No Senator in any state may come from the same political party as any other in that state. Each Senator shall have one vote.
When Senatorial vacancies occur, each state shall determine its rules for filing such vacancies, taking into consideration the rules of eligibility.
To be eligible to be a Senator, a person shall have attained the age of thirty years prior to registering to run for office, been a legal citizen of the United States for a minimum of ten years, and shall have been a legally registered voter and resident of that state for five years. In addition, said person shall have been a registered member of the party on whose ballot his/her name appears for that same five-year period.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote except to break a tie.
The Senate shall choose its other officers, and also a President pro- tempore, who, in the absence of the Vice President or when he shall succeed to the Office of President of the United States, shall act as the presiding officer. These officers shall serve a maximum of two years and may be removed by the Senate members by a vote of at least 51% of Senate membership.
The Senate shall have the sole power to impeach the President. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be under oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside. The President can only be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the Senate membership. Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any public office to which one must be elected. However, the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.
Section 4. Election of all members of the House and Senate shall take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of the election year.
The Congress shall convene, and new members sworn in, on the first Tuesday after the second Monday in January. Congress shall be considered in session throughout the calendar year except for holidays and recesses as set by a joint committee of its members.
Section 5. Members of the House and the Senate are required to attend a minimum of 90% of the sessions with exceptions for documented illness or government business which has been authorized and approved by the leadership of the chamber. Failure to do so will subject members to censure and/or removal from office.
All legislation presented for consideration must be voted on by the House or Senate as a whole after it has been considered by a committee as organized by each House. Committees must consider each piece of legislation in a timely manner and forward it to the floor with either a favorable recommendation or a negative recommendation. Timely is defined as within thirty days. That time can be extended by thirty days by a unanimous vote of the committee; otherwise, it must be sent along for a floor vote. The leadership of either House is responsible for timely voting on all bills. Refusing or neglecting to do so is grounds for criminal prosecution and/or removal from office. All legislation that is submitted must have three Senate or House sponsors to be considered. The full House or Senate must vote on each piece of legislation within thirty days. Debate is limited to one hour for those in favor of said legislation and one hour for those opposed to said legislation. This limit may be extended by a plurality vote of either House.
Majority vote is necessary for passage of legislation. Filibustering is hereby outlawed. Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of its membership, expel a member.
Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and, on a weekly basis, publish the same. Individual member votes of either House on any question must be listed in said journal.
Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting. All meetings of Congress, whether in committee or as a whole shall be done in public; the press and interested parties are to be allowed to observe all deliberations. Seating may be limited, but a majority of the seating must be reserved to the public. All meetings must be made available for live television broadcast to those networks wishing to carry them, whether on tape or not.
Section 6. Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be set by their state legislatures, and paid out of the treasury of each state. In addition, their staff and its compensation shall also be provided by their state legislatures. Office space, general maintenance, and security will be provided by the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C. As they are considered employees of the voters, their salary is subject to standard withholding for social security and medicare. Members and staff are additionally to be offered health care/life insurance from a selection of plans chosen by its members, but it is at the expense of the members, not the taxpayers. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech made at any other place.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States.
Members of Congress are not permitted to accept payment for their services (speeches, appearances, etc.), nor are they allowed to accept gratuities of any kind for any reason. They are not allowed to accept gifts, free meals, free transportation, or accommodations for any reason. The sole exception to this rule is a member of Congress who is sent by the President to represent the United States while on a foreign mission.
Section 7. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives. Said bills shall then go to the President, who, within ten week days, shall either sign in agreement or veto and return to the House of Representatives. If vetoes, the House may, by majority vote, send the bill to the Senate for a vote to override the President. If, by a 2/3rds vote, the Senate overrides the President, said bill becomes law.
If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten weekdays after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.
Section 8. The House of Representatives shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, and excises to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general services of the United States; but all taxes, duties, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States. The House of Representatives alone has the authority to borrow money on the credit of the United States.
The United States Congress and the President are required to
operate under a balanced budget. Any budget shortfalls at the end of a given fiscal year must be cleared in the next fiscal year budget. Any surplus must be used to pay down any National Debt which existed before the adoption of this Constitution. When that debt is eliminated, any surplus is to be placed into an emergency fund for national emergencies or priority projects as voted by both Houses of Congress. Congress and the President may join together to borrow in excess of revenues only in cases of National Emergency such as a legally declared war or natural disaster.
The current National Debt will be capitalized over a 50-year period with new Debt Retirement Bonds issued at 4% interest and exchanged for the current Treasury Bills. Interest on the new bonds will be tax exempt. At least one-fiftieth of the debt is to be retired each year when the interest is paid on said bonds. At the end of the 50 years, or sooner if possible, the United States will be debt free.
Section 9: The Senate is responsible for and authorized to regulate Commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes;
To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish piracy and felonies committed on the high seas;
To declare war and make rules concerning captures on land and water in theaters of operation;
To create uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and currencies of the United States;
To establish post offices and post roads;
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
To raise and support military forces and make rules for the governing and regulation of those forces;
To provide for calling forth the military reserves and state National Guard members in cases of national emergency or a legally declared war;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the National Guard, which may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over the District of Columbia, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of military or government installations;
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
Section 10. The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless martial law has been declared by a joint declaration of the President and the Senate.
No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.
No tax or duty shall be laid on articles transported from one state to another.
No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another. The exception to this rule is for the support and maintenance of the highways; however, those road taxes must be uniform across the nation and dedicated to highway maintenance.
No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published on a monthly basis.
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept title, of any kind whatever, from any member of royalty or foreign state.
Section 11. No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; coin money; make anything a tender in payment of debts other than Federal Reserve Notes; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.
No State shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any taxes or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.
No State shall, without the consent of Congress, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.
A person is a natural born citizen if one or both of his biological parents are natural born citizens of the United States. A naturalized citizen is a person born of two non-citizen parents, has legally entered the United States, and has met the statutory requirements of citizenship as established by Congress. Being born on American soil does not make someone an American citizen. Anyone who gives up his/her American citizenship is banned from seeking American citizenship at some future date.
Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good behavior for a period not to exceed ten years, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services compensation, established by the Senate, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. Any changes in the compensation will apply only to judges who join a court after the change is made. Judges terms in office restart when they are admitted to a different level court. Moving from one district court to another does not restart the term in office. Moving from an appeals court to the Supreme Court would restart the term in office.
Section 2. The judicial authority of federal courts shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;–to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;–to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;–to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;–to controversies between two or more states;–between a state and citizens of another state;–between citizens of different states;–between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason.
Section 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.
Section 2. The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.
A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another state, shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime.
Section 3. New states may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.
States may not secede from the United States without a three-fourths vote of all natural born citizens of voting age (registered or not) in that state, a three-fourths vote of the state legislature, and a two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress. Congress shall set the procedures for such a process.
The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.
Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a representative form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.
Basic Rights are as follows:
1. Food-where public assistance is accepted, that will only cover foods of a nutritious nature, not empty-calorie, high-fat snack foods, desserts, sodas, etc. as determined by a committee established by the Department of Basic Rights.
2. Shelter-if not a homeowner, people have an expectation that their rental property will be safe and properly maintained by the landlord. States are required to provide emergency shelter (in times of severe weather conditions such as cold, tornado, hurricane, or contagious health outbreaks) if unavailable through local charitable organizations.
3. Clothing-States are required to provide affordable and weather/climate appropriate clothing to all citizens in need, if unavailable through local charitable organizations.
4. Basic and reasonable medical care-all citizens are expected to have medical insurance through their employers or on their own if they are self-employed. Reasonable care is defined as those services, immunizations, medications, and life-saving surgical procedures, other than organ transplants. Such private insurance should cover the excluded items, but the basic coverage subsidized by the federal government does not. The federal government is responsible for subsidizing such insurance according to a formula established by the Department of Basic Rights.
9. The opportunity for employment with a living wage as determined by an established cost of living as determined by a committee created by the Department of Commerce. Employment is not guaranteed, though it is in the best interests of both business and government to work toward full employment.
10.Freedom from fear, intimidation, or bullying is the primary responsibility of local law enforcement with states overseeing their performance. The Department of Justice may step in to assist if requested by states. Civil Rights cases are the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Justice.
11. Free public education from pre-school thru high school is the responsibility of local school districts with states providing supplemental funding according to a formula established by each state.
12. Free vocational training is to be available to citizens who choose not to attend college and who meet criteria established by a committee of members selected by both the Education Committee and the Department of Commerce.
13. Tuition/books/supplies are to be provided free at public colleges for those meeting certain minimum SAT or ACT scores. Room and board/transportation are the responsibility of the students/parents. Those not meeting the initial minimums may qualify after attending college at their own expense and meeting criteria established by a committee created by the Basic Rights Department.
The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution. When ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states, or by state-authorized conventions in three-fourths thereof, said amendments shall become a part of this Constitution.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Elections for national office will be held separate from local or state elections. Voting will begin on the designated election day and proceed for five additional days. Employers are required to allow individual employees time off, if necessary, to vote. They may require proof of actual voting if paying employee for the time off work to vote. No legally registered voter may be prevented from voting by use of a poll tax, educational requirement, or other such method. Registering to vote requires proof of citizenship (certified birth certificate), a current picture ID issued by a state or federal office or current passport issued by the United States, and, for local and state elections, proof of residency (documents established by state legislatures). A voter registration card with picture ID shall be issued upon successful registration. At the time of registration, each person must select a political affiliation of their choice, which shall be recorded and listed on the voter registration card issued. Upon changing affiliations, the voter must re-register in person and receive a new card. There is to be no charge for the voter registration cards with picture ID.
Paper ballots with a detachable receipt showing proof of voting shall be used in all national elections. Voters will be given paper ballots, enter the voting booth alone (or with someone of their choosing as prescribed by law), vote, fold the ballot but leaving the verification tab exposed so that one of the poll workers can sign it to verify that they voted, tear off their receipt, and then place it in the ballot box themselves. Then, they will dip their right index finger in ink, a visual proof that voting has been completed.
Persons unable to vote in person during the normal voting days shall be allowed to apply for and submit an absentee ballot from the state of their legal residence abiding by all the requirements prescribed by law. Such ballots must be cast within thirty days of the scheduled election and held under seal until the last day of the election, when they shall be counted along with the regular ballots. Should anyone not be able to vote due to unforeseen circumstances, he/she will have to wait until the next election. While it is hoped that all legally registered citizens will vote in every election, it is not guaranteed. Should anyone be prevented by others from voting, he/she should contact the F.B.I. when able.
Voting shall take place over a six day period, with polls open from 6 A.M. until 10 P.M. Paper ballots are to be used and counted, verified, and the results verified by three poll workers, one from each of the three major parties, selected at random each election. Ballots boxes are then sealed and delivered by local law enforcement officials and the three poll workers to a central ballot warehouse for security until the election is certified by the state election commissioner.
Section 1: Congress shall make no law establishing or favoring any religion or belief system. Separation of church and state is a cornerstone of democracy. All groups are free to worship as they please so long as they do not attempt to impose their beliefs on others. Religious displays are not considered imposing beliefs so long as they are reasonable, paid for with private donations, and not erected on public property.
Monies received by religious or community organizations through gifts or simple “fund-raising activities” are not considered income subject to income taxes. However, property or businesses owned or operated by such “charitable” groups are subject to federal income taxes on profits earned through the sale of said property or profits earned by their businesses are subject to income taxes. Donations made to charitable organizations are not deductible on individual or corporate tax returns. States retain the right to tax charitable organizations as they see fit, whether for property taxes, sales taxes, or other means, so long as all charitable organizations are treated equally under the law.
” Religious” ceremonies which are innately dangerous or could be reasonably considered life-threatening are prohibited.
Section 2: Neither Congress, nor any state, shall make any law banning a citizen’s right of free speech; however, inciting violence or riots or treasonous statements, making libelous statements, interfering with others right to free speech, or bullying individuals or groups are not protected forms of speech. Statements made in person or through the use of any media-printed material, internet, video, television, cable, CD, DVD, or any other form of publication which may be developed in the future.
Section 3: Neither Congress, nor any state, shall make any law banning the freedom of the press; however, inciting violence or riots or treasonous acts, making libelous statements, publishing pictures of minors without the consent of their parents or guardians, making racial slurs or insinuations, or knowingly printing unproven or false statements about individuals, groups, or organizations are not protected by the freedom of the press. The press is all forms of media: printed, internet, video, television, cable, DVD, or any other form of publication which may be developed in the future.
Section 4: Neither Congress, nor any state, shall make any law banning the right of the citizens to peaceably assemble; however, a permit, with a reasonable fee, may be required so that local officials may prepare for any possible security contingencies.
Section 5: Neither Congress, nor any state, shall make any law banning or restricting the right of citizens to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Section 6: A well-regulated National Guard, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the state to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. In addition, individual citizens of the United States, who have taken and passed a gun safety course, a criminal background check, and have no public record of mental instability or psychotic/schizophrenic behavior or treatment may keep legally registered weapons in their private homes or business or on their persons in accordance with the laws of their state for use in hunting, personal protection, or as collectors. However, when not in use or on display, all weapons are required to be kept in a gun safe with trigger locks to prevent them from being accidentally accessed by someone other than the owner. Military weapons, weapons of mass destruction, or large capacity magazines are excluded from private ownership. In the case of legally registered collectors, military rifles may be collected; however, the firing mechanisms must be removed to prevent accidents or misuse. In addition, citizens may be held criminally and financially responsible for their weapons; any illegal acts which may be perpetrated using said weapons, unless reported stolen in a timely fashion, are the responsibility of the owner.
Weapons may only be sold by local brick and mortar, licensed, registered businesses who are responsible for required licensing and background checks of purchasers. Weapons may be sold, purchased, or traded only through a the aforementioned dealers who act as intermediaries and verify that all legal requirements are met by both parties to the transaction. Weapons must be shipped to the intermediary and will be held there until all legal requirements are met, at which time, the purchaser will pay the intermediary, who will then transfer the weapon(s) and pay the seller, less a fee set by law. “Gun shows” are banned.
Section 7: No member of the national military, military reserve, National Guard, or any branch of law enforcement shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war or declared national, state, or local emergency, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Section 8: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, communications, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. Illegal searches and seizures will be treated as federal crimes with penalties set by Congress.
Communications can only be legally intercepted after authorization by a judge. Within 24 hours of that authorization, the warrant, along with the supporting documents/testimony of authorized law enforcement officers must be presented to a sitting Grand Jury in the jurisdiction where the communications are being intercepted. In the case of foreign communications, the government of said country is to be notified through official state department channels that a communication between someone in the United States and that country is being monitored. In cases of National Security, a standing committee of two Senators from different political parties, two members of the House of Representatives from different political parties, a Supreme Court Justice, and four citizens selected from a Grand Jury pool shall make the decision as to whether to grant permission to intercept or monitor electronic communications of any kind. Illegal wiretapping will be treated as a federal crime with penalties set by Congress.
No Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Such warrants shall only be issued by a proper committee consisting of three members, one of which is a sitting criminal court judge, two of which must be citizens chosen at random from the list of local, eligible, legally registered voters, the same lists used for jury duty.
Section 9: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the United States Military forces, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without a public hearing and only then if compensated with the market value of such property, unless it is subject to an existing lien, which must be paid in full before any compensation is paid to the property owner. Should the market value of the property in question be worth less than the lien, the lien holder shall be paid in full; the property owner would receive nothing and not be liable for the difference in value, and shall not be taxed for the presumed benefit gained by lien being paid in full.
Section 10: ” Enemy Combatants” shall be granted the same status and rights as a “prisoner of war.” All “prisoners of war” are to be accorded the protections of the Geneva Convention.
Torture of any kind is prohibited by this Constitution. Use of such methods shall cause the charges against any person to be invalidated and immediate release is required herein. Those responsible for inflicting torture are subject to federal prosecution with penalties set by Congress. One of those penalties shall be sending said convicted person(s) to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands for additional trial and punishment according to international law.
Section 11: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. All trials must begin with ninety days, except as postponed for medical considerations. Convicted defendants have two levels of appeal. The first appeal must be filed and heard by an appellate court within ninety days of the conviction. The second appeal, if needed is to the U.S. Supreme Court and must be filed and heard within ninety days of the Appeals Court decision. If the conviction is upheld, the sentence must be carried out within thirty days of the Supreme Court’s decision.
States have the right to organize their court systems as they choose, but the same appeals process is required. However, upon a conviction being upheld by a state Supreme Court, the only appeal left is to the U.S. Supreme Court. One of the Supreme Court Justices will read the appeal and decide within thirty days whether the entire court will hear the case. If accepted, the case is considered by the Justices as a whole, with a decision rendered within ninety days.
Section 12: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed five thousand dollars*, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
*Congress will adjust this amount every ten years according to inflation/deflation figures.
Section 13: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. The death penalty is not defined as cruel or unusual punishment for federal crimes. The condemned must be given a choice of either lethal injection or firing squad. If the condemned person chooses lethal injection, he/she must be placed under full anesthesia before lethal drugs are administered. If a firing squad is chosen, four of the seven members of the squad will have live ammunition to insure that death is as close to instantaneous as possible. States are to do the same, if the death penalty is used.
Section 14: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to its jurisdiction.
Section 15: No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any citizen or legal resident of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any citizen or legal resident within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 16: All citizens of the United States are protected and shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, income level, or previous condition of servitude. The exception to this are those citizens who are convicted of felonies, whether incarcerated or not. Their right to vote, own property, hold public office, and other rights as determined by Congress shall be forfeited for a period to be determined by Congress. In addition, anyone incarcerated is not entitled to receive any public assistance or Social Security payments while incarcerated. Reasonable medical care, food, shelter, clothing, humane treatment, and vocational training are to be provided by the state or federal unit in charge of the period of incarceration. Individuals must make application to restore those rights suspended once the period of suspension has ended.
Section 17: Lobbying, using independent representatives, regardless of paid or not, to attempt to inform or influence members of Congress or other government officials are prohibited. No business, community, or other organization shall have any more access or influence with public officials than an individual citizen. It is Congress’s duty to research potential legislation on its own, requesting information from whatever source as it deems necessary. “Influence peddling” is a crime and punishable by federal law, with Congress determining the penalties, which must include both fines and incarceration.
Section 17: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
(Note: Again, I understand that not everyone will agree 100 percent with this document. However, I believe that it is a good starting point for a revised Constitution, one which will eliminate many of the interpretive problems that we now face because we try to “read the minds of the original framers.”)