Proposed 28th Amendment

By way of Glenn Reynolds comes a proposed Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Frankly, I like the idea, particularly the part limiting the length and timing of Congressional sessions. While the original proposal came to Rich Vail via a reader's e-mail, he added a few touches of his own that I think would greatly increase our ability to rein in an irresponsible (and unresponsive) Congress.

I hereby propose the following as the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

1. -No citizen of the United States shall be elected to the House of Representatives to more than four (4) consecutive, two (2) year terms to office.
2. -No citizen of the United States shall be elected to the United States Senate for more than two (2) consecutive, six (6) year terms of office.
3. -No citizen of the United States shall receive any retirement benefits from serving in either the United States House of Representatives or the United States Senate.
4. -Congress shall not exempt itself from any laws of the United States of America, in whole or in part, nor shall any government agency, board, panel or appointed or elected group or person may exempt Congress, individually or collectively, from any law, regulation, policy or action which is applied to the citizens of the United States.
5. -Congress shall be in session for a period of not less than 60 consecutive days in the Spring, and 60 consecutive days in the Fall of each year. Each sitting of Congress may be extended by the President for a period not to exceed 15 days. The Spring session shall start on the first Monday of March. The Fall session shall begin on the first Monday in August. An additional 15 day session to begin on the 2nd Monday of November may be called by the President if so deemed necessary by declaration of a national emergency and voted so by a 2/3rds majority of the sitting Congress and may not be extended. {This section I think is necessary to basically force Congress to actually work...in the past decade they generally only spend 2 1/2 days per week actually working in Washington, DC. Most often only from Tues afternoon to Thurs afternoon!}

(I've changed the formatting slightly and deleted some sections that were struck out in Rich's original post, but those edits haven't changed his final version – dce)

As he notes in one of his updates, Rich thought the additional 15-day November session would limit the damage a lame duck Congress could do.

I do have a couple of questions, the first being whether by “days” he means calendar days or business days? I'd like to think he means calendar days as it would limit each session to 2 months (plus an additional two weeks if the President deems it necessary). If it's business days, then each session would be 3 months long with the possibility of an additional 3 weeks. That's too much time for Congress to get into mischief.

Second, might it not be easier to outlaw the use of heating and air conditioning in the Capitol Building and Congressional offices? No one is going to hang around Washington if they're freezing or roasting. (Okay, that might be taking it a little too far. But Washington was located where it is to encourage just such behavior by our Congresscritters.)

Another of Rich's readers suggested other Amendments, including limiting eminent domain such that the travesty of Kelo vs New London never happens again; limits on recess appointments and filibustering of nominees; actually reading the bills being voted upon; limiting the courts from meddling in foreign and military affairs, using foreign precedents, opinions, or laws in decision making on cases before them, and limiting the use of the 14th Amendment to provide benefits or other amenities to illegal aliens; and one of my favorites: banning Congress from ordering states to spend money raised by taxes within the states or to raise or enact taxes.

While each of these amendments would work towards throttling congressional or judicial overreach, the actual chances of any of them passing any time soon is slim despite the push by the American people to get government off their backs. But wouldn't it be nice?