Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Protection of Suffrage

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article V, Section 1:   “The Congress … shall propose Amendments to this Constitution … Provided … that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”  This provision protects the equal representation of the states and equal voting rights in the Senate.

                “This is the provision which made the entire Constitution acceptable to the smaller states and will always be jealously guarded by the smaller states.
                “The great concern of the smaller states has always been the fear that the states with larger populations would use the strength of numbers to gradually consolidate all power in their hands….
                “Nevertheless, a recently proposed amendment to the Constitution which was actually passed by the Congress would have violated the substance of this clause.  It would have allowed the District of Columbia, which is really the city of Washington, to have two Senators and one Representative.  To give a city representation as though it were a state would certainly violate the `equal representation’ provision of this clause.  It also would have probably triggered an avalanche of requests form a number of other major cities demanding representation.”  (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 650.)

                Ralph Rossum of The Heritage Foundation explained that “Article V specifies the means by which the Constitution of the United States can be amended.  It ends by forbidding amendments that would repeal the language in Article I, Section 9, which prohibits a ban on the importation of slaves prior to 1808, or the language in Article I, Section 3, which provides for equal representation of the states in the Senate.  These are the only textually entrenched provisions of the Constitution.  The first prohibition was absolute but of limited duration – it was to be in force for only twenty years; the second was less absolute -- `no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate’ – but permanent….

                “This provision has been seldom invoked.  Most recently, it has been employed by those opposed to proposed constitutional amendments that would give the District of Columbia full representation in the Congress.  Their argument is that an amendment that would allow the District – a nonstate –to have two Senators would deprive the states of their equal suffrage in the Senate and would therefore require unanimous ratification by all the states.  Others have suggested that the provision would void a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority to pass tax increases.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 288.)

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