THE BLOG
10/19/2015 06:28 am ET Updated Oct 19, 2016

Amending the Constitution Could Curb Gridlock

Given where America has evolved, are we not due for constitutional convention to
amend our sacred document?

Under Article V of the Constitution, Congress and the states can introduce
amendments using different methods provided under that Article. The
congressional method has been the only method used to amend the
Constitution. Though states over the decades have attempted to amend
the Constitution, such efforts have proven unsuccessful.

Whether achieved by Congress or the states, there is always the underlying potential
of unintended consequences. Prohibition provides the best example of what can
happen when the Constitution is amended to address one problem, only to create
several more in the process.

Such an undertaking would obviously require judicious application. With that in mind
I offer several issues worthy of consideration for constitutional amendment.

President

The 22nd Amendment reads:

"No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no
person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than
two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be
elected to the office of the President more than once."

I would limit the presidency to a single 6-year term. He or she would be ineligible
for the next election, but I would not place barriers on running in the future.

There is a learning curve requirement for every commander in chief, some more than
others. Two years into the first term the president begins gearing up for
re-election.

The benefits of this amendment would be to give the president roughly four
consecutive years to govern without the pressure of re-election. The downside would
be that it would not insolate the president from the politics associated with
midterm elections.

Supreme Court

Article 3, Section 1 of the Constitution reads:

"The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices
during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a
compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office."

I would amend this to a 14-year term limit on Supreme Court Justices.

This change would not be to punish justices for any particular decision, but to
suggest that the current structure increases the possibility we could end up with a
Court that is out of step for decades with the larger scope of the society.

The average tenure for a justice has nearly doubled in recent decades, going from an
average of 14.9 years between 1789 and 1970 to 26.1 from 1970 to 2005. This amendment also carries the potential of selecting justices from a larger swath of society, instead of the current configuration, where all justices attended either Yale or Harvard law schools.

The downside is obviously losing key individuals prematurely.

House of Representatives

The most needed amendment in the House is to have redistricting taken away from
state legislators and placed in the control of select bipartisan coalitions
representing each state. The House has far too many "safe" seats, which diminishes the need for compromise or for representatives to take tough votes.

Moreover, the current debacle on the Republican side, where nobody wants to be the
next Speaker of the House, is reflective of the GOP's successful gerrymandering
tactics, which contributed to the largest Republican majority in the House since
Herbert Hoover was president.

Many have built districts of political monopolies that have created an atmosphere of
rebellion that makes governing difficult if not impossible.

The result is the next speaker must be adept at herding cats if he or she is to be
effective.

The ultimate downside to this list of hypothetical changes to the Constitution is
that it assumes men and women serving in the three branches of the federal
government are committed to doing the people's business.

For as much as society has moved forward, our democracy suffers from an acute form
of arrested development.

Compromise, once the hallmark of our democratic republic, now languishes
in solitary confinement with no possibility of parole. Falsehoods become facts if one is willing to double down by audaciously repeating them, methodically wearing down any opposition.

Before we can entertain any lofty notions of a constitutional convention, we must
address what truly ails the nation, which at present is an obstinate unwillingness
to govern.