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Use the scientific method to improve democracy.

When the USA was invented, it was a great experiment in democracy. Democracy is considered the best form of government.on Earth. I think we can do better, much better. The wisest aspect of the USA Constitution is the ability to amend it. Let us amend it to continue the experiment.

I would like some suggestions for a method, a process, for improving democracy. I am not so much interested in discussing specific improvements, but a PROCESS whereby improvements could be proposed, tried and evaluated. This process might take years or centuries.

I think one simple method would be a constitutional amendment that would allow localities to try different forms of government. Then people could choose by moving to the jurisdiction of their choice, or moving away. This might cause serious problems, with the the rich moving together and other areas left with no tax base. To some extent, this is already happening anyway.

What are your ideas?

  • Nov 27 2012: Excellent question Barry - By all measures of success the Swiss model of "direct democracy" is an experiment in democracy that has been evolving and improving over some 800 years. It is based on citizen generated initiatives and referendums that dynamically and continuously improve the constitution and legislation.

    In the US some 30 states have "direct democracy" provisions for initiatives and referendums, so we have potentially 50 experiments to look to in improving our federal government processes. The elephant entering the room in all of this is the internet, and there is much activity around the world using the internet for democracy.

    At the US federal level one must understand that the "political class" that sits atop everything likes things the way they are - ie only 28 of some 10,000 proposed constitutional amendments have ever beem ratified. For any changes to occur the case must be obvious and low risk, at least as viewed by the political elites. With this in mind here are the specifics of what I propose:

    "Directed Democracy" where a US Board of Directors presides over "advisory" federal initiatives and referendums (voting) conducted over the internet. Today our federal and state governments have election (voting) boards whose function is to monitor lobbying and election activity for fairness etc. I envision expanding the function somewhat to a true "Board" function which is to look at the strategic big picture using citizen input devoid of politics. Past US presidents would automatically belong to the Board. Other Board members would be elected at large to serve one single term, with the top vote getters winning election and inclusive therefore of third parties. Board members would be given "swing" voting rights in congress.
    Final comments:
    The internet will loom large in the future of democracy. Modern organizations run with a Board of Directors - should not our US government also have one- (ad hoc super committees don't seem to work)
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      Nov 27 2012: There are huge problems with the tyranny of democracy. Your idea would be a disaster.
      • Nov 28 2012: Maybe we should get rid of all prejudices and hate. Our government isn't perfect, no government will ever be, specifically one like ours, which bases its laws on our societies beliefs and ideals. As long as we the people are imperfect, our government will be too.

        But one thing is for sure, I would much rather live in an democratic country whose government is imperfect than a country that has a dictatorship in place. The fact that those people, however imperfect they may be, don’t have any say in any aspect of their life or their government is the true definition of Tyranny.

        So Pat, just be thankful that you live in a county that even allows you to voice your own ideas and opinions because there are places in this world where people our giving their lives just to get a piece of what we have here.
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          Nov 28 2012: A few more years and we will be those people in the world giving their lives to get a piece of what we once had.
      • Nov 28 2012: Ok, I didn't like Bush, at all, I thought we were going in the wrong direction. But he was my president, whether I like it or not he was elected by the people for the people. I still supported him and our country, its my duty as a citizen to and I believe my persona; my duty. I dislike it when people such as your self somehow think that because your guy didn't get in, the person who did is somehow not your president. Knock it off. It hurts our country and divides us as a people. Wait five years and see how we are doing, if were in WW3 or some awful mess, then maybe your on to something but until our current president does something bad as in more than half the nation feels that way then I support him as I have the presidents before. Ohh, and by the way, we are a nation of immigrants legal or not, that’s who we are, in the past, present, and future!
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          Nov 28 2012: What you like dislike or consider your duty is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

          Your ignorance and the ignorance of the majority is relevant and because of this I would not be surprised if this country is unrecognizable in 5 years. This level of ignorance is truly amazing.
      • Nov 28 2012: Who are you to judge the rest of us as ignorant based on your own beliefs? The truly ignorant people in this world are the ones who judge others but don’t consider what there judging. Our country needs real solutions, its hardly a solution to point to the other side and say, there the ignorant ones, this gets us nowhere. Why not, list your ideas, maybe you will find common ground.

        It would be wrong for me to assume that you think the other half doesn't want the best for this country. But whether you are Republican, Democrat or Independent, all of us wants what’s best, and name calling or general disregard for the others ideas wont get us there. And being pessimistic about our future is about the worst thing a person can do, because it means they have given up and have no reason to continue coming up with ideas or solutions to the problems they are being so pessimistic about.
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          Nov 28 2012: I'm just looking at facts.

          The simple math is that the current debt is 16 trillion dollars the GDP for one year is 15 trillion dollars.

          The current revenue through taxes is 2.5 trillion dollars per year

          The current borrowing is another 1.5 trillion dollars per year

          The unfunded liabilities are in excess of 100 trillion dollars.

          What are the odds of the country handling this without collapsing or turning into a dystopian state with a jack booted militia???

          In the last election some of the people that voted for Obama felt that social issues were more important than the above. Others that voted for Obama felt that there was a better chance of more jobs with Obama, despite 4 years of no jobs with the worst economy since FDR.

          Social issues will be moot if the country collapses. Basic economics indicates that Obama is doing exactly the wrong things to create jobs.

          None of this is my opinion.

          Have a nice day.
      • Dec 1 2012: Sorry for not answering right away. I have, however, come to a realization that this entire discussion is rather pointless. I mean who are we trying to convince, neither of us are going to change our views on this matter, and any one reading this could come to the same conclusion. So, no I am not going to counter your facts with my own, not because I do have them but because it would be pointless in doing so. I sincerely do hope you have a good life Pat and respect your position. I now realize that I could be doing a lot more at the local level in my community to help solve problems, and would rather spend my time working on them than continuing a discussion that’s pointless. Thank you for your time on this.
  • Nov 29 2012: Hi Barry.
    Your question is really interesting but I don't really understand how it could be carried out, because even if we collected a huge amount of data about different regimes and amendments locally tested, I don't think we would be able to use this information to distinguish an optimal democracy.The will of peoples with different cultures might be opposed and the measures which may look positive in a region may look negative in an other one. It seems immossible to evaluate some laws at a global scale. Moreover, the view and the role that the state should have in democracy is debatted and has to be, the answer is not absolute. Looking for a global process can't lead in my opinion to a good solution, because what characterizes democracy, is that, anything that concerns the people, the way the government rules, must always be up to discussion, and it can not happen if we consider a rigid model.
    Nevertheless, we must make democracy improve. We must learn from the mistakes that have been made before. And the very thought I have is that only education may allow the people to understand how our societies work, to get them interested in the challenges we have to face and so to have precise and clear ideas about the regime they want.
    • Nov 30 2012: I agree, looking for an "optimal democracy" would be foolhardy. Rigidity is the opposite of what I had in mind.

      I am just looking for a better PROCESS that would speed up the pace of IMPROVEMENT.

      With luck, we might find a process that could be applied in many different societies. A process that would be limited to the USA would still be useful.

      Your point about education is important. It is the basis of all forms of democracy. We must always be searching for improvements to education. I am hoping that we can find something more than just improving education.
  • Nov 27 2012: Can you be more specific? What problems do you see? Remember this is a tweek to the existing system - so you must see tyranny of democracy in the existing system. The Swiss certainly have quite the opposite of tyranny and have for years served as a melting pot and home for many minorities.
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      Nov 27 2012: I see this as a problem in the U.S. and the last election where the voters demonstrated a great deal of ignorance on the most important election in the history of the U.S.

      Switzerland may have better educated voters? I would tend to think so by virtue of the intelligence demonstrated regarding Swiss use of fire arms. Of which they have shown that with training it is a great tool. Voting requires the same degree of care regarding training. I think that in any system this side of Communism or a Dictatorship that has good education is preferable to a better system with out education.

      Switzerland does a lot of stuff right and more than the U.S. does right. My concern is the growth of government more than the type. In general I see Germany as a paradigm in training which overcomes the heavy regulations and taxes endemic to Socialism. What the U.S. lacks in training it makes up for in economic freedom, but this is changing.

      The other thing I wonder about is scalability, the U.S. is 40 times the population of the Swiss. The U.S. is all immigrants and a lot more than 8 million are non white. I would think this would be a lot different.
      • Nov 28 2012: Thanks for the prompt reply. The point you make about education is a very good one and that is why I have backed off a true 100% "direct democracy" in favor of "directed democracy" and "advisory" initiatives and referendums for the US. California is perhaps an example of where referendums can be gamed by big money spending lots of money on less than authentic signature drives and ads that manipulate the less discerning.
        There is a big misconception about the Swiss being homogeneous. Over the years they have struggled with and managed 3 different major languages, 2 major religions, and various diverse other minorities. The internet makes scalability a non problem
        Thanks again for your comments.
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          Nov 28 2012: The U.S. is a constitutional republic which by definition is a directed democracy.

          We have over 50 million Hispanics whom many use English as a second language. That is 6 times the entire population of your country of course this does not include the other ethnic cultures. I don't see the internet as a solution to scalability of a diverse population.

          A pertinent point is that the government did not interfere with the economy or many other things for the 1st 150 years of this country. Based on the results my thinking is the less goverment the better. The more education of the citizens the better.
  • Nov 27 2012: Gosh, have we never heard of captive agencies,political contributions, revolving doors in government , stupid state government, corporate bureaucracy, etc. ? Put in all the feedback loops. Did everyone in the conversation emerge fully grown, educated, and in Armor from a god with a headache's head. Even Eric Blair did not automatically put Big Brother in Government in 1984 - At that time a General would be a good choice.
    In the United States the big players vary from time to time. If we review Charles Mckay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds you might get a better understanding of our Bubbles and corporate propaganda. Your comments are scary Are you concerned about overreaching in corporate matters San
    Mateo Co... by the Supremes or do you miss slavery So much for Roscoe Conkling and the Fourtenth Amendment Remember that Senator Conkling the author of the 14th Amendment twice refused to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. He left the Senate to be a railroad lawyer. Maybe that shows where the power was at the time. He was not alone. Remember that misdirection is the key to magic. Look in a different direction for the real black hats. Propaganda doesn't work if it is obvious. Reread the Grapes of Wrath.
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    Gail .

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    Nov 26 2012: The problems have have evolved in the USA (and around the world) were given birth on March 7, 1819. That's the date that the Supreme Court, in a bloodless coup d'etat, threw out the constitution as the law of the land and replaced it with British Common Law. It decreed that the Constitution was a "guideline" that congress could violate whenever it deemed it necessary, whether or not it was truly necessary. It also authorized the implementation of "implied powers" that are clearly unconstitutional. It said that the people should not be included in silly decisions like the one before it.

    To see how useless a constitutional amendment would be B 4 fixing the core problem, look at our most recent (27th) amendment. Passed in 1992, it says that congress cannot give itself a raise unless an election shall have intervened. It took Congress 3 weeks to figure out a way around it. It declare that if it didn't give itself a cost of living adjustment, that they would be in violation of the amendment because they were intentionally using inflation to devalue the national debt. It took 3 months for the 9th District Court to declare that cost of living adjustments are not pay raises. Judge Sporkin said that those who brought suit were miscreants.

    Congress was furious when the Archivist recorded it without congressional approval. They intended to reject the amendment, but there was so much public hoopla about it, they were stopped in their tracks. Thus they were forced to find a way around it.

    The only way to reclaim OUR government is to re-ratify the 10th amendment, changing it to read "The powers not specifically delegated to the United States by the Constitution according to the intents of the ratifiers, nor prohibited by it to the States in accordance with the ratifiers intents, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    U aren't aware that until this decision, SOTUS did not have the right to do what it does today. It GAVE ITSELF the power.
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      Nov 26 2012: I don't disagree.

      But I don't see how just changing the 10th amendment will change much as the core of the problem is financial.

      You contradict yourself by stating how useless amendments can be but then reason that by changing the 10th amendment that this will somehow change?

      As indicated with the 27th amendment, we have to put a boot on the throat of the spending.
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        Gail .

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        Nov 27 2012: By re-ratifying the 10th, Congress will no longer have the ability to deny our amendments. It may not designate a legal entity as a human. It may not spend on anything not authorized by the Constitution - and those things are few indeed. We cannot get involved in wars (including military actions) without a congressional "declaration of war" - unless treaties are used to circumvent the process - which happens too often.. But when we reclaim our power, we can change that. SOTUS can't make law because ALL legislative power belongs to Congress. The Fed. Reserve is gone. So much has happened, but Americans are functionally uneducated

        It will work if enough people understand the history of and content of our Constitution as well as American history. The key is mentioning that any interpretation is to be in accordance with the intents of the ratifiers. As we were taught provable lies in our compulsory educations, this may be a tough sell. (I wold also consider attempts and acts that undermine the Constitution as it was intended to be understood should be considered an act of treason)

        It will not work today because too many Americans are so functionally uneducated that they do not understand how government was supposed to work - according to the intents of our founding fathers - who were not the Federalists, but were the anti-federalists, who risked life and limb fighting for freedom (as opposed to hiding behind the safety that their wealth afforded them).
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          Nov 27 2012: I agree 110% about education.

          But what you say regarding the finance would not be resolved. Just look at the signing agreements and the agencies created by the POTUS.

          It seems odd to me that federalism is defined by what anti federalists espouse? that seems ironic.
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        Gail .

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        Nov 27 2012: But Pat, can you find a single place in the constitution that authorizes the president to implement executive orders? Furthermore, agencies are created by congress, not POTUS. Congress also funds them. If congress doesn't like an agency, it can defund. That is its role.
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          Nov 27 2012: That is my point it is not in the constitution. I may be wrong on this but I thought the POTUS creates agencies as well, unconstitutional of course. After what I have seen with Obamacare and Frank-Dodd and how incestuous Congress and the POTUS are maybe it just appears that way?

          In any case I agree the cure for the malignancy is chemotherapy which is the financing of, in which case all of the ideologies come to a grinding halt.

          Again it is about education starting with we do not work for them they work for us. We need to be better bosses and make them do their work and hang the ones who cheat in other words a slap on the wrist would be jail time. After all this treason.
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        Gail .

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        Nov 27 2012: It is rather ironic that Republicans stand for Federalism that stands for an all-powerful central government while claiming to want state's rights. You mis-state when you say that federalism is defined by what anti-federalists espouse. The two could not be further apart.
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          Nov 27 2012: In case you think I'm a Republican, I'm a Libertarian and have been registered so for about 35 years.

          My take on conservatives is that they are about freedom and not centralized government AT ALL. Your take on this could not be more wrong. If anything the Democrats are about centralized government or as my lovely sister in law says "you can't convince me that more government isn't good"



          a. A system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units.

          from here:

          http://www.thefreedictionary.com/federalism
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        Gail .

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        Nov 27 2012: You may be a registered Libertarian, but your views are anything but Libertairan.
        1. Libertarians were soundly against Mitt Romney. You were very much pro & a strong advocate of Paul Ryan, whom Libertarians were also against.
        2. Libertarians stand for individual rights and the right to own one's body. You are anti-abortion
        3. Libertarians stand for equal rights for GLBTs. I have not seen your position on the matter, but knowing that you are a fundamentalist christian, I could make a guess that you disagree. Furthermore, Libertarians are for equality and you have called equality "crap:
        4. Libertarians stand for legalizing drugs & let U make ur own choices. You're against.
        5. Libertarians don't want to be policemen of the world. Your freeting about Benhazi says you disagree. You have also called for less military at the same time you called for more military spending.
        6. Libertarians want a free-market economy. You want subsidies for the wealthiest (individuals and corporations) because you errantly believe that they are job creators.
        7. Libertarians are pro-environment. You are not.

        The list is longer, but you were devastated at Romney's loss and furious that people voted for him based on "social issues" rather than fiscal ones. The Libertarians prime directive is to protect individual rights. That's a social issue. That's why I have voted Libertarian in every election since 1980 except this one, where I wanted my voice for the right to own my own body to be heard loud and clear, and not hidden in any 1% statistics of those on the fringes.

        You are not a conservative. You are a fiscal conservative. Very big difference. Lots of democrats are fiscal conservatives and social liberals. They're called "Blue Dog Democrats". Another group who are fiscal conservatives and social liberals (keep your god out of government) are Libertarians.
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          Nov 27 2012: Damn now I have change most of my values...

          1 I would have been in 7th heaven if Ron Paul would have won, I went with Romney (not even on my short list) because he was the lesser of 2 evils.

          2 Libertarians view abortion from both points of view. I choose right to life.

          3 I could not care less. I'm not a christian. I'm against equality (economic equality) at the expense of freedom and economic mobility

          4 I could not care less, if were up to me I would legalize mota, it is less harmful than alcohol.

          5 The U.S. does have to defend itself, I would like to see less military spending. Benghazi does not pass the smell test, my BS detector is sounding.

          6 I talk about the free market in most of my posts, if my short list is 1 item it is the free market. Again you ignorance of economics shows up.

          7. I'm for what ever raises the standard of living of life. The environmentalist stuff has swung way too far.

          Economic issues raise individual's standard of living, rights, and life more than any other aspect of the world, otherwise we would be communicating by smoke signals.

          I am a Libertarian and a Conservative, after 35 years there is an outside chance that I know as much about it as you?
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        Gail .

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        Nov 29 2012: Libertarians do not take a stand on abortion. It gives you the right to be anti-abortion, but it denies government on any level to interfere in any way. Why? Because it defends individual liberties for everyone - not just men. If a woman wants to enslave herself to some undifferentiated cells or a fetus that cannot live independently from her, then that's her choice. But if a woman prefers freedom to slavery, Libertarians defend individual freedoms.

        You recently discovered the truth about the Fed Reserve, and have only begun to learn about it and money, but I, who have spent years studying various economic/fiscal models and their relationship to the social order, am ignorant because I know more than you? Really?

        You do talk about free markets, but you also talk about tax incentives for the few that you (falsely) consider the job creators. That's not a free market by any definition. The Libertarian Platform is against your view.

        The Libertarian party stands for caring for the environment.

        You appear not to have even read the Libertarian Party platform. You may think that you are a Libertarian, and may even be sending them money, but if you don't know what a Libertarian is, how can you be so sure that you are one? (Rhetorical question - no answer necessary because your post has already given me the answer.)
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          Nov 29 2012: Where do I talk about tax incentives? Everything I have said on TED is available to you.

          I have stated that lower taxes are a liberty that are antithetical to Socialism.

          Are you in favor of third trimester abortions? I don't think that human life begins at the stem cell stage on the other hand 3rd trimester abortions are murder.

          Libertarian are against government interference in the environment.

          I have known about the intricacies of the Fed for decades.

          Party affiliation should give you a clue about my awareness of economics.

          What I am saying is that you are ignorant about economics.

          You did learn me some stuff about the anti-federalists and I thank you for that.
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    Nov 26 2012: I am a little confused on how your idea of make more amendments would help anything ... the current administration avoids the present Constitution and implements all ideas through Executive Orders thus avoiding both the Constitution and Congress.

    My opinion is to start using the Constitution we have and return to a Constitutional government. Congress should never fund anything that does not have Congressional vote of approval. If this does not occur then "WE THE PEOPLE" have been eleminated from the process.
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      Gail .

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      Nov 26 2012: To accomplish this, we merely need to re-ratify the 10th amendment, adding a clause - according to the intents of the ratifiers. In spite of our political disagreements, I would happily participate in a movement that supported this simple fix.
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    Nov 25 2012: It is tough to avoid mentioning specific improvements. Perhaps we should get a tune-up before we replace the whole drive train. With apology here are 12 specific improvements that might make a constitutional correction unnecessary:
    1) Repeal Obamacare; Pursue Patient-Centered Care
    2) Stop the Tax Hikes
    3) Reverse Obama’s Spending Increases
    4) Scrap the Code; Replace It with a Flat Tax
    5) Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment
    6) Reject Cap and Trade
    7) Rein in the EPA
    8 ) Unleash America’s Vast Energy Potential
    9) Eliminate the Department of Education
    10) Reduce the Bloated Federal Workforce
    11) Curtail Excessive Federal Regulation
    12) Audit the Fed
    (Some TEDsters might recognize the list which I borrowed.)
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      Nov 26 2012: Fast Eddy again with the ignoring what the OP requested?

      13) Repeal the 17th amendment
      14) Repeal the 13th amendment
      15)
      16) Real the provision in the 14th amendment that makes anchor babies legal citizens
      17) Repeal the Federal Reserve
      18) Render illegal any executive orders that circumvent congress
      19) Make all the alphabet soup agencies state responsibilities and curtail all the funding associated with them
      20) Return to the gold standard
      21) NO one can vote without passing a test to demonstrate core competancy about economic and political issues or they have to have skin in the game your choice.
      22) Start a national campaign to educate the public on economics
      23) The United States is not a democracy, if you don't know this the first thing you need to do is to find out that the United States is a Republic, a special kind of Republic, before you can say anything about changes, including that as per the Constitution the States have the right to Secede.
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        Nov 26 2012: I already apologized.
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        Nov 26 2012: "...per the Constitution the States have the right to Secede."

        Sorry, but that's just not true. Otherwise please quote the Article and Section.
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          Nov 26 2012: The 10th amendment.
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          Gail .

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          Nov 26 2012: Lawren - if you will go to the Avalon Project and look at the articles of ratification of the constitution - by VA, NY, NH, MA, RI, and CT - you will see that the constitution's ratification was conditional. Had it not been for a guarantee of the Bill of Rights - including the 10th amendment - there would have been no Constitution. We would still be operating under the Articles of Confederation. You are unaware of this country's actual history. This is not surprising given the outright lies that Americans are taught in their compulsory educations.

          Begin here: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/ratva.asp
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        Nov 26 2012: Most legal opinions I've read do not allow secession rights according to the 10th amendment, and you can hardly claim that such is obvious in the text.
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          Gail .

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          Nov 26 2012: The legal opinions you have read are based on British Common Law that became the law of the land during a SOTUS-initiated coup d'etat. (Mc Culloch v. Maryland). Until then, states DID have the right to secede and until that dark day, states were sovereign nations.

          March 7, 1819 is the day that we lost our Constitutional Republic and "These United States" (a treaty organization) became "The United States" (a nation established and ruled by SOTUS). March 7, 1819 should be a day of mourning for all Americans until we are heard.
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        Gail .

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        Nov 26 2012: Pat,
        Are you aware that the congressional record shows that the 14th amendment specifically excludes anchor babies from claiming citizenship? It was discussed in detail. The Supreme Court changed its known and intended meaning.

        You could fix most of what you want fixed if you were to re-ratify the 10 amendment as I stated above, so that any interpretation will be according to the intent of the ratifiers.

        As to the 15th -- I am aware of Republican's desire for voter suppression, but I am astounded that anyone would suggest repealing this important amendment that prevents the fed or the states from denying blacks the right to vote . WOW! I mean, really, WOW!!!!! I'm surprised to find you here at TED. Wouldn't you feel more comfortable in the Aryan Nations sites?
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          Nov 26 2012: Regarding the 14th amendment I'm not aware. Do you have a link?

          I did not mean the 15th amendment, I edited the post.
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        Gail .

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        Nov 27 2012: The Congressional record is shown in image form, and takes extreme patience to sift through unsearchable pages of verbiage. You can search for this yourself. Otherwise, I offer only a quote from the one who proposed the amendment in the first place, and who assured congress that limits were built in.

        Before its ratification in 1868, Michigan's Senator Jacob Howard, author of the citizenship clause, made the intent crystal clear to the Senate:

        "Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country." ."

        People are quick to read "born in the US", but are just as quick to ignore "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof". The example used in the Congressional Record uses an indian woman who leaves her reservation (which was a foreign nation) and gives birth. The child is not a citizen because the mother is subject to the jurisdiction of her tribe, thus is her infant.

        Even if this were still accepted today, congress does have the right to modify the terms of naturallization - even to the point of simply establishing residency in the US - which can be as little as 1 day in some states. Still, Congress, not the supreme court, should be legislating terms of citizenship because The Constitution states that ALL legislative power is rested in the Congress.
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          Nov 27 2012: Senator Howard's intent is not part of the text of the amendment.

          It is extremely ambiguous what the antecedent of thereof is.

          The background is that the amendment's purpose was to grant citizenship to former slaves.
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        Gail .

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        Nov 27 2012: If the ambiguity that you mention is true, why did indians not achieve citizenship until congress granted it - even when the Indian was born on American soil? The amendment was UNDERSTOOD to exclude them, even though it did not explicitly do so.

        Senator Howard is the author of the amendment as well as the explanation of intent in the congressional record, as he was being questioned about it at the time. Clear intent is known. It is only with some justices that intent is rendered meaningless (Scalia, for example)
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          Nov 27 2012: Scalia is a textualist for the very reason you mention earlier in this thread regarding the SCOTUS making policy rather than interpreting it.

          Why not just make the amendment clear in the first place?

          Why does it get interpreted to allow the opposite of what you are saying as with the ruling of United States v. Wong Kim Ark?

          BTW the United States is lucky to have Scalia.