The Constitution would be amended to abolish the right to bear arms, increase the power of the federal government, limit states’ rights and abolish the death penalty if retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had his way.
Stevens has published a book that contains a wish list of proposed constitutional amendments designed to limit freedoms and increase federal powers.
Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution outlines a series of amendments designed to impose a radical liberal agenda on the country. Like many Americans — including the conservatives demanding an Article V Convention — Stevens believes that government is ineffective and that radical changes to the Constitution are the only answer.
“It’s certainly not easy to get the Constitution amended, and perhaps that’s one flaw in the Constitution that I don’t mention in the book,” Stevens told USA Today. He said making it easier to amend the Constitution might be a good idea.
Stevens Wants To Abolish Second Amendment
The most contentious and radical change Stevens proposed would be to eliminate the Second Amendment’s right to gun ownership.
Specifically, Stevens wants the Second Amendment changed so that only a state’s militia (the police and the military) would have the right to bear arms. That would effectively restrict legal possession of firearms to employees of the government.
It would read: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.”
Stevens would also like to see a requirement for a federal background check for gun owners and a requirement that states share information about gun owners in a federal database, the Associated Press reported. The amendment would also allow Congress to ban gun ownership if it so chose.
“I’d think the chance of changing the Second Amendment is pretty remote,” Stevens told the AP. “[My] purpose is to cause further reflection over a period of time because it seems to me with ample time and ample reflection, people in the United States would come to the same conclusion that people in other countries have [about guns].”
Stevens Wants Power Of Federal Government Increased
Another of Stevens’ proposals would enable Congress to require states to perform “federal duties” in times of “national catastrophe.” Stevens told AP that this amendment could be used to force states to participate in federal gun control efforts such as a databases of gun owners.
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Among the other amendments Stevens proposed:
- An amendment that would eliminate states’ immunity from liability for violating the constitution or federal law. That would make it easier for people to sue state officials who violated their rights.
- An amendment that would allow Congress, state legislatures and voters in state elections to restrict campaign contributions.
- An amendment that requires districts for state legislators and the US House of Representatives to be compact and composed of contiguous territory. Stevens believes this would eliminate gerrymandering, the process in which politicians create “safe” districts where a majority of the voters are of their party.
- Changing the Eighth Amendment to define the death penalty as “cruel and unusual punishment,” thus making it unconstitutional.
Stevens served on the court for 35 years, from 1975 to 2010, when he retired at age 90.
“I’m not the kind of optimist that expects this all to happen in the next couple of years,” Stevens said of his proposals.
Under the current process it would take a vote of two-thirds of both chambers to propose an amendment and the approval of three-fourths of the nation’s state legislatures to amend the Constitution. The Constitution could also be amended at a so-called Article V convention – a Convention of States — if three-fourths of the state legislatures (34 states) asked for such a meeting.