The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


March 24, 2014

Our View: Amendment fever hits lawmakers

— Before elevating additional activity to a constitutional right, Missouri lawmakers may want to heed the advice of Robot B-9.

The robot, you may recall, was programmed to warn the stranded family of impending danger on the 1960s television program, “Lost in Space.”

Some lawmakers — in past sessions and, notably, during this session — perceive attacks on what they consider traditional behavior and activities.

A tendency has been to repel those attacks by enshrining specific activities and behaviors as constitutional rights.

A partial list of proposed constitutional amendments includes:

• A right to farm.

• A right to hunt and fish.

• A right to hold a rodeo.

• A right for parents to raise their children as they see fit.

Are these proposals a reasonable response to a real threat or an over-reaction fueled by paranoia?

Two factors aggravating this constitutional amendment fever, if we may call it that, are Proposition B and term limits.

Proposition B was an animal welfare law — not a constitutional amendment — approved by voters, but changed drastically by lawmakers before it became effective.

The action provided a compelling example of why a constitutional amendment is preferable; it is impervious to legislative tampering.

In addition, term limits fuel a tendency among lawmakers to pass measures with greater durability.

Perhaps it is political equivalent of the psychological longing to create something that continues after we’re gone.

The tendency to enshrine activity and behavior as a constitutional right, however, presents both short-term and long-term consequences.

The immediate concern is if a constitutional amendment permits abuse, the error cannot be rectified quickly.

The long-range consequence, as we wrote on Feb. 2, is: “If we continue on this inane path of continually amending the constitution, representative government eventually will become superfluous.”

A constitution is a framework for governing; it is not a law book or regulation manual.

To paraphrase Robot B-9: Danger, Missouri Legislature, danger!

— The Jefferson City News Tribune

Text Only
Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter

How do you plan to vote on Missouri's Amendment 5 on the Aug. 5 ballot?

A. For it.
B. Against it.
     View Results
NDN Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA