The Third Constitution of the United States
Latest Revision, September 7, 2012
We the People of the United States establish this Third Constitution of the United States of America to promote human rights, social justice, ecological wisdom, democracy, and peace and happiness for the citizens of our country and ultimately to all citizens of the world. (The first U.S. government was under the Articles of Confederation. The second was implemented with the presidency of George Washington in 1789, and this is the third.)
An Overview of the Third Constitution of the United States
Under this Third Constitution of the United States, there will be 435 federal legislators (the same number that was in the House of Representatives under the previous government), based on districts (including Washington D.C.) of equal population. The election of members of the House of Representatives will be based on the system of Proportional Representation.
Here is how Proportional Representation can work hypothetically: Voters in federal legislative districts will study and evaluate the platforms and constitutions of the seven largest national political parties. Each voter will choose one of seven political parties that he or she most identifies with. Let us say that based on the latest election, the new federal legislature will be 20 percent Republican, 20 percent Democratic, 15 percent Libertarian, 15 percent Constitution Party, 15 percent Green Party, eight percent Socialist, and seven percent Communist.
The United States Senate, which existed under the former government, has been eliminated, which means the new one-house legislature will have 100 fewer federal legislators; it will thus be a legislature that is unicameral, not bicameral. All federal legislation, in the one-chambered Congress, must be passed with a 51 percent majority.
This Third Constitution is far more democratic than the previous constitution, and it is much shorter and easier to understand. It takes all money out of politics; it reduces Supreme Court terms of office to nine years, and allows Congress, not the president, to pick Supreme Court judges, using the method of Instant Runoff Voting. This Third Constitution also eliminates the previous Electoral College System for electing a president of the United States, choosing instead to elect the presidential candidate who gets at least a 51 percent majority using the method of Instant Runoff Voting. The Third Constitution promotes honesty and transparency at all levels of government. Average Americans will now feel empowered to engage in political thinking on a daily basis. Citizenship will be supremely valued, as never before. This constitution can and should be studied by elementary students.
Here is how Instant Runoff Voting can occur: Let us say there are seven candidates in a race, candidates Anthony, Bertha, Connie, Dawn, Ernie, Frank, and Gertrude. Voters will rank their top three choices from most favorite to least favorite. In the final round of counting, one of the seven candidates must get at least 51 percent of the vote to win. At the first count of all the voters’ first choices, Anthony got 30 percent, Bertha 30 percent, Connie 20 percent, Dawn 10 percent, Ernie five percent, Frank three percent, and Gertrude two percent.
The last four candidates above cannot possibly win and are eliminated. But the voters who chose the last four persons as their first choices will get to have either their second or third choices counted as their newly designated first choices before the second round of counting begins. If their second choice was also eliminated as a result of the first count, then their third choice can count as a first choice vote.
At the end of the second round of voting, 38 percent of the voters chose Anthony as their first choice, 37 percent chose Bertha, and 25 percent chose Connie. But when the second choices (or third choices) of the voters who chose Connie as their first choice were redistributed among the top two contenders, it turns out that after the third count, Bertha got a majority of 52 percent of the votes, compared to Anthony’s 48 percent. So Bertha is the winner. However, in another scenario, if 51 percent of the voters (which is a majority) had originally chosen Connie as their first choice, then no further rounds of counting would be necessary.
The second constitution was based on a system of plurality. Thus, in a close race between three candidates, for example, candidate Anthony could win with 31 percent of the vote, against Bertha’s 30 percent, and Connie’s 29 percent. That means that, under a system of plurality, a candidate could win with 59 percent of the voters voting against him or her. With Instant Runoff Voting, on the other hand, a candidate cannot win unless he or she has attained a majority of the votes; it is therefore more fair. Under the previous anti-majoritarian Electoral College System, a presidential candidate who got the most votes could still lose the election, which actually happened more than once.
Under the Third Constitution, there will be a National Elections Commission that will guarantee impartial election officials. Election administrators will be professionalized. There will be a voter-verified, paper audit trail produced by standardized voting equipment. Voting will be held on weekends. Polling places will be monitored by international and nonpartisan election observers when necessary.
Antitrust laws will be enforced to break up media conglomerates. Cable TV monopolies will be broken. The Fairness Doctrine will be restored. Public radio and public television will have board members who represent the top seven political parties of a region. Free media time and public financing will be offered to candidates of the top seven political parties. Micro-radio (or low-powered radio stations) will be supported in each community. There will be no censorship of the Internet.
Many of the democratic reforms of this Third Constitution have been endorsed by constitutional scholars. But to implement all of the reforms through separate constitutional amendments added to the second constitution could have taken several decades. Under this Third Constitution, which can level the playing field for seven political parties, elitists who are mistrustful of too much democracy will now have an equal opportunity, not an unfair advantage, to express their beliefs.
- We the people have a right to change our federal government easily through amendments added to this Third Constitution, and we also have a right to make an entirely new constitution fairly easily, which would then be the basis for a fourth federal or national government.
- All individuals have freedom to speak and write about their personal, political, and spiritual beliefs. They may worship God through the religion of their choice, or they may choose ethical behavior or spiritual disciplines not based on any religion.
- Government has powers granted to it as determined by the people’s democratic decision making. Government protects the human rights of each individual. The government represents the collective will of the people, as that government is developed through the democratic process.
- Individual citizens have a right to keep and bear arms.
- Government authorities must have a probable cause to search our homes, cars, or any other property.
- Property owners are entitled to a generous compensation if through eminent domain the government needs to seize the property for a higher, socially justifiable purpose, such as necessary road construction, for example.
- No person shall be tried for a serious crime unless there is a Grand Jury indictment that states valid reasons for the upcoming court trial.
- No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property unless there is due process (or fair procedures) in carrying out the law.
- In all criminal cases and prosecutions:
- The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury in the district where the crime was committed.
- The accused must be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.
- The accused has a right to a counselor who may or may not be an attorney. The accused, or a counselor of the accused, may confront (or cross examine) all witnesses testifying against him or her.
- The accused may require witnesses to testify if the witnesses have important information to share in the case.
- Unless it is a minor charge (or a misdemeanor), citizens have a right to a trial by jury. Juries may determine a person’s guilt or innocence, and if a person is found guilty, the jury may determine the sentence of the accused, as advised by the judge.
- Excessive bail shall not be required of a person, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.
- What consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes or bedrooms that does not infringe on the property or the rights of others should not be the concern of government. Thus, individuals have a right to privacy.
- Citizens may choose where they want to live. Citizens may also visit any country they choose, including Cuba. If they choose to move to another country, they will not be dispossessed of their personal assets by our government.
ARTICLE I: The Legislative Branch of the Federal Government
All federal legislative powers shall be granted to the Federal Congress of the United States, which shall be a unicameral body consisting of Federal Representatives, also called Federal Legislators. There will be 435 separate congressional districts in the United States based on equal population. The residents of Washington D.C. will now have representation in the Federal Congress. Congress members will be elected based on the system of Proportional Representation. The Congress must pass bills with at least a 51 percent majority.
For several years, many Americans had become alienated by government leaders who did not respond to their real needs. A government that can change or adjust quickly in an orderly fashion is better than a government that is too cumbersome and slow to make improvements. For these reasons, a unicameral legislature, based on a system of Proportional Representation, is the best way to expose American voters to a wider spectrum of political viewpoints, which the former two-party-system monopoly, under the second U.S. Constitution, prevented deliberately.
All Federal Representatives of the United States Congress will be chosen for four-year periods that coincide with presidential terms of office.
Each state will have at least one Federal Representative. The District of Columbia will also have Federal Representation based on its population.
When vacancies in the Federal Congress occur because of sickness, death, or resignation, the residents of the pertaining district can vote for a new Federal Legislator.
The Federal Representatives shall elect one of their own members to be the Speaker of the House at the start of every new term, based on the Instant Runoff Voting method. This Speaker of the House shall choose the Chair Persons for the established committees. The Chair Persons, in turn, shall select a diverse group of committee members.
The Representatives will be allowed to try, impeach, and remove any high-level federal officer in the legislature, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government. Any officer impeached is also liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment, according to the law.
The supervision of federal government elections shall be done by the counties in each state. Since the method of registering voters and counting votes should be uniform throughout the country, the Federal Representatives shall elect a National Elections Commission every four years to ensure that our elections are fair and honest.
The Congress will first assemble the third Monday in January of every year. Members of Congress do not have to be present at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. to vote on bills, unless the Speaker of the Congress deems it necessary. All such debates will be televised for public viewing, so that citizens can be equally informed as lawmakers on all the issues. All bills must be written by elected members of Congress, not lobbyists. All bills must deal with one issue only. Every lawmaker must read every bill in its entirety.
The best arguments for and against a bill must be expressed in writing from opposing political parties, and they must be made available to the public at least two weeks before there is a vote on a bill. Citizens of a district may electronically register their vote on a particular bill, and Federal Representatives should wisely consider input from their constituents. The results of all citizens input on every bill must be made public.
Representatives who do not abide by the will of their constituents may be replaced during their term of office if 67 percent of the constituents have voted that the representative should be removed. In that case, the residents of the pertaining federal district can vote for a replacement.
The salaries of Federal Legislators will be five times the federal minimum wage, based on a 40-hour work week. Legislators cannot accept from corporate lobbyists any money, gifts, or fringe benefits at any time before, during, or after their tenure in office. Such money or gifts would bias their opinion on an issue.
Once Congress passes a bill, it shall be sent to the president for approval. If the president disapproves a bill, he or she can veto it, or lines of it, within seven days. However, a 60 percent majority in the House can overrule the President and make the law official against the president’s wishes.
Congress must balance every budget and not engage in deficit spending,
unless there is a national emergency deemed by the president.
In all elections of Federal Legislators, the seven largest national political parties (based on registered memberships) will have the same requirements, privileges, media access, and public financing as Republicans and Democrats had under the former government.
For example, if Indiana has 10 federal legislative districts based on the latest national census, let us pretend, for pedagogical purposes, that the seven largest national political parties are the ones mentioned in this document’s description of Proportional Representation. Let us pretend, again for pedagogical purposes, that Indiana elected four Republicans, three Democrats, one Libertarian, one Constitutional Party legislator, and one Green Party legislator. Those 10 federal legislators must live in Indiana and be chosen by their respective state political party primaries.
Federal legislators may be elected for more than one term to provide continuity and experience in government.
Paid political campaign advertising (which usually consists of mere sound bites) on television and radio stations will not be allowed.
ARTICLE II: The Executive Branch of the Federal Government
Executive power shall be invested in a president of the United States. His or her term of office will be four years, the same four-year-period in which Federal Legislators are elected. The president will choose a Vice President who will serve in the president’s absence.
Presidents will be selected through the Instant Runoff Voting method. The seven largest national political parties will have primaries beforehand in order to pick a presidential candidate. Presidential voting should occur over a weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to make it more convenient for voters. Presidential debates must include all of the top seven political parties. In early stages of the official debate, any national political party that has at least one percent of the eligible voters has a right to share its viewpoints.
If a president resigns, dies, is impeached, or is unable to hold the office, then the vice president will replace him. If the vice president is unable to serve at that time, the order of succession will be the Speaker of the House and then the Secretary of State.
The president’s salary shall be seven times the federal minimum wage. The president cannot accept money, expensive gifts, or fringe benefits from citizens or corporate lobbyists before, during, or after his or her term of office. Such money or gifts would bias his or her decisions.
The president shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States and also of the National Guard of each state. The President cannot execute troops on a moment’s notice unless there is a national emergency.
The president cannot make a declaration of war, unless 60 percent of the Federal Congress approves. All past executive orders or presidential directives made by presidents must be fully disclosed, simplified, and clarified. Then they must be re-written by Congress and approved by a majority of the Congress. It will now be considered unconstitutional for a President to implement executive orders or presidential directives, unless the members of the Federal Congress have examined, rewritten, and approved them beforehand with a 51 percent majority. Then they can be added to the federal statutes and summarized for the American people.
ARTICLE III: The Judicial Branch of the Federal Government
The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in a Supreme Court, which shall consist of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Judges. The nine Supreme Court Justices will vote to choose their own Chief Justice among themselves, using the method of Instant Runoff Voting, every three years or sooner if a Chief Justice leaves office. Supreme Court Justices will serve for nine-year-terms and will be chosen by Congress when a vacancy occurs using the Instant Runoff Voting method. Supreme Court Justices under the previous Constitution may remain in office if they have not yet served nine years. The Congress may remove any Supreme Court Justice at any time with a 60 percent majority vote. Supreme Court Justices may serve more than one term.
Currently there are over 850 federal judgeships in the United States. A term of office for a Federal judge will be four years. County legislatures will elect Federal judges using the Instant Runoff Voting method. Federal judges may serve more than one term in their district. Federal judges not assigned to a particular state will be selected by the Federal Congress. Federal judges may be impeached and removed by the legislative body responsible for selecting them with a 60 percent majority vote. There will continue to be two distinct federal and state judicial systems as before.
In addition to the 12 Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal based on geographical areas, there will also be, as previously established, The Court of Appeals for the Thirteenth Circuit, which will have national appellate jurisdiction over certain types of cases, such as those involving patent law and those in which the United States is a defendant. The Court of International Trade, The Court of Federal Claims, and similar courts may appeal to this Thirteenth Circuit Court as they did under the previous federal government.
Most of the time the Supreme Court will work as an appellate court, but in some cases, when it chooses, it may exercise original jurisdiction which means it can act as a trial court if, for example, a state is a party, or in matters concerning foreign diplomats.
The federal Supreme Court also can review and cancel State Supreme Court decisions and state laws if the federal Constitution is violated.
States cannot be sued in federal courts by a foreign country. Every individual shall have equal justice under the law. Supreme Court decisions can be abolished when 60 percent of the Federal Congress disapproves.
The Supreme Court may make modifications in the structure of the federal court system. Its job is to make judgments based on the Constitution and federal statutes, not to change or make new laws. Congress, however, will determine how much of the federal budget is needed to finance the federal court system.
Every individual must do what he or she promises to do by contract. An important role of the judiciary is to determine that legal contracts are honored.
Government officials will not have immunity from prosecution while they are in office.
ARTICLE IV: States Desiring to Withdraw from the Country
A state cannot withdraw, or secede, from the rulings and protections of the United States government according to the guidelines of this Third Constitution. Too many problems would occur if various states started becoming sovereign nations.
ARTICLE V: Federal Protection of the States
Only Congress has the power to admit new states that desire to be united with our country. If one of the United States protectorates desires sovereignty, Congress will grant it because the days of colonialism are over. The federal government must protect the people of the states when there is an attack by foreigners, or if and when the state governor deems that its National Guard cannot handle an emergency situation.
ARTICLE VI: The National Debt Problem
The national debt could be paid off in 10 years, largely through a 75 percent reduction in military spending and a progressive income tax that can ultimately reach 90 percent. When nations repeatedly have annual deficits, it causes the national debt to skyrocket, which then puts a large burden on the taxpayers of future generations. This Article is a recommendation, not a requirement.
ARTICLE VII: The National Census
The U.S. Census will continue to be taken every ten years. Accurate statistics enable the government, private companies, and individuals to have a better understanding of the nation’s demographics, which then promotes better planning.
ARTICLE VIII: Approving Corporate Charters
County or municipal governments have the right to approve or revoke corporate charters and to impose taxes on corporations operating within their boundaries. They may revoke the charters of any private corporation in their districts if they determine that a particular corporation does not serve the community or benefit the environment.
A corporation is not a natural person and should not have the same rights as a natural person. A corporation cannot make financial contributions to any local, state, or federal government election campaign. A state government can also revoke a corporate charter if it considers that a company is detrimental to surrounding counties within the state.
ARTICLE IX: An Alternative to the Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve System of fractional reserve banking must be eliminated. Banks will no longer be able to lend money that they do not have, and they will be controlled by the U.S. Treasury, which shall be organized, supervised, and audited by the U.S. Congress. Instead of private banks making money by providing loans, the government will provide public banks and local credit unions to raise public revenues and develop local communities.
ARTICLE X: The Primary Role of Government
The primary role of government is the protection of its citizens. Actions such as, murder, rape, robbery, pollution, theft, embezzlement, fraud, arson, kidnapping, battery, trespassing, harassment, and nuisance violate the right of others. The government should investigate, prevent, and have consequences for these types of illicit or illegal actions.
ARTICLE XI: The Need for Habeas Corpus
Habeas Corpus is a concept of law in which a person may not be detained by the government unless the government has a valid reason for putting the person in jail or prison. Even in a national emergency, the right to Habeas Corpus should not be violated. Prisoners of war or alleged terrorists, foreign and domestic, must be given a fair trial.
ARTICLE XII: The Need for Social Security
The national Social Security program will not be cancelled. Some American citizens (because their employers did not offer pensions, or because of misfortune or unwise financial planning) will need monthly Social Security payments (money that they themselves paid into Social Security throughout their entire working history) in order to survive financially in their old age.
ARTICLE XIII: Decentralizing Elements of the Federal
The budgets of some current federal departments and agencies could be reduced, as state, county, township, and precinct levels of government are given more autonomy and local self-reliance. Responsible individuals and local communities in a free society are encouraged to make their own choices, as long as other individuals and communities are not harmed in the process.
Article XIV: Keeping the Best of the Former Government
This Third Constitution does not attempt to totally eradicate the federal government under the previous Constitution, with all its former federal statutes and protocols. Old policies, statutes, regulations, and protocols can be changed as needed to reflect the new mood and philosophy of our day.
ARTICLE XV: A New Era of Honesty and Transparency
The wealth of individuals and of corporations must not be used to influence the political decision-making of voters. A new era of openness, honesty, and transparency in government, private business, the media, and in our interpersonal relationships is vital to our well-being.
Income tax laws should be simplified in ways that do not allow clever people to cheat the government.
ARTICLE XVII: How this Third Constitution Can Be Modified, or Amended, and How It Can Be Abolished When a Fourth Constitution Is Desired.
The United States government can be modified or changed through amendments added to the Third Constitution. It can also be changed when Congress passes new federal laws. But to change the federal government completely and to abolish this Third Constitution, there has to be a Constitutional Convention to rewrite a new constitution.
To change the federal government by merely adding amendments to the Third Constitution, the United States Congress must pass any proposed amendment to the Third Constitution with a 60 percent majority. Ratification by state legislatures is not required as it was under the second constitution.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. As mentioned in the first paragraph of this Article, a radically new constitution and government can be formed through a Constitutional Convention. It can be achieved in a fair, orderly, and nonviolent way. The American people have a right to make a new constitution, through their chosen representatives, and they have a right to approve or ratify a newly proposed constitution. Therefore, the decision to create a new supreme civil document will be considered by the American people at every presidential election.
If at least 60 percent of the American voters request a Constitutional Convention at the time a new president is elected, then every citizen eligible to vote for a U.S. president shall register with a national political party. Websites such as www.politics1.com have comprehensive directories of U.S. political parties, so that citizens can study the platforms and political philosophies of various political parties.
The Constitutional Convention will start meeting the first Tuesday in November, approximately one year after the previous presidential election. The Constitutional Convention delegates will meet at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. There will be 435 delegates chosen from the federal legislative districts using the system of Proportional Representation. Delegates must live in the states they represent. The delegates will choose within 30 days one of their own attending delegates to be the Chair Person of the Constitutional Convention, based on a system of Instant Runoff voting.
Formal discussions and debates of the Convention will use parliamentary procedure, and delegates will strive for consensus decision-making. The spoken and written words of the delegates must be publicized, and citizens will be allowed to voice their own opinions in the process.
The Convention delegates will work on several revisions of the newly proposed Constitution, in the constant effort to get 51 percent of the delegates to accept it. In fact, since the delegates will meet for a maximum of six months, they may use all of that time in order to get a higher percentage of approval than 51 percent, after hearing the arguments of delegates and citizens who disapprove of the newly proposed document. Two years after the previous presidential election, the American people will vote on the latest proposal of the Constitutional Convention delegates. But if the delegates themselves could not agree on a new, supreme civil document with at least a 51 percent majority, then the constitution that is currently in place will continue to be officially valid.
If the proposed constitution is ratified by the American people, it will not be implemented until two years later when new presidential and national congressional terms of office begin, unless 51 percent of the state legislatures want to implement the newly ratified constitution sooner.
In summation, once the American voters decide they want a Constitutional Convention, they will have one year to pick national political party delegates that will attend the Constitutional Convention. The Constitutional Convention delegates will have a maximum of six months to create a new Constitution that is approved by at least 51 percent of the delegates. Then at the beginning of the next presidential term of office, the new constitution will be implemented. This allows two years to prepare the infrastructure of the new government.
The U.S. Congress, the President, and the U.S. Supreme Court will not have the right to control a Constitutional Convention. They can, however, express their opinions and recommendations in the process. This concludes ARTICLE XVII and the Third Constitution of the United States.
Democracy-loving citizens who approve of this Third Constitution may wisely inquire, how can it be ratified according to the Article V specifications of our current Constitution? Article V of our current Constitution only addresses how amendments can be added to the Constitution. Article V does not address how to have a Constitutional Convention. However, Article XVII of the Third Constitution above could be the basis for a new 28th Amendment that could be added to our current constitution. The new amendment would totally revise Article V of our current Constitution, which describes two cumbersome methods for amending the Constitution.
If a 28th Amendment, modeled after Article XVII in the Third Constitution above, was passed, it would permit our current members of Congress to pass new amendments with a 60 percent majority (in both the House and the Senate) without needing the previously required additional ratification by three fourths of the state legislatures. That might be a scary thought to many; however, it would establish a mechanism for the American people to have a Constitutional Convention in the future using a system of Proportional Representation.
Without a safe, orderly, and fair way in place to have a Constitutional Convention, there could be widespread, violent insurrection in the streets, if and when masses of American people stop tolerating a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. If that ever happens, the government will simply implement martial law, and that could be the beginning of a new world order, not by our consent.
Another reform approach could be to advocate a constitutional amendment that eliminates both the Electoral College and the U.S. Senate, while instituting Proportional Representation in the House. The Senate, however, may be a little reluctant to approve of eliminating itself. But an amendment such as this would dramatically promote democracy, even more so than the current constitutional amendment proposal that is seeking to overturn the Supreme Courts’ Citizens United ruling. That 2010 ruling considers corporations as people and therefore allows them to make large donations to political campaigns.
Now according to Article V of our current constitution, the 50 state legislatures could have an Amendment Convention to pass new amendments, a method that bypasses the U.S. Congress altogether, but the U.S. Congress has not allowed that, even though the Supreme Court has ordered it to do so about four times. For more information about this, see the website Friends of an Article V Convention at www.foavc.org. In the history of our nation, this method of adding amendments to the constitution has never been tried or allowed.
If at the very least this essay is food for thought for students and concerned citizens who want to reform our Constitutional Democratic Republic or create a new one, then I am pleased. Constructive criticism of this document is welcomed, as it is being constantly revised.