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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Does a Supermajority Undercut Constitutionalism?

How “extreme” can a legislative supermajority get in its legislation? Can constitutional safeguards act as a check where a legislative supermajority can enact amendments at will? A judiciary protecting the rights of individuals as well as a people against over-reaches by a government is limited by constitutional provisions presumably set in stone yet actually in erasable parchment. Complicating an answer, the term extreme may be applied to a piece of legislation by one person and refused by another. I come from a medium-sized city in the Midwest, where extreme has been thought to apply to commuting to work by bicycle. Where a pathological fear of change grips a town, you don’t have to go far to find someone proscribing something or other as too extreme At the level of the U.S. governmental institutions, one political party might deem universal health insurance through extant private insurance companies as extreme—tantamount to demonic European socialism—while another party might view continuing to use private insurance companies as merely reformist rather than extreme. A supermajority can take advantage of such a difference in descriptive judgments to argue that a significant constitutional change is actually a minor change and thus not worth worrying about. 


How “extreme” can a legislative supermajority get in its legislation? Can constitutional safeguards act as a check where a legislative supermajority can enact amendments at will? A judiciary protecting the rights of individuals as well as a people against over-reaches by a government is limited by constitutional provisions presumably set in stone yet actually in erasable parchment. Complicating an answer, the term extreme may be applied to a piece of legislation by one person and refused by another. I come from a medium-sized city in the Midwest, where extreme has been thought to apply to commuting to work by bicycle. Where a pathological fear of change grips a town, you don’t have to go far to find someone proscribing something or other as too extreme At the level of the U.S. governmental institutions, one political party might deem universal health insurance through extant private insurance companies as extreme—tantamount to demonic European socialism—while another party might view continuing to use private insurance companies as merely reformist rather than extreme. A supermajority can take advantage of such a difference in descriptive judgments to argue that a significant constitutional change is actually a minor change and thus not worth worrying about. 

The full essay is at "Supermajority and Constitutionalism."