On Hertzberg And The Revamp Of The U.S. Constitution

1652 words - 7 pages

On Hertzberg and the Revamp of the U.S. Constitution
Since its inception, the United States Constitution has been subjected to series of amendments over different time periods. Robert A. Dahl, in his book entitled How Democratic Is the American Constitution (2001), goes beyond discussing the relatively common pattern of constitutional amendment by arguing that major changes may be necessary to rescue the Constitution from its long-standing defects. Reviewing Dahl’s work through the essay “Framed Up: What the Constitution Gets Wrong,” author Hendrik Hertzberg traces the undesirable historical and political implications of the structure and content of the Constitution. Affirming Dahl’s ...view middle of the document...

Here, there is an issue as to what the Constitution does not define—in this case, the scope and limits of the power of the judicial branch. William Bradford Reynolds refers to this issue as the tendency for judicial activism (“Has the Wisdom of the Framers of the Constitution in Promoting a "More Perfect Union" Been Overrated?”). Of course, it is not proper to completely demonize the power of the Court, particularly in terms of making judicial reviews because a number of judicial decisions have changed some of the most exclusionary and discriminatory laws of the land. However, the Court, given the lenient language of the Constitution, also possesses the tendency to monopolize policy decisions even to the extent of compromising the interest of the minorities. The Constitution’s implications on the power of the judiciary, true to what Hertzberg suggests, partly justifies the need for new changes into this document.
Moreover, Hertzberg’s view regarding the undemocratic character of Senate structure and processes is another lens through which major constitutional changes can be rationalized. In his review, Hertzberg refers to the equal representation in the Senate as a political blackmail that is antithetical to the democratic character of the U.S. Constitution and the constitutional government itself. Within the purview of the Constitution, two senators should be elected from each state regardless of the number of population. This process is challenging because the concession is based on the number of population, as opposed to equal representations based on gender and race, for example; this renders the Senate more prone to narrow political interests. Hertzberg is persuasive in explaining this ground by noting that, historically, “Senate was formed less by rational argument than by threats of treason and war.” In other words, the Constitution needs major changes because the equal representation in the Senate does not always translate to the larger equal representation as far as the overall interests of the public are concerned.
Hertzberg also correctly re-echoes the old issue regarding the U.S. Constitution’s challenges when it comes to accountability. The author argues that while the separation of powers of the three branches of government provide theory and mechanism for the system of checks and balances, it also attracts problem in power-sharing and, thus, issues with the accountability of the government. In the article entitled “Polarization and Partisanship,” Didi Kuo specifically mentions the problem of democratic accountability, a recurring problem associated with the Constitution’s loopholes. Explaining the challenges associated with the Affordable Care Act, Kuo analyzes that much of the remaining policy issues have been directed toward the decisions of the President (as well as the U.S. Supreme Court); this situation, according to Kuo, “creates real problems of democratic accountability, since it is our elected representatives in...

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