From the Left



This is a time for Constitutional boldness

E.J. Dionne Jr. on

Garrett Epps, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, noted in an email that constitutional amendments usually "come in clusters and they tend to come at moments of national optimism and feeling of confidence." (Too bad for us right now.) The three Civil War amendments -- abolishing slavery, guaranteeing equal protection and the right to vote -- are good examples, as are the Progressive Era amendments on women's suffrage, allowing an income tax and directly electing senators.

Epps argues that Electoral College reform is what's most urgently needed. He points to the fact we have altered "the system of presidential election and succession no fewer than four times" (through the 12th, 20th, 22nd and 25th Amendments), a reflection of our ongoing difficulties in getting it right.

The best way to honor our past is not to freeze its practices in place but to remember that our forebears were willing to undertake reform when reforms were required.

"When Americans have confronted major political, economic and social crises throughout our history, we have debated -- and adopted -- constitutional changes to address them," said Ganesh Sitaraman, a law professor at Vanderbilt University. "Many of the recent proposals for constitutional reforms are in line with this tradition."

Yes, and we shouldn't be afraid of them.

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E.J. Dionne is on Twitter: @EJDionne.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group


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