Viking Saga

If you could change one thing in the Constitution, what would it be and why?

ELHS students and staff responded to this question when prompted by The Viking Saga

For those who have watched the documentary 13th, you will recognize why my change
to the Constitution would be to redact the phrase “except as a punishment for crime”
from the 13th amendment. We were all taught that the 13th amendment “abolished”
slavery. Sure, we outlawed the ownership of slaves and indentured servants, but this one
phrase continued to fuel racial injustice in this country by supplying a loophole. The
U.S Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that in 2018, among males in the prison system,
58 percent were Black and Hispanic while only 29 percent were White. It is statistically
shown that racial minorities are incarcerated more than Whites. I suggest you take the
time to watch this documentary, even if you believe that it won’t align with your political
beliefs. This phrase is a disgusting excuse for freedom. It is a slanted and sly way to
promote the false idea of “freedom and justice to all” in the United States.

I would add the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution. It states that “Equality
of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on
account of sex.” In other words, it guarantees equal legal rights for all citizens, regardless of
sex. This amendment is important because it would end the legal distinction between men
and women in terms of employment, property, divorce, and more. Women couldn’t own
credit cards, serve on a jury, work while pregnant, take birth control, play soccer, serve on the
front lines, and more until those rights were granted through laws after being challenged. The
laws that grant women equality can be taken away, but the ERA would prevent that. It would
permanently make men and women equal, and prevent new laws from being made that go
against that equality. The ERA has been ratified by the necessary 38 states as of January 2020
with Virginia’s vote, but won’t be added to the Constitution because the deadline to do so has
passed. Congress has the power to overrule that deadline, but the Trump administration says
they need to just start over, even though that is not in the executive branch’s power to say so.
Other conflicts have risen as the ERA tries to pass, but nothing should stand in the way of
gender equality.

The 2nd Amendment is outdated. When put into the Bill of Rights in 1788, the only
form of military presence in America was the militia, as the Continental Army was
disbanded. America does not have a standing army until after WWII. Therefore, during
the late 18th and early 19th century, when the 2nd Amendment was ratified, there was
the need for the “Right to Bear Arms” so the state militias could protect the citizens from
Native American incursions and possible outside threats. However, now that America
has a standing Army, National Guard, reserves, and a major police force, the need for
the average citizen to “Bear Arms” is no longer necessary. Thus, the 2nd Amendment
is outdated. And seeing as the Constitution is a living document, it should amend this
original amendment, just like the 21st Amendment did with the 18th Amendment
dealing with prohibition.

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