The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions

By Eugene J. McCarthy | Go to book overview

31
Constitutional Amendments

Since the turn of the century, we have amended the Constitution of the United States too often. There were only four amendments to the Constitution in the 1800s; there have been eleven amendments so far in this century.

Some of the twentieth-century amendments were passed to remedy weaknesses in the Constitution. Others, however, indicated timidity or a failure to understand the Constitution.

The Sixteenth Amendment, adopted in 1913, authorized the income tax. A good case can be made that the income tax was constitutional before the amendment was passed.

The Seventeenth Amendment, also adopted in 1913, provided for the direct election of senators. Many states were already on the way to adopting this procedure when the amendment was passed.

The Eighteenth Amendment, which took effect in 1920, was the Prohibition Amendment. It should never have been adopted, a fact recognized by its later repeal.

The Nineteenth Amendment, ratified in 1920, was the women's suffrage amendment. It should not have been needed, since the principle was already in the Constitution. But many of the states had been slow to act on the principle.

Since adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, the states have been slow to guarantee equal rights to women in employment and other areas. This has made necessary the Equal Rights Amendment, which was proposed by Congress in 1972 and is now pending before state legislatures.

The Twentieth Amendment, adopted in 1933, corrected a few minor mistakes or omissions in the Constitution. For example, it reduced the lame-duck periods for President and Congress.

-165-

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The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction by Tom Wicker vii
  • Preface xix
  • Part I - Institutions 1
  • 1 - Toward a More Responsible Presidency 3
  • 2 - The Vice President as Crown Prince 15
  • 3 - Changes in the Congress 19
  • 4 - The Courts, the Last Appeal 28
  • 5 - Court of Ideas 32
  • 6 - A Kind Word for the Bureaucrats 35
  • 7 - A Kind Word for the Military 45
  • 8 - A Warning About the Military Establishment 49
  • 9 - The Cia and the Inner Ring 58
  • 10 - The Corporations 61
  • 11 - The Universities 68
  • 12 - The Democratic and Republican Parties 75
  • 13 - Alternatives to the Major Parties 80
  • Part II - Operations 87
  • 14 - A Hard Look at the Primaries 89
  • 15 - Personality Cults 96
  • 16 - The Cult of the Expert 97
  • 17 - A Good and Becoming Exit 100
  • 18 - Listen to Mr. Parkinson 104
  • 19 - The Sst: Object Lesson in Dynamics of Opposition 106
  • 20 - The Lobbyists 109
  • 21 - Grant Park, Chicago 116
  • 22 - Marching on Washington 118
  • 23 - Changing America 122
  • Part III - Principles 125
  • 24 - Innocence in Politics 127
  • 25 - Language and Politics 130
  • 26 - Poetry and War 135
  • 27 - Ares 144
  • 28 - Intellectuals and Politics 148
  • 29 - Out of Phase 155
  • 30 - Trouble in the Economics Community 158
  • 31 - Constitutional Amendments 165
  • 32 - Five Systems of Justice 170
  • 33 - The Enemies List 173
  • 34 - Censorship 182
  • Part IV - A Good Person is Not So Hard to Find 185
  • 35 - John Bennett 187
  • 36 - Emerson Hynes 189
  • 37 - John Kennedy 190
  • 38 - Dan and Doris Kimball 193
  • 39 - Robert Lowell 196
  • 40 - Wayne Morse 197
  • 41 - Lewis Mumford 203
  • 42 - Eleanor Roosevelt 205
  • 43 - Frank Rosenblatt 207
  • 44 - Adlai Stevenson 208
  • Notes 215
  • Index 223
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