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Let’s Amend the U.S. Constitution

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


Among your many just criticisms of the new omnibus spending bill is the fact that, being 4,155 pages, this bill is one that “most Members will never read” (“The Ugliest Omnibus Bill Ever,” Dec. 21). The Constitution’s framers are looking down with disgust.

The brilliance of the U.S. Constitution owes much to the framers’ mature recognition that persons holding political power are more prone to act as scoundrels rather than as saints. The limits and checks on the power granted by the Constitution to the national government were thus created to protect citizens from government-officials’ scoundrelly behavior.

But as clear-eyed and realistic as the framers were, they did not imagine members of Congress being so utterly irresponsible and corrupt as to enact statutes the texts of which no Member can possibly even read. If the framers had been given a glimpse of a 21st-century Congress, they would surely have included in the Constitution this simple provision, one that would have otherwise seemed to an 18th-century American mind to be ludicrously unnecessary: ‘Congress shall make no law that is impossible for persons of ordinary intelligence to read in full in the time allotted for enactment of said law.’

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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