New US Constitution groups/thinktanks
February 10, 2017 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Given that the US Constitution is over a couple of centuries old, and that the world has changed dramatically since its introduction, I imagine a number of American groups have proposals for full replacements for governing the United States. Please link me to any of these you're familiar with (along with - if possible - a précis about their most notable differences from our our current constitution). Note: I am not looking for proposed single amendments, but for full-scale replacements.
posted by Greg Nog to Law & Government (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

One problem here is that I'm pretty sure there's no constitutional mechanism for completely rewriting the constitution, which means that as things stand currently it would be literally impossible to do this. I guess you could start with a constitutional amendment saying "actually we CAN write a new constitution and get rid of this one, and here's how," though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:09 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is probably not what you're looking for but I include it for the sake of completeness.
posted by mhum at 9:23 AM on February 10, 2017

Sanford Levinson has written extensively on this.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:29 AM on February 10, 2017

I am certain that Hendrik Hertzberg has written about this, if only to say that it's impracticable but if it could be done, here are some thoughts, but I may have read this in his book Politics: Observations and Arguments, which by the way I can't recommend highly enough. At any rate, in my search for his remarks on this, I ran into this article which I think might contribute to your question if not directly provide an answer it.
posted by janey47 at 9:45 AM on February 10, 2017

I'm pretty sure you're right about Rick Hertzberg, because I'm pretty sure he's where I first read about Levinson.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:53 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really liked the book How Democratic is the American Constitution?. It is brief and accessible and lays out some proposals for a more democratic system, for example, a critique of how our "upper house" (senate) gives much more weight to small states than large, advocacy for a parliamentary system, and several proposed reforms to election processes. He compares the US system to many other democracies and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the various systems.
posted by latkes at 9:54 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

There is a weird little book called The Vermont Papers that lays out a detailed decentralist, libertarianish plan for devolving most the State's powers to smaller local regions (called Shires). It has a laserlike focus on Vermont itself, but I want to say there is some talk near the end of the book about expanding the Shire system to a more national scope. Its ideas were appealing to a younger and less-savvy Rock Steady, but I think I would look less-fondly upon it if I were to re-read it now. If nothing else it is an interesting thought experiment in fairly radical ways to re-organize government.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:07 AM on February 10, 2017

latkes, the article I link to is a review of that book by Hertzberg. Worlds are colliding here.
posted by janey47 at 10:28 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

(Oh yes, sorry I didn't click. The book really did shift my thinking significantly.)
posted by latkes at 11:02 AM on February 10, 2017

showbiz_liz, my understanding is that if a new constitutional convention were to be called then pretty much anything and everything could be changed.

That's pretty dangerous, especially seeing where politics has taken us recently, so it would be best to stick to fixing things mainly by legislation and, in extreme cases, an amendment or two.
posted by duoshao at 11:11 AM on February 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

This and this and this and this and especially this may be of interest. This and this (not my politics) and this (by retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens) may also be of interest, but pertain to amendments. Sorry for presenting this as a link dump!
posted by WCityMike at 11:22 AM on February 10, 2017

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