For Deep and Lasting Reform, We Need to Amend the ConstitutionNews at Home
John Davenport is a professor of philosophy at Fordham University, where he teaches ethics and political philosophy, including human rights, democratic theory and global governance.
In the aftermath of nationwide protests unlike any seen in a generation, an extraordinary window of opportunity may be opening to address some fundamental problems in our country. People are understandably focused on ideas to bring about better policing. Health care and economic inequality will surely return to the agenda as we proceed into the party conventions and fall election season. But with a reform movement this large underway, we should focus new attention on the root causes of political division and anger at our broken system. These lie in outdated parts of the Constitution itself that desperately need to be amended.
There remains the issue of increasing abuses of power in the presidency. Americans generally believe in having a strong chief executive, but links with Russia and Ukraine-gate have revealed deep problems. This issue should not be a partisan one: we need amendments to clarify what kinds of collusion with foreign powers constitutes treason, and to clarify when a sitting president can be charged with a crime. No president or campaign for federal office should be able to seek or accept any type of campaign assistance from foreign powers or their operatives, especially by data theft. Congressional subpoena power should be strengthened, contempt of Congress defined as a felony, and the limits of executive privilege defined. Grounds for impeachment and the impeachment process should be spelled out in more detail. And presidents and cabinet officials should be required to hold all assets in blind trusts.
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