The United States Constitution may be considered the first modern constitution in the world. It has a long history as a legal document and an even longer history behind the philosophical ideas that lay in its foundation. Despite being a symbol of freedom now, the Constitution was not created as a perfect document, it was modified and nowadays, there is an opinion that it is time for new amendments.
In every session of the United States Congress, dozens of proposed amendments to the Constitution are introduced. According to the US Senate, 11,700 proposals were made since the first session in 1789 (Measures Proposed). Throughout the United States’ history, there were proposals of all manners, including, for example, the 1911 proposition to abolish the US Senate (House Member Introduces Resolution). This essay will examine and analyze the pending propositions to amend the US Constitution.
First, it is important to understand that the US Constitution is rather strict in its process of amendments. This is the main reason why, since 1789 only 27 amendments have been passed (Kraśnicka & Kużelewska, 2018). This process is required to preserve the system of checks and balances and the rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution. Of course, it does not mean that no amendments should be considered. For example, H. J. Res. 4, introduced in April of 2021, proposes to limit the power of the President to grant a pardon (H. J. Res. 4, 2021). The authors proposed to prohibit the President from granting a pardon to himself or herself, their family members, members of the administration and paid campaign employees. The President would not be able to grant a pardon to any person or entity associated with mentioned people or to a person or an entity that committed an offense directed or coordinated by the President. This proposed amendment also prohibits pardons given for a corrupt purpose.
This amendment should be passed, probably in a more refined form. It is undoubtedly hard to imagine a situation in which the US President would abuse his power of pardon, granting it to people close to him for a corrupt purpose. However, considering the current political climate in the country, it is impossible to entirely rule that out. The proposed limitation on presidential powers of pardon should strengthen the trust in government institutions. This amendment, if passed, will ensure accountability for the people, who might be tempted to commit crimes during an election in order to subvert democracy. As the law stands now, the President and his party have the ability to use illegal methods to come to power. Afterward, this corrupt party might absolve itself and all its members of any wrongdoing by only the President’s decision.
It is possible to say that, although theoretically possible, this situation will not be allowed by the court system and the Senate, which has its own instruments to oppose the President. However, in order to ensure a stable democracy in the country, and to prevent even the possibility of such an abuse of power, H.J. Res. 4 should definitely be passed. The latest events surrounding the US elections have shown that relying only on the goodwill of participating politicians is unwise. In conclusion, this proposed amendment should be passed in order to restrict the presidential powers of pardon, as this would strengthen the system of checks and balances. Therefore, this amendment is necessary to ensure democracy in the United States.
Measures Proposed to Amend the Constitution. (n.d.). United States Senate. Web.
House Member Introduces Resolution to Abolish the Senate. (n.d.). United States Senate. Web.
H. J. Res. 4 – Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States limiting the pardon power of the President. (2021). Library of Congress. Web.
Kraśnicka, I., & Kużelewska, E. (2018). “Compensation Amendment” to the United States Constitution. Teka of Political Science and International Relations, 13(1), 85–95.