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Just a note on the U.S. constitution.  The reason why amendments are so difficult to change, is because the constitution outlines basic rights that SHOULD be difficult to alter or change. The right to free speech, freedom from search and seizure, free exercise of religion, right to bear arms etc. That is our federal constitution. However, each state is allowed to pass it's own laws that do not contradict the federal constitution. For example, the death penalty.  I believe 36 states have the death penalty. 14 dont. My state, New Jersey, just abolished it yesterday. So, state laws are relatively easy to change. Rights guaranteed in the constitution, not so.  This makes sense because every election the new party could change the constitution with a 51% vote.  This would make constitutional rights subject to the whim of every election.  

BTW: From my distant vantage point, the EU seems to be the rule of elites and bureaucrats.  If the net effect is to impose another layer of bureaucracy, taxation and regulation on european citizens, dont expect them to love the EU.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:15:40 PM EST
Please, Terry, have a look at European Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Lisbon treaty makes it legally binding for the member states, except for the UK and Poland which have negotiated an opt-out clause.

From my distant vantage point, the EU seems to be the rule of elites and bureaucrats.

Your vantage point might be too distant. Try to look closer and, please, favour information over clichés.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasnt referring to the EU constitution. I was referring to the US constitution.

Terry
by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 12:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody is saying constitutional change should be easy. 2/3 majorities in parliament and absolute majorities of electorate are normal hurdles.  My point was simply that a unanimity requirement amongst 27 and possibly more states is too high a hurdle.  

There have been very few successful ratifications of changes in the US constitution in recent years - the last one took 200 years to be ratified.  This means the constitution can get out of date or not appropriate to modern circumstances.  And the US constitution only requires 3/4 of states to agree (as well as 2/3 congress)

Thus the "right to bear arms" clause may have been appropriate when arms meant muskets and revolvers and when people were at risk of attack from Native American indians, other colonists, bears, or just due to the general lawlessness of "the wild west".  The same clause can now be interpreted to give an individual the right to own a Tank, cluster bomb or nuclear bomb.  Hardly appropriate in modern circumstances!

My greater point is that the EU unanimity rule applies not only to constitutional changes but also to matters which any state deems to be a matter of vital national interest -which could be anything from a dairy cow suckler herd subsidy to corporate taxation rates.  This is why EU negotiations tend to be so "byzantine" in their complexity and difficulty.

I appreciate that more areas of policy will now be subject to "weighted majority voting" under the Reform Treaty if passed.  But the scope for national obstructionism is still huge.  Cypress can, for instance block Turkey's accession, unless it gets northern Cypress back.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:48:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did of course man Cyprus!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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