Peak Constitutional Amendment - XX

Posted On: Wednesday - September 9th 2020 11:39AM MST
In Topics: 
  US Feral Government  Morning Constitutional

Continued from Amendment XI, Amendment XII, Amendment XIII, Amendment XIV, Amendment XV, Part 1 on Amendment XVI, Part 2 on Amendment XVI , Part 3 on Amendment XVI, Amendment XVII, Amendment XVIII, Part 1 on Amendment XIX, Part 2 on Amendment XIX, and Part 3 on Amendment XIX.)

(This is just a small section of text from the middle of it.)

It's been near 2 months since our last Morning Constitutional, so we are getting backed up here at Peak Stupidity. I will warn you right now that this post will be pretty boring. (We're gonna get through this, dammit!) Boring, however, is good when it comes to Constitutional Amendments, from our survey so far.

Amendment XX is completely "housekeeping", or administrative details, of Presidential and Congressional term scheduling and odd situations resulting from the deaths of the President-elect or candidate in process. Here is the full text:
Section 1

The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Section 2

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Section 3

If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Section 4

The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 5

Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

Section 6

This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
There is not anything to be "interpreted" here, which is always a good thing with Laws of the Land, or any laws. Still, the Interpretation page of our usual source on matters Constitutional, The Constitution Center has some background about the impetus for Amendment XX. (The direct text I pasted in came from this page of the site.)

We're going to start at the end and work backwards here this time, by 2's anyway. Sections 5 and 6 were written simply to set the proposed Amendment's effectiveness date and ratification time limit.

Section 3 is a fix for a problem that hasn't occurred so far, even before the ratification in 1935. Article II, Section 1 (Executive Branch) doesn't get into that much detail to cover this, so this was some foresight by the writers. The debate on Amendment XX was probably as good a time as any to put this in. Section 4 deals with a candidate dying during the voting process. Who cares? We can always find a more evil lesser of two evils. That's never been a problem, but whatever.

Sections 1 and 2, by changing and setting new dates for Congressional sessions had the effect of greatly shortening the length of lame-duck periods for outgoing Congressmnen (especially proportional to total time in office). Per the interpretive discussion, the old way was:
Read together, the Clause stating that congressional sessions shall start in December and the resolution declaring that terms for the first President and members of Congress would begin in March created an anomaly. Each new Congress would not meet for its first regular session until thirteen months after its election and would convene for its second regular session a scant three months prior to the end of its term. Further, because the terms of a new President and new Congress began on the same day, unresolved presidential elections would be decided by the old Congress rather than the new one. Because the two provisions creating the situation were embedded in the Constitution—one directly and one indirectly—the schedule could only be changed by a constitutional amendment.
The "lame duck" problem is having Congressmen/Senators no longer beholden to their constituents other than by honor (hahahaa, but it WAS a thing in the old days), having lost an election but in office and able to vote anyway for a period. This was noted to be a problem very early on in this Republic. In the 1st 3 decades, 18 bills were introduced to change the schedule, written as proposed Constitutional Amendments. Nothing got passed for almost a century and a half because, well, that lame duck session was just great if you were that lame duck:
As odd as the old congressional schedule’s delayed start and lame-duck session might look to modern commentators, it served the interests of lame-duck lawmakers. As critics of the schedule observed, once a legislator lost or did not stand for re-election, a lame-duck session gave that legislator an opportunity to legislate without being responsible to voters. Outgoing Senators and Representatives could offer votes in return for executive-branch appointments, reformers charged. This was especially true for members of the House of Representatives, whose terms were shorter and turnover greater than for Senators. The House therefore became the center of opposition to constitutional amendments designed to eliminate the lame-duck session.
There is nothing new under the sun, people.

There's more background behind Amendment XX being finally offered up, that is, the important sections that greatly reduce the length of time lame duck Congressmen/Senators are around:
Efforts by Republican President Warren Harding to push a ship subsidy bill through a lame-duck session of Congress in 1922 gave renewed impetus to the cause of limiting such sessions and brought Nebraska Republican Senator George W. Norris on board. The ship subsidy bill, a centerpiece of Harding’s America First program, was designed to expand the nation’s merchant marine fleet by subsidizing the construction of cargo ships by private companies. The legislation was opposed by labor and farm groups as a “grab” by commercial interests and the shipping industry.
The story goes on from 1922 until the ratification in 1935 with Senator Norris of Nebraska being part of that long push for this change.*

I told you at the beginning this was going to be boring, right? However, now that we've looked into it, let us celebrate one Constitutional Amendment that WASN'T designed or unintentionally created to change the system of government to the detriment of what our Founders created.

The introduction paragraph of that Amendment XX interpretation page says:
If awards were given to constitutional amendments for quietly doing their job without generating litigation or public controversy, certainly the Twentieth Amendment would be a contender for that prize. Ratified in 1935, it has never been the subject of a Supreme Court decision and has rarely been interpreted by lower courts.
I like that. This was a well done amend, something you won't read about here often, and, yes, I know that "amend" is not a noun, but I'm trying hard to attract more Millennial readers.

* I don't know too much about this Senator Norris other than the dam in Tennessee (he was a sponsor of the act that formed the Tennessee Valley Authority. I just read a bit on wiki here. He was a supporter of Amendment XVII, so that's an immediate big strike against the guy, but a few years later the Senator was one of only 6 Senators to vote against the Declaration of War against Germany in 1917. That about makes up for it, plus his efforts to reduce the power of lame duck Congressmen.

Friday - September 11th 2020 6:55PM MST
PS: Mr. Smith, a long comment, or a few of them, would have been fine. Thank you for this background. I was not surprised to see whom you meant by "the only sane and honest person in Congress". BTW, that was in '03, so not that awful long ago. The anti-immigration movement was around - I'm guessing VDare mentioned it, as they are nothing if not hopeful.

About that effort from Ron Paul, can you imagine if he had brought up his being the originator of that resolution (proposed amendment) during the '12 primary campaign. It seemed that he downplayed the immigration issue, unfortunately. I've mentioned this before, at least on, but I talked to him personally about bringing up illegal immigration in the campaign. By talking, I mean I said it to him as I was supposed to be just shaking hands. He heard me, and made a remark back to those within earshot.

Yeah, I guess the Founders did assume that their meaning was obvious with "natural-born citizen". They didn't understand that they'd be better off mansplaining it ahead of time to the future Ruth Ginsbergs and Sonya OscarMayers.
Adam Smith
Friday - September 11th 2020 9:28AM MST
PS: Good afternoon Mr. Moderator...

"The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens." - Law of Nations

Yeah, it's too bad the founders didn't spell out the requirements for a “natural born citizen” in the constitution itself. I suppose they just couldn't imagine how stupid Americans would one day become.

When one reads through the documents of the day it is overwhelmingly clear that the founders not only debated whether simply being a citizen or “born a citizen” should be enough to qualify one for the presidency but that they ultimately rejected the idea in favor of Vattel's “natural born citizen”. This is no accident. These men chose their words very carefully when penning that document.

Yesterday I started typing what quickly became a long run on comment detailing what many of the founders said about the “natural born citizen”. There is really no doubt that the meaning of “natural born citizen” is very well established and very well understood by anyone who cares to know.

The correct understanding has been known throughout US history until it recently became politically inconvenient. For some reason the imperial overlords are hellbent on eliminating the “natural born citizen” requirement. As the overlords have not been able to alter the constitution through amendment or statute it seems they are trying to do so deceitfully and forcefully through precedent and acquiescence. (a la Øb☭ma)

So, instead of listing a whole lot of quotes from the founders and history, I will link to some recent attempts by congress to eliminate the “natural born citizen” qualification to the presidency.

But, before I do, let me link to one House Joint Resolution I stumbled upon while searching for the others that was proposed by the only sane and honest person in congress. (Hey we can all use a little good news.)

Seems very sensible to me...
Too bad it never made it beyond introduction...

Here are those links...

From June 11, 2003 to February 28, 2008, there were eight different congressional attempts to alter Article II – Section I – Clause V – natural born citizen requirements for president in the U.S. Constitution, all of them failing in committee.

Clearly some powerful people want anchorbabies and foreigners to be eligible to the presidency.

Unsurprisingly, most the articles I've read in support of the elimination of the “natural born citizen” requirement come from immigrants and foreigners themselves.

I think you and I are in agreement that this is really about loyalty, not having conflicting interests, can't serve two masters, etc. We should not have dual citizens, especially in any sort of office. We probably shouldn't even let them in for vacation.

Yet, oddly, every presidential candidate and most congressmen and senators are openly and brazenly beholden to a foreign power to the detriment of the “natural born Citizens”.

If they succeed in eliminating the “natural born citizen” requirement then any anchorbaby can ascend to the presidency. Perhaps one day they can do away with the citizenship requirement completely.

I do not think it will bode well for America if another unqualified candidate is sworn in as president.

I hope you have a great day Mr. Moderator...

Thursday - September 10th 2020 3:11AM MST
PS: Mr. Smith, as usual you come up with some very good questions. "Qualify"? Is that defined anywhere else in the document? Our Constitution is thankfully very short, so I will just quickly look at Article II, Section I, 5th paragraph:

"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

That "natural born citizen" part has been argued about and interpreted a whole lot. I'd guess he Founders knew very well what that meant (to them), but it's too bad they didn't spell it out.

Yes, this may very well apply to the Biden-unfit/CamelToe eligibility question, but nobody in the Establishment will dare to ask that question.
Thursday - September 10th 2020 3:04AM MST
PS: Thank you for the book quote, fan of Harrison Bergeron. This does look like what the ctrl-left is aiming for. However, I lean toward an Idiocracy prediction for the future, though with a time-table ramped-up by a factor of 10. What proposals will come next out of the House of Representin'.
Adam Smith
Wednesday - September 9th 2020 10:28PM MST
PS: Top of the evening Mr. Moderator...
I hope this message finds you well...

I don't find this post boring at all...
I find it rather interesting...

You mention...
"There is not anything to be "interpreted" here,.."

I ask...
What if..? As per section 3...

"the President elect shall have failed to qualify..."


"neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified..."

(By the amendment's wording someone can evidently be president or vice president elect but remain unqualified.)

What are these qualifications?
Who decides if the elect "qualify"?
What if they don't "qualify"?
What happens then?

Who decides?
Who interprets?

I imagine the supremes might get involved..(?)
Maybe very involved..(?)

What sort of "law" might the congress provide in that situation?

Who might congress declare to "act" as president?

I suppose I am asking in light of Creepy Joe's dementia and old agedness and Kamala's anchor baby/not sure if she is truly a natural born citizen-ness...

How much precedent is there?
Is this really settled "law"?
(Even seemingly settled "law" can be overturned.)

Like you say...
Section 3 is a fix for a problem that hasn't occurred...


Thanks for the interesting post...
I hope you have a great evening...

Harrison Bergeron
Wednesday - September 9th 2020 9:25PM MST
PS THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal
before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter
than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was
stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the
211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing
vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
WHAT SAY YOU? : (PLEASE NOTE: You must type capital PS as the 1st TWO characters in your comment body - for spam avoidance - or the comment will be lost!)