Propositions to the Constitution


Courtesy of

By Veronica Ung-Kono ‘18, STAFF WRITER

“If we Americans were to hold a new constitutional convention, what would we retain from the current document and what would we do away with?” Dr. Donald Kommers asked the Le Moyne community on Nov. 3.

Last Monday, Kommers of Notre Dame University spoke on the relevancy of the U.S. Constitution. Kommers is a professor of Political Science and an author of over 100 major articles and books, including the widely acclaimed work, The Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Federal Republic of Germany, the 3rd edition of which was published in 2012 by Duke University Press. He has also been presented with numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Kommers touched on the suggestion that Americans venerate the Constitution, in that we resist any type of suggestion that the document should be changed. “We regard it like Holy Scripture, you do not simply tamper with it,” said Kommers.  He also questioned if the breakdown of the political system is due to the Constitution, or if it is the reverse.

Regarding the Senate, Kommers proposed the “troublesome” context of the Senate’s power. He asked the question of how many people are actually able to speak with their Senator. “Maybe you will if you give $100,000 to his campaign, but otherwise, unless you are from a smaller state and a prominent member of the community, you will not,” he said.

Kommers made the point that the distribution of the balance of power within the Senate is rather alarming. According to Kommers, “Homogenous states” are able to elect Senators over and over because of this, which has led to federal awards being given out unequally. In the instance of Homeland Security Funds, the state of Wyoming is given 75 percent more money than the state of New York.

The political science professor when on to state that the Presidential veto is another topic to be considered, if the constitution were to be altered in some manner.

“I think the dysfunctional system results from our current legislative process,” said Kommers. “The rigid system of bicameralism and the concept that the President’s ability to veto a piece of legislation—even if it has passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate—makes the Presidency into ‘a one person legislature,’  as 2/3 majority is needed to combat the veto of one man.”

On the topic of the second article of the Constitution, Kommers stated there is nothing that prevents the country from being able to get rid of an incompetent president.  He believes the Electoral College is a part of the problem because to even have a President one must vote for the representatives in the Electoral College, who will then choose the President. Therefore a President with fewer popular votes could still be chosen.

To end his discussion Kommers spoke of the third article of the Constitution regarding the Supreme Court. On controversial cases, he believes one can predict the decisions of the court, as everyone knows about these individuals.  Kommers thinks “it would be a good idea to get new blood on the court, every couple of years,” in order to ensure the independence and reliability of the judiciary. He believes a lifetime of service is not required.

“If we were to hold a Constitutional Convention today, I would say changing times requires changing amendments,” said Kommes. “Otherwise the byproducts would be dysfunctionality, gridlock, the breakdown and polarization of American politics.”