Freaking out over nothing

Jose Serrano is at it again. The Democrat in the House of Representatives has once again introduced into the House a resolution to amend the Constitution and repeal the 22nd Amendment.

And everyone seems to be freaking out about it. For the uninitiated, there are two things to keep in mind.

1. Serrano has been doing this since 1997

In 1997, when Clinton had started his second term in office, Serrano introduced his resolution for the first time. And at the start of every new Congress, he’s introduced it, so 2013 was to be no surprise.

Now why he’s wanting to see the 22nd Amendment repealed is beyond me. He’s never released a statement to explain this, to the best of my knowledge. And if I were to attempt to contact him, as I’m not one of his constituents, he’d likely give me the “I only have time to answer my constituents” kind of e-mail, similar to what I received from Senator Lieberman when I contacted him about the Terrorist Expatriation Act of 2010.

If I do attempt to contact Representative Serrano for comment or statement, I’ll post the message to this blog. (Update: I’ve since contacted Rep. Serrano for comment.)

But to those who think that Serrano is trying to pave the way for Obama to become “Emperor” or something like that — one commenter to my previous article on this said “Next comes martial law, one world union, one world currency, the chip, the temple and Obama going inside and claiming to be God!” — then I think you’re seriously mistaken and need to get your head out of the clouds and come back and visit the rest of us in Realityland.

Oh, and one other thing: every time Serrano has introduced this amendment, it has never left committee. Why is everyone freaking out about this?

2. Repealing the 22nd Amendment requires amending the Constitution

This is the one part of this whole ordeal that no one seems to be considering. Amending the Constitution is an intentionally difficult process. There’s a good reason why the Constitution has been amended only 27 times since its ratification: amending the Constitution of the United States affects all 50 States!

For this proposed amendment to see the light of day beyond the House committee to which it was assigned requires the bill to be recommended by the committee for a floor vote. And then the House of Representatives must vote on that amendment, and the Constitution has defined a successful passage as 2/3rds of a quorum. This is far beyond the typical simple majority that is required for all other bills.

Once it passes the House, the Senate sends the proposed amendment through their parliamentary procedure. On the Senate floor, the Constitution again requires 2/3rds of a quorum voting ‘yea’ for the bill to pass.

Then once it crosses that hurdle in Congress, it isn’t the President that sees it. No the proposed Amendment is sent to the State legislatures for ratification. And 38 of the 50 States must ratify the Amendment for it to take affect.

Conclusion: The 22nd Amendment is not in danger

Attempts to repeal the 22nd Amendment have been taken not just by Serrano, but also by former-Representatives Barney Frank [D-MA(4)] and Howard Berman [D-CA(28)], and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). No attempt has even left the committee. Even if the Amendment were to be proposed, what is the likelihood that such an Amendment would be ratified by the States? I’d say it is highly, highly unlikely.

After President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in 1945, while Truman was still finishing out that term in office, Congress moved relatively quickly to draft and propose an Amendment to the Constitution to limit the number of terms a person can serve as President. Prior to FDR, there was an implied or ceremonial term limit of 2 terms, as that is the most that George Washington served, though it was actually Thomas Jefferson who established the ceremonial practice. Few have attempted to go beyond that, and, until FDR, all those that attempted failed.

So when FDR managed to get elected to not just 3, but 4 terms in office, Congress moved quickly to enshrine in the Constitution the ceremonial limit Jefferson established.

And as such, the 22nd Amendment is not going anywhere. There is no reason for anyone to freak out about Serrano and his introduction of his resolution.