On NPR this morning, they had a brief segment on the current gay marriage debate. I don't support this amendment, for reasons on at least four levels, most of which I've covered so many times before that I don't want to go into it all again right now. But even if you fully opposed this amendment, it doesn't do to say false or misleading things in order to support that view. Senator Patrick Leahy was quoted on NPR this morning saying that this amendment would be the first time in U.S. history that we would amend the Constitution to limit individual rights. I'm not sure what he's talking about, because I count six times that amdenments have done exactly that.
13th Amendment, Section 1: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
That sounds to me like a limiting of individual rights. I would have a right to own slaves if the 13th Amendment were not in effect. I do not have such a right due to that amendment. The 13th Amendment thus limits my individual rights.
14th Amendment, Section 3: "No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability."
This takes away the individual right to hold certain offices among those who have committed certain offenses. That's an individual right that the amendment removes.
16th Amendment: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration."
This removes a property right. The Congress can ensure that some of the money that I can't keep or use as I wish some of my income, merely on the ground that I earned it.
18th Amendment, Section 1: "After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited."
How could I leave out prohibition? This so very clearly eliminates the right to produce, sell, or transport alcholic beverages. The fact that this amendment came primarily from religious moralists wanting to enforce their personal ethic on those who didn't share it creates such a strong parallel with how Leahy sees this currently proposed amendment that it amazes me that he could miss it.
21st Amendment, Section 2: "The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited."
The first section of this amendment repeals Prohibition in general, and the second reinstitutes one element of it. It doesn't allow movement of alcoholic beverages into states if the intent is to do something illegal with them. Such transportation would not otherwise be illegal, and thus this limits the individual right to move a beverage into a state with such a motive.
22nd Amendment, Section 1: "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term."
This amendment limits the individual right to hold a particular office longer than specified, even if one would otherwise have been elected to that office.