Rick’s new essay on the length of House terms got me thinking about the project recently undertaken by the Democracy to draft a proposed whole new constitution for the United States. I don’t recall seeing mention of this project on ELB (apologies if I missed it), and I confess I haven’t had a chance yet to take in all its details and the deliberations behind it (the journal’s symposium on it has a lot for those wanting to pursue it). But I did quickly notice just now that it proposes 4-year terms for the national House of Representatives (in its Article II, section 2). Apparently the vote of the project’s “delegates” on this provision was 58% for 4-year terms, 8% for 3-year terms, and 33% for 2-year terms.
More broadly, I wonder what this project says about the chances of actually getting a new constitution for the U.S. anytime soon. I think it’s widely accepted among scholars, in the fields of election law and constitutional (and among political scientists as well), that the Constitution is long past showing its age with serious need for various major structural reforms, and yet because of Article V’s constraints on constitutional amendments seemingly impossible to change. The document’s arguably most undemocratic feature by contemporary standards, equal number of Senators for each state regardless of population, can’t even be amended the normally difficult way but requires the consent of each state. Thus, it would seem to require some sort of convulsive and calamitous condition to get to the point where a whole new constitution that breaks from the constraints of Article V has a realistic chance of actually being adopted, and I don’t think we would want those kinds of precipitating circumstances to occur. But maybe as a nation we are heading there.