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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 13, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas 8AQ Herald28ltung a Friday June Amending the Constitution no easy feat By LAURIE ASSEO Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON AP Amending the Constitution is not easy just ask supporters of congressional term limits a balanced federal budget and the flagburning ban just passed by the House Even so a newly formed group of legal experts and scholars says politicians are becoming too quick to push constitutional amendments as a way to cure the nations ills Lawmakers need to show some selfrestraint says Georgetown law professor L Michael Seidman a member of Citizens for the Constitution If one is advocating a constitutional amendment it is not a sufficient reason that one has the raw political power to put it into Seidman told reporters Thursday People seem to be looking at the Constitution as the drawing board on which to try out their ideas and to vent added Penelope Payne a Washington lawyer who worked for the Bush administration Later Thursday the House overwhelmingly voted to approve an amendment that would let Congress outlaw burning the American flag But there is no guarantee the measure will get the necessary two thirds vote in the Senate It has failed to clear Congress before as have proposals to require a balanced federal budget and limit congressional terms Even if the flag amendment gets through the Senate it still would have to be ratified by threefourths of the states One amendment that got through the process but proved to be a failure was Prohibition enacted as the 18th Amendment in 1919 and repealed through the 21st Amendment in 1933 Of about 27 have been ratified including the first 10 adopted as the Bill of Rights But more amendments seem to be getting closer to enactment lately say members of the group sponsored by the 20th Century Fund a New Yorkbased nonpartisan research organization Citizens for the Constitution boasts many wellknown members including former Attorneys General Benjamin Civiletti Nicholas Katzenbach and Elliot Richardson two Democrats and a Republican Members say they will not take positions on specific proposed amendments and they are not arguing that the Constitution should never be changed Instead they plan to propose standards for considering whether amendments should be enacted Questions they will ask Is an amendment really necessary Could its aims be accomplished some other way such as by enacting laws Such queries are being made about the proposed victims rights amendment supported by President Clinton and many Republicans Among other things it would give crime victims the right to testify at bail hearings and object to plea bargains Such rights already can be provided by federal or state law without a constitutional amendment says Morton Halperin a consultant to the 20th Century Fund who served in the Johnson and Nixon administrations Allan Morrison of the Public Citizen Litigation Group said another example of offering an amendment when laws would do is the Equal Rights Amendment which fell short of ratification by the states following years of bitter debate Morrison supported the ERA but now believes it is just as well that it did not pass because most of its goals have been accomplished through laws and lawsuits Lets learn something from he said But some changes can be made only by amending the Constitution The Supreme Court has ruled that congressional term limits cannot be imposed by state or federal law At times a constitutional amendment may be needed to overturn a Supreme Court decision Seidman suggested The 14th Amendment overturned the high courts infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision that denied citizenship to blacks and held Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in the territories But the Constitutionshould not become the subject forfadssays Don Wallace a Georgetown law professor who was chairman of a group of professors supporting Bob Doles presidential campaign Wallace said he might favor some of the proposals now in Congress But he added I dont want to make the Constitution something to be toyed Laurie Asseo covers the Supreme Court and legal issues for The Associated 111 S Union St Fine Quality Gold Silver Jewelry at Affordable Prices Open Fri Sat 10 to Centex fast vdue Copy Paper is always on SALE 154 S Business IH35 next to Adobe Cafe 6293979 Children are needed to participate in a clinical research study to evaluate an asthma medication Participants years of age Suffering from mild to moderate asthma and using asthma medication Able to complete 4 outpatient visits at our facility Receive free studyrelated medical care and compensation for your time Central Texas Health Research 210 6090900 B u re K RLD OAR PON T IA C G M C Yes we have changed our name but we still have the same great people providing you the same great service NOW ONLY FREE Oil Filter Change When combined with one of fhese Service Speciak Offer expires 63097 1 I plus tax per axel n GM 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