Chapter 5

Copyright© 2020 by Ernest Bywater

The US Congress

The US Presidential election following the passing of the Constitution Amendment on Secession includes the first Secession Vote. Then all is ready for the Secession Confirmation Vote which is held at the same time as the following mid-term election. That vote is followed by the twelve month transition period. Thus when the seceding countries come into their own on January 1st of the next year there are significant changes to the USA and it’s political landscape at the start of another US Presidential Election year. Along with the official beginning of the new countries the elected officials who supported the secession movements in their areas resign from their offices due to the requirements of the Amendment or due to their offices now being part of a new country. Thus there are many thousands of vacancies in the local and state governments. The changes in the US Congress are more dramatic that most people expected, but in line with what Ernest thought would happen.

In late February the student radio station of the university Ernest is at has him in the studio to take questions on the current political situation, and what he sees happening in the future. After being introduced to the audience Ernest starts the segment with a quick summary of the situation in Congress by saying, “To understand what is happening you first have to remember the make up of Congress as it was after the last mid-term elections. I won’t name actual parties, but I’m sure you can all work them out for yourselves. Those who supported the secession I’ll call Secessionists, and those against I’ll call Unionists.”

The student host interrupts with, “I seem to remember those terms as being used in the past from my history classes.”

All can hear the humor in Ernest’s voice as he replies, “That’s why I’m using them now. This makes it easier for all to understand without me naming any specific parties. Last year there were one hundred members of the Senate with two Independents, fifty-four Unionists, with forty-four Secessionists. In the four hundred and thirty-five seats of the House there were three Independents, one hundred and ninety-six Unionists, with two-hundred and thirty-six Secessionists. Which meant the Unionists controlled the Senate while the Secessionists had control of the House. As of January first the secession changes eliminated ten Senate seats as well as one hundred and eighty-three House seats. Another twenty-eight seats in the Senate and fifty-three House seats are vacated by incumbents who have to resign due to supporting the secession. The Senate is down by ten percent and the House is cut by forty percent. The discrepancy there is due to the large populations in the secessionist areas having so many of the House in their areas. Is that clear to you?”

The student host responds, “Yes. I understand that. But please put those cuts in terms of the make up of Congress.”

“OK. Taking out the seats that are gone the make up of the Senate is one Independent, fifty-four Unionists, and thirty-five Secessionists; so no change there. In the House there’s three Independents, one hundred and seventy-eight Unionists, with one-hundred and seventy-one Secessionists to change control of the house to the Unionists. However, the situation is much more than that because all of the seats being vacated in both houses are from the Secessionists.”

“Won’t the elections later in the year see Secessionists voted into the seats being vacated by their party members?”

“No. While the Secessionists will have winning candidates in some seats I expect them to lose most of them. Take the vacated Senate seats. Most of those are from eleven states where the state legislature lodged for secession, but only part of the state voted for secession. I expect all of the Senate seats in those states to go to Unionists in the coming election.”

“Why is that?”

Ernest grins as he says, “That’s simple. The Senators are elected from the whole state. Only part of the state seceded. The secession supporters are in the areas that seceded. Thus the remaining voters support the union. Across the country most of the secession supporters moved to the areas seceding and that means the union supporters are in the majority. That’s why I expect the Unionists to win over forty of the vacated House seats. I don’t expect them to win them all because some of the vacated seats are in states without seceding counties and those voters are still in residence to support the Secessionist party. As things stand the Unionists now control both houses and I expect them to increase their control in both houses in the election later this year. If there are no territorial changes before then, I expect it will be twenty years, or more, before the Secessionist party will control either house again as it will take them that long to rebuild their voter base within what’s left of the country.”

“That’s interesting. And now you point it out I can see it all makes sense. However, you just said, ‘If there are no territorial changes.’ Do you expect any to occur.”

“Yes. I do expect there will be some territorial changes during the next several years when seceding areas decide to rejoin the Union.”

The student host sits up and all can hear the surprise in his voice as he asks, “Why do you think they will rejoin the Union?”

“As time goes on the voters will miss a lot of the things the Federal government did for them. Already arrangements are in place for all of the International Airports and Air Traffic Control to stay under US Federal control because the new countries don’t have the ability to operate them. The same is true for the Coast Guard Service. None of the educational institutions in the new countries have any recognition outside of their country because they no longer have US Federal recognition due to them not applying any more. There are many other such services that none of those seceding thought about before, but they’ll soon miss them. How would this university go without access to the Library Lending service, or the US Government discounts on textbooks? There’s lots of little things which are about to bite a lot of people’s rear ends.”

“Can you name one big one that you expect to have a major effect?”

“Sure. The Colorado River Compact is between seven US states that includes California, Nevada, and Arizona but it doesn’t include Southern California, the Republic of California, nor the Republic of Tucson. Yet most of the fresh water for the urban areas in those countries is supplied from the Colorado River. At any time they wish to the governments of the states of Arizona and California can redirect their allocation to other parts of their states instead of out of the country. Then the new California countries will be in trouble with water supplies. I’ve not heard of any of those governments talking to anyone about continued water access. Now it’s been made public I suspect they’ll take action to address the matter, but how will they pay for the water now they’re no longer part of the country or state it belongs to? There’s a lot of other similar issues that will arise over the next few years. I also expect a lot of the people to get fed up with having to go through border crossings when going to places that used to be a short holiday trip in the past. Then there’s the customs and excise duties on things crossing the borders pushing the prices up. Oh, yes! I expect most of the new countries to ask to return. Hawaii is the one I don’t expect to want to return to the Union, but I do expect them to seek some sort of special arrangements with the USA. As these areas do rejoin the Union it will be a good time to realign some of the state borders.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Look at the Secession Vote results. Say all of the areas want to return. If so, why would you not take the opportunity to split California into two or three states. It’s clear there are three different political groups there due to the way it is at the moment. With New York it makes sense to split it into upper and lower New York states. Texas could do with a cut for a South Texas state. The same could be said for not allowing the seceded areas of Washington and Oregon to rejoin the state, just set them up as new states. There are other areas that can be dealt with in the same way.”

The end of the time assigned for the session is only a minute away, so the student host thanks Ernest for his time and comments.

Although the interview with Ernest is only broadcast in the local area, request for rebroadcast rights arrive in the following days, and the interview is rebroadcast across the whole of North America in the next week. Many people hear what he has to say and they start looking into a lot of things.

On item to come from the radio interview is the reduction of water of the Colorado River flowing to the Republic of California as the state of California government redirects a lot of it to the state’s farming areas who need the water for their crops. The Republic can’t complain as there is no agreement in place as to how much water will be directed to the cities. While they may have had a case to complain should no water flow their way, they can’t if the flow is reduced. The citizens of the Republic are not happy with the water restrictions placed on them before the summer even starts.

Another item from the interview is the power brokers in the Congress are reminded of Ernest and his knowledge, so they send a delegation to talk to him about the situation and to get a better understanding of the points he made in the interview. Due to Ernest’s university work contract he has to stay in Georgia, but room is made for some of his Washington team to join him to prepare some Constitutional Amendments to be put before the new Congress after the election later in the year.

The next week the Constitution Amendment Team Office is set up and working in Georgia. Not all of the people from the old team are on hand, but there are most of them, which is enough to do the job assigned to them. They’re soon extremely busy doing the research and writing for the several Amendments Ernest thinks should be put to the Congress.

In November the election goes the way Ernest predicts with both of the houses being controlled by Unionists with a Unionist President. In the first sitting of Congress after the election all of the Constitutional Amendments are passed, along with other Bills to amend the many laws affected by the Amendments.

More Constitutional Amendments

The day after the new Constitution Amendment Team Office is set up in a quiet corner of the university Ernest works at in Georgia he has a team meeting. He smiles to see his previous Office Manager is back in that role and has set up the new offices in the same way as before. The two old team members not there now hold more important jobs.

After the greetings Ernest opens the meeting with, “I’m glad you all agreed to work with me again. I’m sure you worked hard last time. This time you’ll be working harder. Our task is to list all the Constitutional Amendments and all the Proposed Constitutional Amendments along with all the documentation we can get discussing them, before and since. What will be of primary importance is the documents by the Founding Fathers on the early Amendments. Part of that is to document why some of the states didn’t support the Amendments. Along with that task we’ll need to list anything else we think should be an Amendment. Then we need to look at what new Amendments need to be written to ensure the intent of the original Amendments are met today and not distorted by the way they’ve been interpreted since they were first passed. We also need to look at legislation which should be included in an Amendment.” That’s followed a long general discussion on the extent of the work.

About half an hour later one of the staff asks, “Ernest, what legislation do you feel needs to be in an Amendment?”

Ernest respond, “I think we need a Constitutional Amendment to put all of the laws on civil rights in one place. As part of that we can include the laws like Title Nine that are being applied in ways they shouldn’t be.” On seeing their frowns he adds, “I’ve heard of cases where that law has been used to control voluntary extracurricular activities to the detriment of the students involved. By clarifying what it covers and doesn’t cover in one Civil Rights Amendment we can remove it from the other laws and make sure it’s very hard to be misapplied in the future.”

An hour later Ernest has to go and do some of his university work, so the rest get busy discussing who does what research, and doing it.

Eight months later the team has the Amendments ready, and copies are sent to all the key players in the Congress for their comment. While many questions are asked and comments made, no changes are made and the final versions are sent for presentation to Congress.

Most of the Amendments simply expand on the existing sections of the US Constitution, while some replace whole sections, and some have new material to include in the Constitution. The subjects covered in the Amendments are summarized as:

Religion: Expansion of Freedom of Religion in theFirst Amendment is to clarify the intent of involvement. No government body may make a law to promote or prohibit any religion or the exercise of it. Nor can they stop anyone from practicing their religion or displaying religious symbols in a way that is in line with other laws on activities and laws on displays of any sort. This includes practices such as quiet prayer in public places and public buildings where it doesn’t interfere with the normal activities therein. No government may pass a law requiring a person to violate the rules of their religion in their professional affairs or the exercise of their artistic talents.

Thus praying on government property is legal, and so are the displays of religious symbols as long as they meet the same criteria as other displays on the same government property. Of course blocking free movement while praying isn’t legal. This change also stops the passing of laws forcing people to act against their religious beliefs in their daily affairs, like their business activities. While the wording is more complex the intent is to allow doctors the legal right to refuse to be involved in actions that violate their religious beliefs like voluntary abortion, and to protect artists in the exercise of their artistic talents.

Right to bear arms: Expands on the Second Amendment by defining what is lawful for the people to own, and the requirement for the states to allow the bearing of arms. It limits weapons to ones where a single activation of the trigger fires one round, and the maximum bore size is one inch in diameter. It includes handguns in open carry. It also has a maximum magazine storage capacity as set by the size of the cartridge to allow for more rounds with smaller bullets.

This resolves all the state law issues on what is legal for a citizen to own. The wording limits the magazine capacities to what is supplied as a standard quantity by the manufacture and a maximum limit of thirty rounds of any cartridge with a length greater than one inch. This is to meet the intentions of the Founding Fathers in allowing the citizens to be able to defend themselves from a rogue government and other people.

Discrimination: No one is to be discriminated against or for due to any reason. They are not to have any service denied to them or given to them nor any reference for any service is to be based on any reason relating to their race, religion, gender, physical condition, ethnic group, sexual preference, social background, or political affiliation. Government funded organizations are to ensure all people have the same access to what they provide, and the same provision of services, except where people participate in voluntary service activities funded from donations.

This is to expand on the discrimination laws while also removing some of the past abuses through the misapplication of the laws. One concern is how the Title IX section of the Education Amendments of 1972 has been used to deny people participation in some of the extra activities by the volunteer after school groups.

Civil Rights: All persons to have their full civil rights as designated in the various sections of the Constitution and other federal laws with the exception of restricted freedom of movement for non-citizens in the country unlawfully.

This is to embed the rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into the Constitution itself, and to clarify the limitations of their application to non-citizens in the country without legal authority.

Prisoner Slavery: Persons in prison for more than a year may be used for forced labor on government projects, but can not be made to work for private companies or persons. Any monies received due to the work being done is to be paid to the prisoners. Thus they can be used as free unskilled labor on government projects, but the government can’t make money off of the work of the prisoners.

Clarification of this part of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Eminent Domain: Any property taken for public use may only be used for public use purposes and may not be used for commercial purposes in any way. Should the government change their mind about the use of the property it must be sold back to the original owner, or their heirs, for no more than what was paid for it to begin with, and a fair allowance of time must be made for payment if they ask for it.

An expansion of the Fifth Amendment to eliminate the opportunity of a government to abuse the purpose of the eminent domain provisions.

Citizenship: Defines a US citizen as a person born to a US citizen, regardless of place of birth, and a foreign born person who has been naturalized as a US citizen through the legal migration process. It also limits the provision of government services to its citizens and legal non-citizens. It also restricts the holding of elected positions within the government to persons who have been US citizens for ten years or more and who meet all of the other requirements of the office.

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