Proposition One




[First of three papers by
Joseph Vigorito

National legislatures and executives derive their power from their constitutions. Constitutions limit the power of governments, and guarantee "inalienable" rights to individuals. All laws, bills, regulations, and other social contracts must be in compliance with that supreme law.

Proposition One Committee believes multi-national Constitutional Amendments may well be necessary in order to compel government officials to obey the will of the people. Constitutional amendments in the U.S. may be precipitated either by Congress or by voter initiatives.

Voter initiatives may either be binding or non-binding. A non- binding form of voter initiative (such as D.C. Initiative 37) merely requests action by the government. In the case of Proposition One, so far, we are using non-binding voter initiatives to simply ASK our Congressional leaders to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We hope this will be sufficient, because many people are still afraid of the more- binding type of initiative available, one which compels Congress to call a Constitutional Convention.

The following three papers discuss the various ways a Constitutional Amendment may be effected in the United States.


[In 1990 and 1991, Joseph Vigorito wrote this and the following two papers about Constitutional Amendments -- "ARTICLE V, U.S. CONSTITUTION: the Article of Change," and "CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS-SOME INFORMATION" -- which we believe are of interest to anyone considering a Constitutional Amendment. The following is a result of his research, slightly edited to bring it up to 1995. Ellen Thomas, Editor]


When considering the mechanics of how to eliminate nuclear weapons, only amendments to the constitutions of all the nuclear powers, roughly at the same time, is likely to work. Congress and the President, with all the pressures placed on them by the multi-billion dollar defense industry, won't eliminate these weapons without the mandate of the people and the force of Constitutional law. Non-binding resolutions and referenda have been ignored all too easily. This government won't do it unless the people will.

The initiative process, coupled with the provisions of Article V of the U.S. Constitution, combine to directly provide the people with a practical method of solving the mega-overkill problem by amending their Constitution. Given the inaction of their elected officials, the only constitutional alternative left to the people is the "sovereign power" vested, by the Constitution, in the people. This power is manifest in the initiative process.

As President Woodrow Wilson put it, "In order to clean house the one thing we need is a good broom. Initiatives and referendums are good brooms."

Therefore, with care toward correct wording of each initiative's text -- to insure that the initiative cannot be struck down by the courts for "stepping on the President's toes" -- there is no impediment to amending the Constitution by winning the election in '96.

In all other constitutional theories the power is placed somewhere else. The British theory for example: "According to the English Constitution, absolute despotic power must reside somewhere in all governments, and in Britain this power is entrusted to Parliament." (Maxwell vs. Goetschius, 40 NJL 383.)

In the U.S., however, no less than 20 federal precedents affirm that "sovereign power" resides in the people.

"The theory of the American political system is that the ultimate sovereignty is in the people collectively, acting through the medium of constitutions to create such governmental agencies, endow them with such powers, and subject them to such limitations as in their wisdom will best promote the 'Common Good.'" (First Trust Co. v. Smith, 277 NW 762. Cited Am.Jr. 2nd.)

Amendments to the Constitution -- [authorized by Article V in the U.S. Constitution and by similar clauses in other nations' constitutions] -- only occur when fundamental changes are required -- changes that are so basic and broad that nothing but a constitutional change could provide a remedy. The right of women to vote and the right not to be enslaved could never have been legislated with any lasting effect by some lesser means.

It is this lasting effect, within the framework of each individual country's own laws, that must be achieved in order to promote trust in the inter-relations of countries.