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There are now 25 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. Jefferson once said that the Constitution should be rewritten every 19 years or so, so that each generation would have a say in how their government was designed.

  2. Raen says

    For the sake of my sanity, I’m just going to assume that none of these delegates represent historical figures…

    • That’s for the best. Unless someone’s identified by name, don’t think of them as being one specific person or another. In this case, each individual is standing in for the entire delegation from a state. In other cases, individuals will be standing in for groups of delegates who shared a position.

    • Unless, of course, the delegate is really short (in which case it’s probably Madison), really tall (in which case it’s probably Washington), or Ben Franklin-shaped (it which case it’s probably Franklin).

      • Madison’s already been introduced, and he’s also wearing that particular blue and grey suit, and that… that hair. It’s like a spaniel, but bobbed… and with a widow’s peak… and also a ponytail, if you catch the right angle.

        Fun fact: These guys didn’t really wear powdered wigs, for the most part. That was usually their actual hair, which might be powdered. (The powder mostly stayed on, thanks to pomade and natural oils, but the worst case of dandruff has nothing on the smudgy drifts of greasy powder on their shoulders, or smeared on their backs by those ponytails. Portrait painters usually left that detail out, though if you look you can find a few who kept it in.)

        Also, those curls, that ponytail, that ribbon… that was not considered girly or frou-frou. It was goddamn macho. And like most macho haircuts, it was the soldier style of the day. Your valet (if you were gentry) or your tiemate (if you were common) grabbed your flowing locks and yanked back as hard as possible. It was meant to hurt like hell, but you were man enough to take it. (There’s a reason so many of them had such high hairlines!) The ribbon tied most of the hair out of the way for fighting, and if the ponytail was long it’d be “clubbed”. The hair on the sides was rolled up, and that’s the look.

  3. Ann Ominous says

    Which color is which state?

  4. psionl0 says

    I’m probably premature here but I am guessing that none of the delegates thought that there was no need to change the constitution. All you need to do is stack the Supreme Court with judicial activist who insist that the constitution is a “living breathing” document and suddenly the constitution says whatever the judges say it says.

      • The Supreme Court didn’t start ruling things “unconstitutional” until 1803, if that’s what you mean. Might be hard to say how much any given delegate at the convention expected the way that sort of precedent would build up.

        • The Supreme court also has a knack of ruling things “constitutional” even though the wording of the constitution might imply otherwise.

          For example, the 4th and 5th amendments don’t appear to do anything to prevent property seizures on the basis that the property MIGHT be the proceeds of crime – even if the owner hasn’t even been charged with an offence.

          • What you think the Constitution implies and what a group of people who have studied and interpreted law constantly throughout their very long lives might be two entirely different things. And even then, this group of people who are supposedly the greatest experts in this country in law interpretation rarely agree on what it says. Heck, even then they agree, they disagree – I think I saw one decision that was something along the lines of 5-2-1-1 – everyone agreed that the result should be overturned, but for four different reasons.

            Also, remember each case is different. Just because two cases look the same doesn’t mean there’s one minor wrinkle that changes the way the law applies completely.

            As for your example…first, it looks like the court has ruled that if the search that led to the seized property was invalid, then the seizure is as well. So the 4th Amendment does protect you there. Second, while each state has a different standard of proof, they still need to show evidence that the property (usually money) has connections to criminal activity to seize it. And last, even if you haven’t been “charged with a crime” (would you rather they did?) or are completely innocent, why should you get to keep it? If it’s ill-gotten gains, you don’t have a right to it, regardless of if you acquired it legitimately. It sucks, but that’s life. Be more careful with who you associate next time.

            • It is obvious that you don’t agree with the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”. Innocent people ought not be subject to a penalty. That was the intent of the bill of rights. Just because your cash might have been handled by a drug user some time in the past before you received it (in a completely unrelated transaction) does not mean that the cash is automatically the property of the state.

              Unfortunately, most of the protection given to citizens by the bill of rights has been magicked away by legalistic trickery.

              • Kind of a leap to “I don’t believe in the basic fundamental principal of our legal system” there, isn’t it?

                And no, just because your cash was handled by a drug dealer doesn’t mean it should be forfeit. However, just because you didn’t know your ex, who bought you that car, was a drug dealer who bought it was drug money doesn’t give you a right to keep the car. Every case is different.

                The Fourth Amendment means a cop can’t just stop your car for no reason and take it. That’s no different. They need evidence. If they have enough evidence to seize your stuff, they’ve already satisfied the Fourth Amendment. I don’t see legal trickery there.

                mikecody: If they can find the rightful owners, they do get it back to them. If there is no “rightful” owner (drug money), who should get it? I’d rather see it funneled back into law enforcement than in the hands of a drug dealer.

                If they can show the property wasn’t used in criminal activity, they do have to give it back. Unfortunately, it can be a bitch. Forfeiture is a civil procedure, so the protections aren’t as strong, the defendant needs to take the initiative, and they have the burden of proof. That probably needs to be addressed.

                • “The Fourth Amendment means a cop can’t just stop your car for no reason and take it. That’s no different. They need evidence. If they have enough evidence to seize your stuff, they’ve already satisfied the Fourth Amendment. I don’t see legal trickery there.”

                  Then you just aren’t looking. Try reading some of these seizure cases. The police may not have lawful authority to seize your cash but the point is that the onus is on the individual to launch legal action to recover the cash otherwise they lose it by default.

                  And they don’t get to be a litigant in the case. It always worded as “The state vs $xxxx”. Why? because otherwise it would be a bill of rights issue but property has no rights. And this is sanctioned by the Supreme Court. How such enemies of the constitution get appointed to the SC in the first place is beyond me.

                  • I’m not going to bother discussing cases where the police aren’t bothering to follow the law. Because the point is they aren’t following the law. You still have your rights. They’re just ignoring them. That’s a different issue.

                    Yes, it’s on you to fight for your property back. Yes, that sucks. No, it doesn’t violate any Constitutional rights, it’s just how things work. There are circumstances where you might be completely innocent, but benefiting from a crime. The process could be changed to make it easier, I’ll agree with that.

                    Your last paragraph is complete nonsense (and calling people who have dedicated their lives to upholding and interpreting the Constitution enemies of it is pretty outlandish). It doesn’t matter if it’s a civil or criminal case, your rights still apply, and apparently it doesn’t matter if the case is brought against the owner or the property itself. I’m seeing some pretty odd case names like “One 1958 Plymouth Sedan v. Pennsylvania” and “United States v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Mass.”, but in both those cases the forfeitures were overturned. If you can show me a case where the SCOTUS actually handed down a ruling that says “The government can keep your property even though it’s been shown to have no connection to criminal activity whatsoever”, I’d like to see it.

                    • “Yes, it’s on you to fight for your property back. Yes, that sucks. No, it doesn’t violate any Constitutional rights, it’s just how things work.”
                      That may be how the courts decided it should be but it is not how it is written in the constitution.

                      The 5th amendment clearly says that nobody can be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”. Although the three words appear in the same sentence, property is treated differently to the other two. Nobody can be jailed without being charged with a crime. Sometimes a writ of habeus-corpus has to be issued to make the police do the right thing but certainly nobody would be expected to launch costly legal proceedings to demonstrate that they should get their liberty back if they haven’t been charged with anything. However, that’s what they have to do for their property.

                    • The 5th Amendment refers to criminal cases. These are civil cases. Looking into it, it looks like the idea of civil seizing of assets by the government goes back to before long before the colonies were even founded.

                      For what it’s worth, it does look like a loophole that needs closing (I’m more defending the court than the practice here).

                      And hey, apparently you can bring a suit against an item. Looking on WIkipedia is giving me some fantastic case names, like “United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins”, “United States v. One Tyrannosaurus Bataar Skeleton”, and probably the best one, “United States v. 11 1/4 Dozen Packages of Articles Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo-Fly Powders for Drunkenness”

                    • “The 5th Amendment refers to criminal cases. These are civil cases.”

                      The 5th amendment says “due process of the law”. It does not distinguish between civil or criminal cases.

                    • On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case on whether civil asset forfeiture comports with Due Process. But they declined because the issue hadn’t been raised below. Justice Thomas added a short opinion [link] indicating that, if the question were to be properly raised, they might find serious constitutional problems with the practice.

            • “If it’s ill-gotten gains, you don’t have a right to it”

              If the state were taking the cash or property to return it to the original owner, I might agree with you. But just because it is the proceeds of a crime somewhere in the past, why does the state have a right to keep it?

              On a related note, Why does the state not have to immediately return seized cash or property if the defendant is found not guilty? There is no reason why a person the court has found did not commit any crime should have jump through hoops to recover his own property.

  5. Sean Work says

    One of your composite characters says that his state constitution doesn’t include any provisions for amendment. Do those constitutions survive intact to this day? Did they figure out some sort of workaround?

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