A New Bill of Rights

Posted on April 22, 2014

I participated in a very fun but brief exercise called "Constitution Cafe" in which participants would discuss the US constitution and, optionally, draft a new version that better serves the needs of our modern society.

I feel strongly about rights, so I took my hand at drafting a new Bill of Rights. Here's what I came up with:

Personhood

A person is defined as (TBD).

Self-governance

Every person is self-owned and self-sovereign.

Sovereign Sphere of Dependence

In recognition that personhood is dependent upon sustenance, no person may be denied access to sustenance.

Sovereign Sphere of Independence

In recognition that personhood is dependent upon expression, no person may be denied self-expression.


These statements are broad and open to interpretation. I like it that way. I don't believe in trying to "fill in the blanks" in a constitution. That's up to lawmakers and courts.

Unfortunately the organizer of the meetings had to step down and things kind of fizzled from there. But my goal was to produce the most elegant Bill of Rights possible. There are some interesting side-effects of the language I chose. I see ramifications extending to nobody being denied access to some baseline food and shelter and with the Sphere of Independence, access to things like toilets (personal expression), in addition to the obvious free speech implications. I feel like this language provides a kind of "socialism of access but not provision" in which the system of governance is not permitted to deprive people of anything necessary for their humanity. But at the same time, like the original Bill of Rights, it does not grant or guarantee anything.

I wish we had had our discussion on personhood. Quite a bit rests on that definition.

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