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为什么美国宪法这么难修改? – 译学馆
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为什么美国宪法这么难修改?

Why is the US Constitution so hard to amend? - Peter Paccone

当美国宪法在1789年被通过时
When it was ratified in 1789,
它不仅成立了一个被人民选出的政府
the U.S. Constitution didn’t just institute a government by the people.
它还保证了人民拥有修改宪法的办法但是
It provided a way for the people to alter the constitution itself.
从建国到2016年的这几个世纪里 11 000条修订草案中
And yet, of the nearly 11,000 amendments proposed in the centuries since,
只有27条被成功录用所以
only 27 have succeeded as of 2016.
为什么宪法如此难以改变呢?
So what is it that makes the Constitution so hard to change?
简单来说:宪法的创建者
In short, its creators.
美利坚的国父们要将十三个殖民地
The founders of the United States were trying to create a unified country
联合成一个合众国为此
from thirteen different colonies,
他们需要确认他们的决定不会被轻易更改
which needed assurance that their agreements couldn’t be easily undone.
这些是他们决定的
So here’s what they decided.
一个修正草案想要被提议
For an amendment to even be proposed,
它在众议院和参议院中必须得到
it must receive a two-thirds vote of approval
三分之二的投票
in both houses of Congress,
或是赢得全国三分之二的州提议
or a request from two-thirds of state legislatures
从而促成一个全国会议
to call a national convention,
这只是第一步
and that’s just the first step.
要到改变宪法这一步
To actually change the Constitution,
修正案必须被四分之三的州同意
the amendment must be ratified by three-quarters of all states.
每个州可以让它的制法人员来对修正法案进行投票
To do this, each state can either have its legislature vote on the amendment,
也可以召集由投票者选出的众议院议员
or it can hold a separate ratification convention
举行多个会议来通过
with delegates elected by voters.
正因为有了如此高的门槛
The result of such high thresholds
今天的美国宪法十分的稳定
is that, today, the American Constitution is quite static.
世界上大多民主国家每几年就会通过一项修正案
Most other democracies pass amendments every couple of years.
但在就美国来说 1992年以来就没有这样的记录
The U.S., on the other hand, hasn’t passed one since 1992.
说到这里 你可能开始好奇到底有多少条修正草案被通过前十条
At this point, you may wonder how any amendments managed to pass at all.
被熟知为《权力法案》
The first ten, known as the Bill of Rights,
囊括了美国几条最有名的“自由”权力
includes some of America’s most well-known freedoms,
比如说言论自由
such as the freedom of speech,
以及受到公平审判权
and the right to a fair trial.
这些都是一起通过的
These were passed all at once
为的是解决制宪会议出现的一些分歧
to resolve some conflicts from the original Constitutional Convention.
很多年以后 第十三修正案废除了奴隶制
Years later, the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery,
第十四和第十五条相继
as well as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments,
在残酷的内战后被通过
only passed after a bloody civil war.
修改修正案随着国家的扩大以及多样性
Ratifying amendments has also become harder
变得愈加困难
as the country has grown larger and more diverse.
第一个被提议的修正草案
The first ever proposed amendment,
是关于任命国会众议员的方法
a formula to assign congressional representatives,
在1790时就开始讨论是否要通过
was on the verge of ratification in the 1790s.
但是随着越来越多的州加入合众国
However, as more and more states joined the union,
需要数量达到三分之二的基数也变大
the number needed to reach the three-quarter mark increased as well,
导致其到今日还未被通过如今
leaving it unratified to this day.
有很多被建议的修正草案
Today, there are many suggested amendments,
包括将焚烧国旗变得非法
including outlawing the burning of the flag,
执政者的期时减少
limiting congressional terms,
或是废除第二修正案(持枪权)
or even repealing the Second Amendment.
虽然很多人支持这些提议但是通过的可能性非常小
While many enjoy strong support, their likelihood of passing is slim.
如今的美国 是自内战以来 政治观点最两级分化的
Americans today are the most politically polarized since the Civil War,
这使得国家很难达成一致的看法其实
making it nearly impossible to reach a broad consensus.
前一任最高法院法官Antonin Scalia
In fact, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
曾计算过 在美国现有的政府代表系统下
once calculated that due to America’s representative system of government,
只要百分之二的人口就可以阻止一条修正法案的通过当然
it could take as little as 2% of the total population to block an amendment.
解决这个问题的最好方法是将宪法变得容易更改些
Of course, the simplest solution would be to make the Constitution easier to amend
将限制更改或是提议的条款减少
by lowering the thresholds required for proposal and ratification.
但是这又需要立一个新的修正草案其实
That, however, would require its own amendment.
历史性的改变与进步大多归功于美国的最高法院
Instead, historical progress has mainly come from the U.S. Supreme Court,
它的势力已扩大到可以介入美国已有的宪法
which has expanded its interpretation of existing constitutional laws
使其紧随时代的变迁但是
to keep up with the times.
最高法院的法官并非是选举出的
Considering that Supreme Court justices are unelected
并且是终身任命制
and serve for life once appointed,
这又与所谓的民主
this is far from the most democratic option.
相差甚远有趣的是 美国的国父自己也许也遇见到了这个问题
Interestingly, the founders themselves may have foreseen this problem early on.
在一封写给James Madison的信中
In a letter to James Madison,
Thomas Jefferson写到法律应该每19年就更换
Thomas Jefferson wrote that laws should expire every 19 years
不要使法律需要人们去改变和废除它
rather than having to be changed or repealed
因为每一个政治过程都会遇到很多
since every political process is full of obstacles
对立于人民的意愿的阻碍
that distort the will of the people.
虽然他相信
Although he believed
宪法的基本条款会将永存
that the basic principles of the Constitution would endure,
他更强调了世界是属于当代的人们
he stressed that the Earth belongs to the living,
并非逝者
and not to the dead.

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