The shocking wave of authoritarianism unleashed during the current crisis only seems to have reinforced former Vice President Joe Biden’s view of constitutional amendments.
Speaking to Wired in an interview published Thursday, Biden said that no amendment is “absolute,” thus suggesting that even something as precious as the freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights are not set in stone.
Responding to a public curiosity about his gun control platform, Biden explained not only what he felt about the Second Amendment, but all of the similarly vital constitutional amendments as well.
“From the very beginning you weren’t allowed to have certain weapons,” Biden said. “You weren’t allowed to own a cannon during the Revolutionary War as an individual.”
“Anybody think you should be able to go out and have a machine gun these days?” Biden asked.
“The answer is no, we have a rational policy. No amendment to the Constitution is absolute.”
While much of his statement is technically true (though historians have expressed doubts regarding the existence of laws banning private cannon ownership during the Revolutionary War, according to PolitiFact), this should not be a fact that’s used to push an agenda.
Our rights to speak and worship freely, to defend ourselves with a firearm and even to have a trial by a jury of our peers all hinge on constitutional amendments that can be repealed by a difficult (but feasible) process.
Even the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, is fair game — at least if you take Biden’s reasoning to its logical end point.
This isn’t likely to win him any fans in the African-American community, especially after previous gaffes seemingly demeaning them.
Constitutional amendments — whether we’re talking about the First Amendment, Second Amendment, Sixth Amendment or 13th Amendment — are there for a reason, and it’s terrifying to think that liberal politicians like Biden are so enthusiastic about stripping away the rights guaranteed under the Constitution in order to push an agenda.
Of course, this isn’t the former vice president’s first attempt at highlighting the fact that constitutional amendments are not set in stone.
In 2019, Biden claimed that “no amendment is in fact absolute” while speaking about gun control, scoffing at patriots and others who take their rights seriously.
“These guys will tell you, the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots,” Biden said then, according to the Washington Examiner. “Give me a break.”
Fortunately for Americans, altering the framework of the Constitution is a daunting task.
Since amendments can’t be simply cut from the document due to their binding nature, additional amendments must be passed to change other ones.
Article V of the Constitution lays out the process for passing such a serious measure. First, either a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress or a convention called by legislatures in two-thirds of the states is needed just for an amendment to be proposed.
Three-quarters of state legislatures or state conventions must then ratify the amendment for it to go into effect.
While our system is built on a web of checks and balances not only between different branches of government, but also between the citizenry and the state itself, Biden’s remarks are a haunting threat to hear from a presidential candidate.
Scoffing at our rights, many of which took bloodshed to obtain, puts Biden’s flippant and dangerous view of our nation’s most important document on full display.
UPDATE, Sept. 17, 2020: This article has been updated to note that contrary to former Vice President Joe Biden’s claim that “You weren’t allowed to own a cannon during the Revolutionary War as an individual,” historians have expressed doubts regarding the existence of laws banning private cannon ownership during this time.
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