The Wikistution of the United States of America
"The Wikistution of the United States of America" is an experiment in the possibilities of twenty-first-century collaborative technology applied to a political framework inherited from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is the United States Constitution in wiki format. If this wikistution is a disappointment, the experiment would have performed the worthy service of demonstrating the value of methods we have inherited from earlier centuries. Thus the wikistution will have been a worthwhile exercise even if the experiment is a failure. If, on the other hand, we find that the wikistution can evolve prudently into a hypothetical frame of government that would more perfectly derive its just powers from the consent of the governed, better securing citizens' unalienable rights, then this project will serve as a useful example to all bodies wishing to represent and serve their constituents.
I first proposed the Wikistution of the United States to students in a class at the University of Virginia on October 25, 2006. I thought that eventually someone would start it. With the exception of some jokes, no one has. So I hereby present it, the Wikistution of the United States.
Mohandas Gandhi is alleged to have said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” We will not be disappointed if the wikistution is ignored for a period, if only to give it some time to develop before those who laugh at it add their wittiest amendments. Perhaps by then, a community of editors who see possibilities in it will care enough to delete amendments to make the Capitol building a petting zoo, and to extend the vote to hamsters.
The framers of the Constitution recognized it as an imperfect document that should be gradually improved through an amendment procedure intended to reflect the national consensus. This procedure, implemented in 1788 as Article V, still governs. It makes the Constitution, in effect, an eighteenth-century wiki, employing eighteenth-century techniques for collaborative document revision. Can we not take advantage of twenty-first-century technology to implement a collaborative revision technique that is at least equally representative and far more flexible and adaptive?
All readers are invited to add new amendments, and to revise old ones and the original seven articles. Before they do so, however, they will first have to revise the amendment procedure itself (Article V). This will presumably require a twenty-eighth amendment.
In the wikistution, italicized text in brackets ([like this]) presents provisions that were later superseded.
Table of Contents
See also Amending the Constitution
The Constitution of 1788
The Bill of Rights
- Amendment I (Freedom of Religion, of the Press, and of Assembly)
- Amendment II (Right to Bear Arms)
- Amendment III (Quartering of Soldiers)
- Amendment IV (Search and Seizure)
- Amendment V (Trial and Punishment; Compensation)
- Amendment VI (Speedy Trial; Confrontation of Witnesses)
- Amendment VII (Trial by Jury in Civil Cases)
- Amendment VIII (Cruel and Unusual Punishments)
- Amendment IX (Construction of the Constitution)
- Amendment X (Powers and Rights of the States and of the People)
Amendments XI to XXVII
- Amendment XI (Judicial Limits)
- Amendment XII (Selection of the President and Vice President)
- Amendment XIII (Abolition of Slavery)
- Amendment XIV (Citizenship Rights)
- Amendment XV (Voting Rights)
- Amendment XVI (Income Tax)
- Amendment XVII (Election of Senators)
- [Amendment XVIII (Prohibition)]
- Amendment XIX (Woman Suffrage)
- Amendment XX (Presidential and Congressional Terms)
- Amendment XXI (Alcohol Consumption Age)
- Amendment XXII (Term Limit of the President)
- Amendment XXIII (Presidential Vote for District of Columbia)
- Amendment XXIV (Abolition of Poll Taxes)
- Amendment XXV (Presidential Disability and Succession)
- Amendment XXVI (Voting Age)
- Amendment XXVII (Regulation of Pay for Congress)
The Wikistution Amendments