The purpose of this essay is to hold a mock constitutional convention where various issues touching on the constitution will be discussed. The questions to be discussed among the groups during this convention are:
- How should the nation address the rights of women in the Constitution?
- How should the nation address the rights of Natives in the Constitution?
- How should the nation address the rights of free and enslaved Africans in the Constitution?
- What role should religion play in our nation, and how should that be reflected in the Constitution?
There are several incidents that have happened in the recent past to give a clear picture that the fight for equal rights for men and women in America is far from over. The first point is that at least 10 million women are victims of domestic violence in the country every year. On top of that, at least three women are murdered by their boyfriends or spouses every day. This is a worrying statistic as far as the rights of women are concerned. The situation has not been made any better by the signing of the executive order "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States of America." This has made it very difficult for the undocumented women to seek justice in case they are domestically abused as they fear being deported. The second issue touching on women rights is the representation in cabinet and legislature. It is unfortunate that women constitute only 20% of the government appointments and elective seats. As much as it is an improvement from the 1960s where women had a meager 2% representation in both cabinet and legislature, something needs to be done to improve the figures (Kaplan, Temma, 98).
The first remedy to improve women rights is to tighten laws against gender-based violence. This will include coming up with legislation where universal human rights are observed in the sense that a gender-based violence case takes priority over the citizenship status of a gender-based violence victim. This means that whenever a case comes up of gender-based violence, then the case must be dealt with conclusively in respect to the rights of the victim before the issue of citizenship comes up. This will encourage the undocumented population to report any case of gender-based violence to the authorities for proper legal action. On the issue of women representation, a law should be enacted to have at least a third of the representation from either gender. This will make it mandatory for America to nominate women in the legislature and appoint more women in government to fill the deficit.
How should the nation address the rights of Natives in the constitution? Native Americans face a wide range of issues that can be addressed with the constitutional review. First, Natives are grappling with the issues of mass incarceration, murder and policing. While the Natives make up only 1% of the American population, it is surprising that they constitute 3% of the total killings by the police. They are also victims of mass incarceration as highlighted in the case of South Dakota where even as they constitute only 9% of the population in the area, a third of the prisoners in the area are Natives. This has been prompted by the overlapping of roles between the tribal, federal and state jurisdictions (Benham, Maenette & Ronald, 32). This has brought about the confusion regarding the agency that should deal with a crime that has come up. As a result, this has seen some Natives being prosecuted both at the tribal level and at the federal level. Secondly, tribal courts which should be dealing with most of the light criminal cases are not allowed to deal with them thus leaving the Natives in the hands of the federal courts which have very severe punishments for offenses brought before them thus leading to the Natives being incarcerated. Laws regarding extra-judicial killings should be reviewed so that any officer who killings unarmed civilian is served a death sentence. This will drastically reduce the extra-judicial killings of Native Americans by the police. Secondly, laws should also be repealed, so that tribal courts are given more jurisdictions to handle more cases at the local level so that cases that the Natives do not become victims of punitive sentences at the federal. This shall greatly reduce the number of incarcerated Natives as there will be more out of court settlements (Case, David & David, 47).
Another issue facing the Natives is the forced acquisition of their original land by the federal governments. The recent cases have been reported in Arizona and Hawaii where the Natives are fighting the forceful dispossession of Oak Flat site and Mauna Kea sacred mountain respectively. The Land Act should be amended so that the community has more say on the community land and how it should be utilized so that it should be to the benefit of the community and not commercial interests.
Africans form a significant population of America. Some are enslaved while others are free. However, they all face various challenges regarding their rights that can be addressed in the constitution. Some of the challenges faced by the free Africans include a high rate of incarceration. Just like the Native Americans, an African has a high chance of being incarcerated in America than a white. This has led to about two million African-Americans incarcerated now. This is a worrying trend for the free Africans who live on the edge of going to prison. While addressing the issue of Native Americans being incarcerated, therefore, the constitution must address the Africans' issue also by offering communal sentences to light offenses because most of the crimes committed by the incarcerated Africans are minor crimes that should not warrant incarceration. The second issue touching on the free Africans is about racial discrimination. As much concerted efforts have been made to avert racism, the issue is still rampant in the country. The laws should be tighter so that offenders face stricter sentence terms including life sentence. The same law regarding racial discrimination should be included in the Employment Act so that there is equal opportunity for employment for everyone regardless of gender or race (Lawson & Steven, 32).
The religion has a vital role to play in our nation. In a world which is divided along several lines, religion is very critical in realizing the values of a nation. The First Amendment states the "the Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." This law should be left as it is in the constitution. Religion is responsible for nation building through various programs meant to foster peace love and development in the country. However, it is not the role of the state to dictate to the population on which kind of religion they should associate with. American is a country with more than seven different religions and denominations that all subscribe to the constitution of the country among them Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jewish, Muslims among others. America is also known as a country that respects human rights and a right to religion is one of them. It is therefore unjust to make it a religious state as there are different groups. The state and religion should remain distinguished and religious groups be given a leeway to conduct their religious activities freely and also be encouraged to engage in programs that can bring peace to the country (Hammond, Phillip & Machacek, 67).
Benham, Maenette KP A., and Ronald H. Heck. Culture and educational policy in Hawai'i: The silencing of native voices. Routledge, 2013.
Case, David S., and David A. Voluck. Alaska natives and American laws. University of Alaska Press, 2012.
Hammond, Phillip E., and David W. Machacek. "Religion and the state." The Oxford handbook of the sociology of religion. 2011.
Kaplan, Temma. Crazy for democracy: Women in grassroots movements. Routledge, 2016.
Lawson, Steven F. Running for freedom: Civil rights and black politics in America since 1941. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.
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