Repealing the Second Amendment- is it even possible?

CBS News

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called for a repeal of the Second Amendment in a New York Times op-ed Tuesday, and he urged demonstrators pressing for gun control to do the same. His bold proposal has prompted many questions about whether such a fundamental change to the U.S. Constitution is legally – let alone politically – possible…

While it’s theoretically possible to change the Constitution this way, “that’s never happened since the Constitution was ratified,” said Kevin McMahon, an expert in constitutional law and a professor of political science at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

In the history of the United States, the only amendment that’s ever been repealed is Prohibition. The 21st Amendment, in 1933, repealed the 18th Amendment, of 1919, which prohibited the making, transportation and sale of alcohol.

McMahon told CBS News it’s “very unlikely” that the Second Amendment could ever be repealed.

“It’s hard enough for gun control legislation to be passed now in the Congress which requires simply a simple majority,” he said.

A repeal would require “a sea change” in how Americans think about gun control and the right to bear arms, McMahon said.

“I would never say it’s impossible,” but “it is very difficult to enact a constitutional amendment,” he said…


How true are national tourist stereotypes and where do they come from?

The Telegraph (UK)

Germans hog sun loungers, French tourists are snobs, Americans are loud, and the English apologise too much. Sorry, but it’s true – according to national stereotypes that is.

Humans have been stamping geography-based labels on fellow Earth-dwellers since the dawn of time. At best, national stereotypes are comical, and at worst, plain racist. So how did we earn these long-standing reputations and are they fair? How long have Britons been apologising so profusely? Which German began colonising sun loungers?

Telegraph Travel conducted a thorough, scientific evaluation on the matter by addressing the experts and interrogating foreigners on their labels. (This isn’t really science, that was a joke.)…

When it comes to our negative national stereotypes, however, some of us go the opposite way and play them down, argues Jane Nadel-Klein, professor of anthropology at Trinity College, Connecticut: “When I [an American] am in Britain, I tend to speak more softly, knowing that Brits tend to ‘hear’ Americans as loud, and not wanting to confirm that stereotype. And when I return home after doing fieldwork, having been immersed in local British culture, I find American voices loud – for a few days, that is, when I’m probably just as loud as everyone else.”…


A return to earmarks could grease the wheels in Congress – By Diana Evans, professor of political science, Trinity College

The Conversation

Congress passed a US$1.3 trillion spending bill last Thursday, March 22 – only narrowly averting a third government shutdown this year. President Trump signed the bill into law on Friday.

Congress’s inability to pass spending bills on schedule has produced unrelenting frustration and criticism by commentators and members of Congress alike.

Because the congressional budgeting process has become so dysfunctional, many suggest that a return to earmarks, popularly known as “pork-barrel spending,” would grease the wheels for appropriations bills. An earmark is money provided for an individual project in an elected official’s district, as a way of encouraging that official’s vote for a spending bill.

A return to earmarking – for projects ranging from new bridges to museum funding to renewable energy research, tailored for individual members’ districts – would require lifting a 2011 moratorium imposed on the practice.

I have studied the effect of pork-barrel spending on passing spending bills. Although earmarks are worth reconsidering as a way of greasing the legislative wheels, I would argue that the case for them is mixed.

Pro-earmark arguments have come from both parties. The supporters include Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, as well as President Trump.

Simultaneously, pressure from House Republicans has led Speaker Paul Ryan to allow hearings to consider ending the 2011 earmark moratorium….


Is Saturday’s ‘March for Our Lives’ a moment or a movement?

Deseret News (Utah)

More than a million people, including high school students and their families, are expected to swarm the streets of cities around the world Saturday to participate in “March for Our Lives” demonstrations, with the goal of ending school shootings.

“No more silence, end gun violence” and “thoughts and prayers are not enough” were among the chants planned for Salt Lake City’s march, according to the organizers’ Facebook page, which has more than 10,000 followers.

“March for Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings,” the March For Our Lives mission statement reads…

Cheryl Greenberg, a professor of history at Trinity College, has been inspired by the passion she’s seen from young activists.

When you’re young you have a kind of idealism and belief you can change the world that adults don’t believe anymore. You put that together with energy and desperation and you can see tremendous things,” she said…


US Universities Won’t Punish Students for Protesting Gun Violence

Voice of America

American universities across the country are publicly supporting high school students who participate in peaceful protests against gun violence.

University admissions officials have posted on official websites and the social media service Twitter. The announcements are aimed at students who are applying for colleges and universities. They say students who are suspended for protesting gun violence will not be punished in the application process.

The statements come in response to a national discussion about how to fix the problem of gun violence in American schools…

Angel B. Perez is the vice president of enrollment and student success at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He told VOA he wasn’t trying to make a political statement or to “choose a side” in the gun debate. Instead, he was supporting students participating in protests as a way to learn and express their ideas.

“It was a representation of our values, what it is that we care about. We want students who stand up for what they believe in, who take controversial views and perspectives… that’s something we would admire in the college admissions process.”

Perez also said peaceful protests are important to American society. Right now, Perez said, people are not “constructively disagreeing with each other.” He says speaking out on social media and holding debates can move society forward on difficult issues.

“Part of what we’re trying to teach them in higher education is to mobilize and stand up for the issues that you believe in, but also learn to listen to the other side. If you are saying to students at the high school level that we are going to punish you for trying to do these things, that actually really disrupts the education process that we are trying to engage in, in higher education.”


The uncertain fate of civil religion in the Trump era

“Religion Watch” blog, Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion

Does American civil religion, a shared, generic faith based upon belief in America as an exceptional nation and marked by national symbols and rituals, have a future? Judging by reporting on the recent death and burial of evangelist Billy Graham, it seems that the idea of civil religion is alive and well. In the Religion News Service feature “The ’Splainer,” (February 28), Kimberly Winston writes that the rituals surrounding Graham’s death, such as having his body “lie in honor” in the nation’s Capitol, the first religious figure to do so, are “part of the American civil religion that can unite us all.” But according to scholars speaking at a recent Fordham University conference in New York attended by RW, growing religious illiteracy as well as the more nationalistic policies and themes of the Trump administration spell more of a death knell for this political religion…

Mark Silk of Trinity College of Hartford, CT, argued that “[w]e don’t need theism to appeal to a civil religion based on patriotism.”

Silk argued that many of the functions that civil religion was supposed to fill now have a more secular basis, as reflected in the kneeling protests in the National Football League and the protests over immigrants’ rights. Such efforts provide the “transcendent” value of equality even if they are not addressed to a religious audience, he said…