Correspondence

Don't Mess With the Texas Constitution

The constitution of the state of Texas, my friends, is not what you carry to the beach for light summer reading. Light? Not at 90,000 words and 377 amendments. As Dr. Johnson said of Paradise Lost, "No man ever wished it longer." Yet longer it gets, election year by election year, as the sovereign voters tack on more elaborate changes.

The constitution was written in 1875. Texas had finally struck off the shackles of Reconstruction. A fractious mood was upon the political leadership; Whatever those damyankees and carpetbaggers had done wasn't going to happen again, you could go to the bank on that. Texas acquired perhaps the most strictly controlled governmental structure in the United States, which it retains to this day.

And wouldn't you know it? That isn't good enough for various progressive reformers who want Texas to scratch up a new constitution for a new century and millennium.

The legislature—which, under present constitutional stipulations, hadn't met since May 1997—has before it an earnest proposal for a document that would achieve just this lofty end. It would clear away impediments to dynamic action, as Capt. Henry Shreve over a century ago cleared the snags inhibiting travel on the Red River. The proposed new constitution would emphasize efficiency and Getting Things Done. It would free us from dalliance and indecision. (Pssst: This dog is going nowhere....

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