Kings’ country: Library launches town hall series to amend US Constitution

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Can I get an a-mend?One participant at the March 5 event, shown holding a copy of the Constitution, discusses a possible 28th Amendment.
Photo by Gregg Richards

We the People of Brooklyn, in Order to form a more perfect Union, are going to make some changes!

A series of town-hall meetings across the borough, organized by the Brooklyn Public Library, is crowdsourcing ideas for the next update to the country’s founding document. The dozen-or-so “28th Amendment Town Hall” sessions will capture the needs of modern Americans in a way, according to the series organizer.

“Constitutions are almost poetic documents because you try to describe the life of the community and the society,” said Jacob Orsos, the library’s Vice President of arts and culture.

The Constitution was last amended 1992, when the 27th Amendment regulated wage changes for members of Congress, and Orsos hopes the forums will suggest ways to adapt the text to reflect the technological and societal changes of the last 28 years. 

At the first session, at Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Macon library branch on March 5, dozens of people made a wide range of proposals for the 28th Amendment, including allowing formerly-incarcerated people to vote, help people struggling with housing, and providing universal health care.

Others advocated getting rid of the 231-year-old document entirely and starting from a clean slate, said Orsos.

The talks, taking place at branches of the book lending agency, high schools, correctional facilities, and possibly senior centers, will each feature one or two moderators who guide the discussions, while library staffers record the suggestions from the audience.

By the end of the series, a half-dozen “Framers” will create a draft proposal for a new Amendment for the U.S. Constitution based on those meetings, and a final, refined amendment should be ready by mid-October, a few weeks ahead of the November presidential election.

Orsos, a Hungarian native, thought up the project when he became a US citizen, and he worked with the library and the American Civil Liberties Union to create the five-month series.

During his naturalization process, he learned about the Constitution and how it has changed over the centuries.

“The nature of these efforts is ever-changing, but always looks back at its original form,” he said. “It’s a moving effort of mankind to try to describe mankind.”

“28th Amendment Town Hall” every two weeks at various locations. Next event at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Sunset Park branch [4201 Fourth Ave. at 43rd Street in Sunset Park, (718) 435–3648, www.bklynlibrary.org]. March 24 at 6 pm. Free.