Monday, March 12, 2018

The Point Is Simply That Numbers Should Be Used In The Correct Order

This is another Indiana-specific post.  The issue that it concerns is not a pressing one, and the substance of the issue is not particularly important.  However, ever since a "Section 39" was added to Indiana's Bill of Rights (Article 1 of Indiana's Constitution) at the end of 2016, the people of Indiana have been stuck with the embarrassment of having a state Bill of Rights in which its "Section 37" is immediately followed with its "Section 39", making it look as though we simply forgot about the number thirty-eight.  (There is a reason why Section 39 was added to the Constitution without a Section 38 having been previously added, but there is nothing about that reason which prevents us from now renumbering Section 39 to make it Section 38, or from inserting a worthwhile provision as Section 38.)

To amend Indiana's Constitution, two consecutive General Assemblies must pass the same proposed amendment, after which time the proposed amendment is submitted to voters for their approval or rejection of the proposal.  Two days from now, the second and final session of this General Assembly is scheduled to end, and during neither of its sessions has it approved a proposed constitutional amendment to fix this numbering problem.  As a result, the process of fixing this flaw will now last at least until the end of 2022 (other than in the unlikely event that a special session of this General Assembly is called in order to allow it to propose the needed amendment this year).

I admit that the omission of the number thirty-eight in the numbering of the sections of Indiana's Bill of Rights does not pose any great danger to the people of Indiana, or to anyone else.  However, it would be such an easy error to correct that I see no excuse for failing to correct it.  I do not anticipate any serious controversy over the proposition that the number thirty-eight is the proper number to immediately follow thirty-seven and immediately precede thirty-nine.

If the General Assembly would rather insert a new Section 38 than renumber the existing Section 39, I recommend that it base its proposed Section 38 on the following, comes from the English Bill of Rights: "That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void".