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house Bill H. Joint Res. 54

Should the Constitution Be Amended to Include the Right to Housing, Healthcare, Education & Nutrition?

Argument in favor

The right to housing, healthcare, education, and nutrition are easily recognized on their face as human rights worth enshrining in the U.S. Constitution as an amendment. While the U.S. is already a signatory on international conventions recognizing the rights this amendment would recognize, those international agreements are nonbinding and don’t have the force of law domestically.

Thelma's Opinion
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07/04/2019
It’s already in the preamble, but not spelled out. “We the people of the United States”...”promote the general Welfare”... So welfare IS in the constitution, and as Americans we are supposed to provide it. Republicans gave welfare the ugly racist overtones it now has. But it couldn’t hurt to spell it out.
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···
07/04/2019
These are minimal necessities for survival. The bigger issue, is that most of these necessities are kept unattainable to most, due to the 1% Control over the Capitalist markets that they control, as well as the politics the 1% Control. On top of that, the 1% and corporations have bastardized food for profits, such that the food available to most citizens, is synthetic chemicals (Franken-food), that is causing major health problems, in which Republicans and 1% have kept away from Citizens and made unattainable.
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Sharon's Opinion
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07/04/2019
Isn’t that, in part, what “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” means?
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Argument opposed

The Constitution already recognizes the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — which can easily be interpreted as including the rights to housing, healthcare, education, and nutrition without a politically daunting ratification process. Additionally, the U.S. is already a signatory on international conventions recognizing the rights that’d be included in this proposed Constitutional amendment.

BacktotheRight's Opinion
···
07/04/2019
No. Having s pulse doesn’t guarantee you anything other than one day you won’t have a pulse. Life requires work and great things require dedication and perseverance. If you aren’t willing to put in the work and struggle you don’t earn those benefits. Things can’t just be handed out to everyone. I don’t want a 68% tax rate like all these European countries that do guarantee all of these things. LIKE MY TAKE? GIVE ME A FOLLOW
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Tommy's Opinion
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07/04/2019
Is this a joke? Are they just putting things like this up to keep us on our toes? I say this! Human rights is not the rights to anything tangible it is the right to be human! It is the right live or die rise or fall on your own terms and by your own merits. This is the land of opportunity not free stuff. If any bill like this ever gets off the ground I will disappear into the woods and barring that find another way to fight. To strip the need for individual merits, for competition and cooperation is to strip our humanity
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Doug's Opinion
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07/04/2019
This proposal is not needed. You are free to pursue these under the constitution and that is the same thing. If you are saying that government and by extension taxpayers are required to provide these to anyone, you are out of your ever-loving mind!
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joint resolution Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMarch 28th, 2019

What is House Bill H. Joint Res. 54?

This resolution would amend the U.S. Constitution to recognize the right to affordable housing, cost-effective healthcare, quality education and adequate nutrition as fundamental rights necessary for creating a society in which every citizen is truly equal. 

As a proposed constitutional amendment, this resolution would have to pass both chambers of Congress with a two-thirds vote and be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures (38 states) to amend the Constitution and take effect.

Impact

Human rights in the U.S.; the Constitution; and states.

Cost of House Bill H. Joint Res. 54

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Alma Adams (D-NC) introduced this Constitutional amendment to ensure the fundamental rights to housing, healthcare, education, and nutrition for all Americans

“If we are going to fulfill our nation's promise of equal opportunity, we must ensure every American has access to the tools needed to make opportunity possible. For far too long, our priorities haven't reflected the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enshrined in our Constitution. We must make a commitment to invest in every man, woman and child in our nation by providing adequate funding for federal affordable housing programs, improving our healthcare system, addressing inequality in the public-school system, and expanding access to quality nutrition."

In the same letter, Rep. Adams’ office also provided key statistics illustrating the need for housing, healthcare, nutrition and education to be enshrined in the Constitution and protected as rights. Highlights are summarized below:

  • Housing: The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reports an 8.7 million unit shortage of rental housing which has led to millions of renters being cost-burdened or homeless. On any given night, approximately 550,000 U.S. families are homeless and on a yearly basis, 2.5 million American children are homeless. 
  • Healthcare: Millions of Americans forego basic healthcare needs and ration or skip life-saving prescriptions due to the cost of standard care. Bankruptcies due to medical bills are the number one type of bankruptcy proceeding in the U.S. Despite effective federal programs’ existence (i.e., Medicare, Medicaid, DOD TRICARE, VHA, IHS and SCHIP), 28 million Americans remain uninsured. 
  • Nutrition: On a daily basis, 40 million Americans struggle to put food on their tables. There are approximately 12.9 million children who lack consistent access to enough food to live active, healthy lives. Although 58% of food-insecure households participate in major federal food assistance programs (i.e., SNAP, the National School Lunch Program and WIC), these programs still haven’t ended hunger and food insecurity in the U.S. They are also insufficient, with SNAP benefits providing only $1.40 per meal.
  • Education: Investment in public schools, especially those serving low-income and minority students, has consistently decreased in the 21st century while private school funding has dramatically increased. This is widening the gap in educational attainment between wealthy and low-income Americans. 

Writing for the Pacific Legal Foundation blog in March 2018, Sacramento-based attorney Tim Snowball argued that government isn’t the source of our rights, and therefore has no authority to create new rights. He also argued that “inherent human equality and the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness possessed by all regardless of particular circumstances” are the only rights

“[T]he entire purpose of government is to protect the preexisting natural rights of individuals. Governments are not founded in order to create new rights and arbitrarily dispense benefits upon preferred groups, but to secure rights that existed before governments were ever created. It is the people, therefore, who give the government its power, without which it would be powerless, and without which it cannot legitimately act… [T]here is no such thing as ‘women’s rights,’ or ‘gay rights,’ or ‘minority rights,’ which can be granted, modified, or restricted based on nothing more than the political winds or desires of fluctuating majorities. There is only inherent human equality and the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness possessed by all regardless of particular circumstances. These rights exist beyond the reach of any government’s power.”

This joint resolution has the support of three Democratic cosponsors and the Food Research and Action Center.


Of NoteThe right to housing has been codified by a wide range of International legal instruments under the umbrella of the auspices of the UN. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly on 1948, was the first important document codifying the right to adequate housing. Article 25 of the UDHR says:

"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

Thus, the UDHR also recognizes the right to healthcare and has been signed by all 192 member states of the United Nations (including the U.S. in 1948), but it is not a binding treaty.

Within the U.S., President Franklin Roosevelt declared in his 1944 State of the Union address that the U.S. had a “Second Bill of Rights,” including the right to a decent home. More recently, in 2010, President Barack Obama called it “simply unacceptable for individuals, children, families, and our nation’s veterans to be faced with homelessness in this country.” In March 2011, the U.S. made commitments to the UN Human Rights Council to “reduce homelessness,” “reinforce safeguards to protect the [homeless people’s] rights” and continue efforts to ensure access to affordable housing for all. 

Then, in October 2016, the U.S. signed onto the New Urban Agenda, which was the outcome report of the UN Habitat III conference. Signatories to that document committed to promoting “national, sub-national, and local housing policies that support the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing for all as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, that address all forms of discrimination and violence, prevent arbitrary forced evictions, and that focus on the needs of the homeless, persons in vulnerable situations, low income groups, and persons with disabilities, while enabling participation and engagement of communities and relevant stakeholders, in the planning and implementation of these policies including supporting the social production of habitat, according to national legislations and standards.”

In its 2018 Advocates’ Guide, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reported that the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) all addressed criminalization of homelessness as a human rights issue on their websites. Additionally, all three agencies had implemented human rights bodies’ recommendations on this issue.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / ellisonphoto)

AKA

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States recognizing and securing the fundamental right to life, liberty, and property, which includes housing, health care, education, and nutrition.

Official Title

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States recognizing and securing the fundamental right to life, liberty, and property, which includes housing, health care, education, and nutrition.

    It’s already in the preamble, but not spelled out. “We the people of the United States”...”promote the general Welfare”... So welfare IS in the constitution, and as Americans we are supposed to provide it. Republicans gave welfare the ugly racist overtones it now has. But it couldn’t hurt to spell it out.
    Like (116)
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    Share
    No. Having s pulse doesn’t guarantee you anything other than one day you won’t have a pulse. Life requires work and great things require dedication and perseverance. If you aren’t willing to put in the work and struggle you don’t earn those benefits. Things can’t just be handed out to everyone. I don’t want a 68% tax rate like all these European countries that do guarantee all of these things. LIKE MY TAKE? GIVE ME A FOLLOW
    Like (139)
    Follow
    Share
    Is this a joke? Are they just putting things like this up to keep us on our toes? I say this! Human rights is not the rights to anything tangible it is the right to be human! It is the right live or die rise or fall on your own terms and by your own merits. This is the land of opportunity not free stuff. If any bill like this ever gets off the ground I will disappear into the woods and barring that find another way to fight. To strip the need for individual merits, for competition and cooperation is to strip our humanity
    Like (87)
    Follow
    Share
    This proposal is not needed. You are free to pursue these under the constitution and that is the same thing. If you are saying that government and by extension taxpayers are required to provide these to anyone, you are out of your ever-loving mind!
    Like (68)
    Follow
    Share
    These are minimal necessities for survival. The bigger issue, is that most of these necessities are kept unattainable to most, due to the 1% Control over the Capitalist markets that they control, as well as the politics the 1% Control. On top of that, the 1% and corporations have bastardized food for profits, such that the food available to most citizens, is synthetic chemicals (Franken-food), that is causing major health problems, in which Republicans and 1% have kept away from Citizens and made unattainable.
    Like (63)
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    Share
    That means the right to Welfare actually! Right? I say NO! How about get a damned job!
    Like (47)
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    No, the Constitution should not be changed to included communist fantasies.
    Like (46)
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    No. This is socialism and it doesn’t work.
    Like (45)
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    People should have to work for these things. Our country is heading in the wrong direction with these liberal movements. We already have taxes that are too high with less than half of us paying into the system. These are not government funded programs, they are tax payer funded!
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    As a philosophy or as a resolution to guide legislation this is great. A constitutional amendment is a very big deal and, even though it has no chance of being ratified, needs a lot of thought regarding unintended consequences. For example, I could make an argument to increase the price of my exclusive wonder drug by 10,000%, and “constitutionally” collect these fees for years while the courts adjudicate the validity of my pricing. As a developer, I could provide housing padded with arguably “constitutional” necessities. I can see property developers and drug manufacturers licking their chops should this amendment be ratified. I think in general terms, ‘“the pursuit of happiness” and “provide for the general welfare” constitutional phrases broadly address the resolutions. I do not oppose this amendment but I find it difficult to endorse without a great deal of study and thought about potentially adverse consequences and the requisite restructuring of governmental agencies and processes to support it.
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    Isn’t that, in part, what “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” means?
    Like (36)
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    Of course not, that would be overkill!! The rights are already in place. Opportunity abounds for all those who employ personal responsibility to improve their lives.
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    I’m opposed to amending our constitution for garbage like this. Education isn’t the job of Federal government, nor nutrition; that’s the parents job, healthcare is the individual states responsibility. #MAGA
    Like (32)
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    It’s the patriotic thing to do! And if any of you out there or religious or have certain morals the ethics, helping thy neighbor Is a beautiful thing to do. It creates a sense of community. This would help the overall morale and togetherness of our country. I am all for this! :-)
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    No, the Bill of Rights is a negative list, not a positive one. The list says what government cannot do to us, not what it should do for us. JFK ask not what it can do for you! When government must do, that requires it to take from others to do it. So to say you get free food, healthcare, whatever, someone had to have it taken from them first. So I lose food, so you can have it? I have less healthcare, so you get free aspirin? Government doesn’t make anything, earns nothing, cannot make wealth. Thus, it can only provide for its citizens by stealing it from those that produce, earn, make. NO!
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    We have the right to access it. We do not have a right to be given them.
    Like (25)
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    A constitutional amendment to add socialism to our constitution? No way!!!
    Like (24)
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    Yes, we need to take care of the 99% before giving our money to the 1% and large corporations. Enough is enough, the 99% has given so much to this country and has received so little while the rich get richer the rest of us keep loosing our standards of living and much more.
    Like (22)
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    No. Nobody has the right America owes you nothing. You owe America:- To get off your ass and WORK and “ Make America Great Again “.
    Like (20)
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    You work, Government owes you nothing! Get off your dead asses and work!
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