Our Opinion: Unintended consequences of unnecessary amendments

Here's a novel criminal defense strategy - Missouri's constitutional right to farm trumps state law prohibiting growing marijuana.

We have no idea how a Cole County circuit judge will rule on the motion filed by public defender Justin Carver on behalf of a defendant.

But the pleading underscores the potential mischief caused by growing tendency to elevate accepted practices to constitutional rights. Here are some examples.

Last year, Missouri voters approved a gun rights amendment, despite the protection already established in the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment and the historical continuity of gun ownership since the nation's founding.

In March 22 in this forum, we referenced an unintended consequence of that amendment. We wrote: "A March 2 News Tribune story reported: "... a St. Louis City circuit judge ruled Friday that the (gun rights) amendment changed the state's law prohibiting convicted felons from possessing firearms. ... Before voters approved Amendment 5 last summer, the law clearly said (a felon previously convicted of a weapons charge) couldn't have a gun, because of his felony conviction.'"

The most recent unintended consequence of amending the constitution to include a right to farm is a defense lawyer's assertion that Missourians have a right to grow anything, which nullifies state law prohibiting the growing of marijuana.

And among proposals this legislative session is a constitutional amendment granting parents a "fundamental right to raise and educate their children."

If such an amendment is approved, we can only imagine the legal strategies that will be concocted to excuse unacceptable and aberrant parental behavior as educational.

We repeat our contention that this constitutional amendment-itis reflects legislative laziness and, worse, it is downright dangerous.

Although some lawmakers may have good intentions, others latch on to popular issues - gun rights, farming, parenting - to grab the spotlight and to improve their re-election bids by attracting like-minded voters to the polls.

Whenever a constitutional amendment is proposed, we encourage Missourians to consider whether it is necessary and, more importantly, to envision the worst-case scenario if it passes.