Amendment XXVIII: No law governing a basic human need shall be passed in a jurisdiction whose government fails to provide citizens with the means to fulfill that need.
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If you've ever had to work for someone else, you've probably been presented with a no-win situation of someone else's making. "Be promptly at your desk at 9 am," my boss ordered me. "We can't have customers calling at the start of business with no answer." Reasonable. But it was a two-man office -- him and me -- he had the only key and he was often late. When customers complained, he'd yell at me. "What would you have me do," I'd ask, "break in?" Unreasonable.
A lot of bosses are stupid little tyrants. But government should know better than to pass a law its citizens can't obey.
Like most cities, New York prohibits public urination. It's no longer a criminal offense but public pee-ers still risk a ticket and a fine. The NYPD issues 20,000 to 30,000 such summons a year. Yet, as The New York Times noted in 2016, "New York City...is one of the most public-bathroom-resistant places in the world."
People pee. People poo. A city that chooses not to provide people to pee and poo knows that some folks won't find their way to Starbucks or other de facto public restrooms before it's too late.
The city wants people to pee and poo in public.
Experts estimate that properly equipping Gotham's streets with the thousands of toilets necessary to serve the city's inhabitants and visitors would cost tens of millions of dollars. "I gave you a pot to piss in" isn't the legacy most mayors want to be remembered for (though perhaps they should reconsider). Getting NYC to do the right thing by everyone with a bladder would require ratification of my proposed 28th Amendment.
If nothing else, those who answer nature's call in the streets and avenues could do so without fear.
Some people charged with a crime have successfully used the "necessity defense" that the harm they committed was necessary in order to avoid a greater wrong or harm. If you're trying to escape from someone trying to kill you, a judge should dismiss the charge that you trespassed on private property to get away.
Yet, even though it defies common sense, American law still permits government to pass laws that are impossible to follow. In June the California Supreme Court ruled on a law requiring gunmakers to microstamp bullets fired from semi-automatic weapons with unique identifying information.
The court's ruling was complicated but it included this gem: "impossibility can occasionally excuse noncompliance with a statute, but in such circumstances, the excusal constitutes an interpretation of the statute in accordance with the Legislature's intent, not an invalidation of the law." In other words, an impossible-to-follow law can be passed and no court can invalidate it. Each individual who wants to be exempted on the basis of impossibility must hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit.
The Impossible Law Amendment (ILA) would ensure that any law deemed impossible for any citizen to follow would be overturned on constitutional grounds.
Impossible-to-follow laws are more common than you might think.
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