R 210
97-S 347
Passed in Senate
Apr. 22, 1997

S E N A T E    R E S O L U T I O N


WHEREAS, The triumph of freedom and justice embodied in the Constitution of the United States of America gave contemporary and future generations a structure for ordered liberty that has served this nation well. Those historic decisions, augmented from time to time by amendment, gave us a Constitution which permits each generation to overcome the great social disturbances of its time. The rights of speech and assembly were protected against overbearing government; the liberation of enslaved Americans; the right of women to vote; restraints on the power of concentrated wealth; the intelligent use of government to protect the economic interests of all; the use of national military power here and abroad, have all been achieved through this Constitution framework; and

WHEREAS, The American people have well understood their Constitution, and the values and powers it embodies. Liberty, justice, and our physical and material security: these remain the goals of our generation and our hope for future generations; and

WHEREAS, A Constitution which protects our personal security in the heart of the American system. Our Constitution seeks to ensure that each person is free of the threat of attack, free of actions by others that diminish life, liberty, health, or property or that prevent the "pursuit of happiness"; and

WHEREAS, The people of the Nation are increasingly besieged by attacks on their personal security, their health and the health of their families, and their right to enjoy the air, water and natural resources of the Nation. The continuing and growing threat to the public health and the Nation's natural resources is the challenge to our generation of the kind other generations faced and overcame; and

WHEREAS, We are the custodians of the health of our children, of future generations, whose ability to breathe clean air, drink healthful water, avoid poisons, and share in the spiritual regeneration that comes from wilderness and nature is in danger. We are obliged to protect each citizen from these threats as surely as were previous generations obliged to enhance freedom, justice and prosperity; and

WHEREAS, A Constitutional remedy is necessary to accomplish this goal; and

WHEREAS, The decision to seek a Constitutional remedy is significant and necessary. The people have historically been reluctant to amend the Constitution except for the most compelling reasons. Although this body shares that view, the commitment to the public health and environmental security of our citizens and of future generations is so important, and so deeply a part of American tradition and values that it requires Constitutional status. We can no more rely on statutory protections for the environment and public health than the nation of 130 years ago could rely on law alone for the liberation of enslaved Americans, or could the nation of 80 years ago when it declared the right of women's suffrage to be a constitutional value; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby memorializes the Congress of the United States to submit to the several states the following amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

The natural resources of the Nation are the heritage of present and future generations. The right of each person to clean and healthful air and water, and to the protection of the other natural resources of the Nation, shall not be infringed upon by any person; and be it further

RESOLVED, That this Senate also proposes that the legislatures of each of the several states comprising the United States apply to the Congress requesting the enactment of the above amendment to the Constitution; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the members of the Rhode Island delegation to the Congress of the United States, the Secretary of State and presiding officers of both houses of the legislatures of each of the other states in the union, the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and the Secretary of the United States Senate.

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