DECEMBER 29, 2014
• The Power of the States—Part IV
What is America?
Regardless your answer, good or bad, you have the freedom to express it and to contribute in efforts preserving or correcting the reality you perceive. This may be difficult to comprehend because the federal government has become massive and powerful while the means through which citizens exert power (the 50 united States) has become weaker.
But it behooves us to remember that the States created the federal government, originally limiting it to enumerated (specifically listed) powers while reserving all other powers to the States and their citizens. Among the benefits of this limited federal authority is your freedom to flee when things become untenable and unalterable in your State. Of course, the ever-enlarging regulatory over-reach of the federal government has vastly expanded, thus tremendously increasing the various forms of tyranny that are inescapably applied nation-wide.
I will concede that there are some regulatory authorities assumed by the federal government which, in a modern society, are natural extensions of the Framers’ intent. But there are a vast array of federal powers being exercised well-beyond the scope of the Framers’ intent—and even common sense.
How did this happen? Well, in The Federalist, No. 51 of 1788, James Madison illustrates what was supposed to have happened, to wit:
The “auxiliary precautions” to which Madison referred were the checks and balances between governmental departments. Unfortunately, these have not been sufficient to offset a public progressively ignorant of responsibilities through city, county, state and national voting; the onslaught of deteriorating influences and, especially; government representatives wielding unchecked authorities at critical junctures in history.
Numerous examples of unchecked authority abound. One of the more obvious is the Supreme Court. This court has assumed the role of the final arbiter of all things legal in the United States. In a Free Republic how is it justice that 9 men in robes decide the fate of an entire nation?
By what twist of reason and common sense can this court determine that it is legal to regulate an individual’s activity as interstate commerce when that activity is absent from interstate commerce? It did this in Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942). (Do not write me about the court’s argument that the absence of interstate commerce has impact on interstate commerce: By that measure of tyrannical reasoning, we should be regulated because anything we choose not to do or buy impacts the marketplace in which we didn’t do the deed or didn’t buy the product.)
Or what restraint is there on a court that creates the illusion of a separation of church and state where none existed? It did this in Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing, 330 U.S. 1 (1947). In this case, Justice Hugo Black wrote, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”
This idea was a reverse engineering of President Thomas Jefferson’s private correspondence to Baptists in the community of Danbury, Connecticut. Therein he wrote: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
To simplify: Jefferson’s position was that any law regarding religion—be it a law endorsing or prohibiting the practice of religion in any arena, including the government, would result in building a wall that separated the Church from the State. In short, Jefferson was fearful of building the very metaphorical wall that was later erected by Justice Hugo Black (a former Alabama Ku Klux Klan member appointed by FDR in 1937).
As of this date, perhaps the most recent and horrendous Constitutional infringement by the, “High Court,” is in ruling that the citizen MUST enter into a private contract for healthcare (the results of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obama Care).
At its worst, the Supreme Court is wresting tyranny from the very jaws of freedom through their oligarchical legal arguments that form a foundation of secular absolutism for a Democracy (as opposed to a Republic).
The aforementioned examples are well-known and touch the lives of every American—which is why they are cited. Lesser known examples of equal scope are found across the entire spectrum of our federal government. But rather than citing a laundry list of our deteriorating freedoms, my aim is to focus on the broad range of systemic problems that have brought us to the present state of affairs. Here, then, is that broad range reduced to a list:
• The nature of Congressional service
• The nature of Congressional power
• The nature of Senatorial service
• The nature of Supreme Court service
• Supreme Court Legislative reach (via tortured Constitutional interpretation)
• The nature of federal spending
• The nature of federal taxing
• The nature of the Federal Bureaucracy
• The nature of Free Enterprise in American society
• The nature of infringement on private property
• The nature of the State power (as in the 50 united States)
• The nature of the vote
Certainly, this is an ominous list. With such erosions occurring on so many fronts, how can we, the citizens, possibly defend—let alone advance—our form of government that was bought with the precious price of so much spilled blood?
The answer—the only real American answer—has already been given to us by the very men who formed our government. That answer is found in the Constitution. You see, the Constitution provides for two methods of Constitutional amendment, the second of which has been only discussed—but never utilized. That method is through a process implemented entirely by the State Legislatures regardless of what the Federal Government itself my want.
Yes, you read that right. The Constitution empowers the States to completely set aright our ailing federal government.
If that seems impossible to believe, then you’re invited to read my three blog postings about this very thing. Due to the fact that those blog postings address startling concepts and actions, they will likely provide more exciting reading than this blog entry. You can find those postings here:
The sum of those blog entries is this: At Article 5 of the United States Constitution is a clause that enables two-thirds of the State Legislatures to make application to Congress to call a Convention for proposing Amendments to the Constitution. These Amendments would then need to be ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the states or by Conventions in three fourths of the states.
Just think about that! The states could literally band together and reclaim government.
You say you’re tired of professional Congressmen? We can create an Amendment to limit the Congressional term of office. You want to limit the term of a Supreme Court Justice? Create an Amendment. You want to have a way of overriding Supreme Court decisions? That’s right, create an Amendment. You want a national balanced budget or maybe limit federal spending to a percentage of the GDP? Create an Amendment. Are you sick and tired of the IRS—maybe you want something a little more Just: Like everyone paying a flat percentage?
Whatever the problem, this can fix it.
“But wait,” you say. “Couldn’t this get out of hand? Couldn’t the forces we are trying to overcome, co-opt the effort?”
No. The reason is in the very language of Article 5. The process is three-fold. First, a successful petitioning of Congress depends upon two-thirds of the State Legislatures. This is not just, anybody. It means the citizen-elected voting bodies of two-thirds of the States are required to call for a convention created to propose Constitutional Amendments only. Secondly, the Amendments themselves would then need to be written by the representatives of the states. And, thirdly, Constitutional Amendments would then need to be ratified (passed into Constitutional law) by the Legislatures of three fourths of the states (or conventions in those states).
These are large hurdles. And rightly so. No one amends the Constitution on a whim. And considering the political diversity of the country, no one—not even the detractors of our Republic—can dominate such a process.
So, perhaps you are now convinced that the process cannot be high-jacked. In fact, my illustriously written oration is so overwhelming that you find your opinion to the very opposite: You think that such a process is so difficult to achieve that it’s a pipe dream to even contemplate—let alone, attempt.
Au contraire, mon ami! As indicated in the blogs referenced herein above, the effort is already underway.
Further still, an Internet search will reveal that the topic has received a lot more attention than you might expect. So much so, that you may wonder where to start or in whom you should place faith. In fact, you may read of more than one group attempting this very thing. None of those attempts are a bad thing.
But you should be careful. You do not want to line the pockets of people merely promoting or cashing in on the concept of a Convention of the States.
As indicated at Article 5 of the Constitution and illustrated above, it is the legislatures of the States that will petition Congress. So, while there are writers and groups advocating this matter, you should look for States’ official stamps of approval OR the involvement of Legislative representatives from the States.
Thus, my recommendation is the group that gave rise to this series of blogs on the Power of the States.
They were formally known as, The Mount Vernon Assembly, taking their name from the location of their first meeting. However, the group has reported that the name was, “co-opted,” for profit by others and so they have altered their own identification to, The Assembly of State Legislatures, Inc.
Now, before you fly-off the rails at seeing a, “corporation,” at work, bear in mind that the creation of a corporation provides the structure necessary to effect change: Profits and Nonprofits (the latter of which is at work here) routinely utilize the corporate structure to interact with government in order to make change and/or pursue the interest of people who might not otherwise have an effective voice. In that regard this is no different.
Most importantly, this group—the Assembly—meet my criteria of official State approval OR the involvement of Legislators from various states. In fact, as of December 2014, the Assembly was comprised of 75 legislators from 28 states showing an interest in the Convention of the States process.
That, my friend, is demonstratively legitimate.
So far, the Assembly has met in December 2013, in June 2014 and in December 2014. Near the bottom of this blog is a link to CSPAN’s coverage of the December 2014 meeting—it is actually coverage of the first meeting scheduled over the course of two-days.
A word of warning: This is not flashy, headline-grabbing coverage. This is 4 hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds of procedural trench-work necessary to the purpose at hand (the online time of 4:59:27 includes the dead-air of a break and dead-air at the end).
Here are some of the highlights at that link (time indications are in hours, minutes and seconds):
00:02:28: Number and identification of attendees.
00:40:33: Definition of the group, purpose and nomenclature.
00:46:28: Membership defined (that being the 50 states and representatives thereof).
01:17:00: Beginning discussion of the group bylaws—in particularly how states will appoint representatives to the Convention body. This begins a lengthy discourse on the bylaw language the group drafted out of the June 2014 meeting.
02:21:20: Discussion of bylaw language at Article I, Section 2.
02:35:41: Discussion of bylaw language at Article I, Section 3.
02:39:58: No disagreements of bylaw language at Article II, Section 5.
02:40:15: Discussion of bylaw language at Article II section 8.
03:17:00: Proposal for a near-future conference call regarding bylaw language disputes.
03:18:50: Discussion of bylaw language at Article II, Section 3.
03:39:15: Committee report regarding prior, June 2014, meeting.
03:46:50: Sub-Committee report regarding 36 States having made previous applications to Congress for the Article V Constitutional Convention process that were unrelated to the Assembly’s effort.
03:51:10: Discussion concerning Congress’s prior lack of regard for States appealing for the Convention process and about the political will for going forward.
03:54:28: Discussion concerning Congress’s previous barriers to the Convention process and how, going forward, every state should utilize the exact same or similar language in Convention applications to Congress.
Here is the CSPAN link:
The Assembly of State Legislatures web site:
So, once again, it is your turn. Go spread the news. Educate and motivate your fellow-citizens. You are not powerless but only you can make your voice matter by using it.
And through the power of our Federalism—the power of our several States—you and I will make a difference.