There was the Brexit movement with all of its fallout. Much still to come.
Right now, there is the Donald Trump movement and what that could mean to the United States.
And soon, the push for a constitutional Article V convention may be in the same classification.
“This is a movement,” spokesman Mark Meckler of the Convention of the States told WND on Wednesday.
Eight states already have adopted a call to Congress for such a convention, the group now has supporters in every state legislative district in the nation, and 1.45 million activists are working on the project.
The idea is that the nation has gone so far off the rails that the states need to come together, recommend amendments to the Constitution and set some new boundaries for the bureaucracies, the executives, the judges, even the lawmakers in Washington.
That idea is the focus of a new policy brief from The Heartland Institute’s Robert Natelson, a senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence there. He also was a professor of law for 25 years and taught First Amendment and constitutional history, among others.
He explains a first step would be what’s known as “interposition,” an idea voiced by James Madison in The Federalist No. 46 when he said, “Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular states, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand.”
That means the U.S. Constitution has ways for citizens to fight the feds.
In straightforward fashion, Natelson explains, individuals can engage in “throwing the bums out” as well as “individual lobbying and disquiet.” Or simply refusing to cooperate.
But Madison also raised the issue of the “state duty to resist federal overreaching as the duty to ‘interpose.’”
States are involved because Madison’s ideas included:
- State-coordinated campaigns of public and political education – that is, public relations;
- state lobbying efforts directed at Congress;
- state-led lawsuits;
- state legal provisions designed to hinder or fail to cooperate with federal actions;
- interstate coordinate of all of the above; and
- the Article V convention.
Most of the items have already been tried.
So it’s that Article V convention that now is developing.
It’s the constitutional provision that states can call a convention, proposed amendments to the constitution, and Washington has to step out of the way, essentially.
For example, states could add term limits for Congress, a requirement for a balanced federal budget, a ban on courts reviewing certain issues, such as marriage, and more.
Meckler said he expects proposals to be considered in another 38 state legislatures over the coming year, driven by polls that 72 percent of Americans say the “federal government is too big and does too much.”
He described America’s issues as not “personnel problems” but “structural problems.”
That means the rules need to be changed because simply swapping out members of Congress, or a president, or a judge, won’t impact the nation enough.
It’s surging, he said, because Americans are now in their own “communities,” online and elsewhere, more than they have been since the nation’s founding.
To make a convention go, 34 states need to call for it. Any resulting amendments that are proposed then, would need the support of lawmakers in 38 states.
There are those who warn of a “runaway” convention that could destroy the Constitution, but he said the three-quarters approval requirement defuses that.
For example, any attempt to take away gun rights could be stopped by lawmakers in either state legislative house in the 13 most conservative states.
He said progressives have done well in their campaign of disinformation over the past few decades, scaring people away from what the Constitution provides is the solution to a runaway Washington.
Natelson pointed out the founders’ opinions:
Madison, for example, stated, “The states … have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintain within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”
Founder John Dickinson said, “The government of each state is, and is to be, sovereign and supreme in all matters that relate to each state only. It is to be subordinate barely in those matters that relate to the whole; and if will be their own faults if the several states suffer the federal sovereignty to interfere in things of their respective jurisdictions.”
Natelson also cited the “extraconstitutional” efforts: nullification and revolution.
It is not recognized by the Constitution, he wrote, but nullification “refers to a state law declaring one or more federal laws void within its boundaries of the state.”
But the source of the idea was the Kentucky Resolutions from 1798, by Thomas Jefferson, at a time when only half the states adopted the idea that states could not act as final authority on the constitutionality of federal law.
Finally, there’s revolution.
“As The Federalist No. 46 makes clear … Madison did agree that under certain circumstances the people have the natural right to revolt against a government and establish another.”
Natelson said, “The American founders stressed the importance of state responses to federal excess, both on behalf of the states themselves and to protect the citizenry. … State officials take an oath to preserve the U.S. Constitution. Madison and other founders further emphasized state officials’ obligation to interpose in a constitutional manner when the people are threatened by federal overreaching. Such interposition is not a mere option.
“It is a solemn duty.”
WND commentator Thomas Sowell addressed the idea, stating that the opposition from progressives is ironic, since “no one has messed with the Constitution more or longer than the political left, over the past hundred years.”
It was Woodrow Wilson who said the document was an impediment to “reforms” he wanted.
Equality has been overridden for diversity, and judges routinely make changes in the Constitution, he noted.
Under the “Texas Plan” announced at the time, he would:
- Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
- Require Congress to balance its budget.
- Prohibit administrative agencies, and their unelected bureaucrats, from creating federal law.
- Prohibit administrative agencies – and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them – from preempting state law.
- Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
- Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
- Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
- Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
- Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a federal law or regulation.
His call for action came during the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s annual policy orientation.
A similar call to action was issued by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., just a few weeks earlier.
“Gov. Abbott should be commended for his willingness to endorse an Article V convention and realizing that Washington, D.C., is not able to fix our problems. A state-led constitutional reform effort is the only way to prevent another slow economic recovery from ever happening again,” commented Kyle Miachle, project manager at Constitutional Reform in the Heartland Institute.
And Peter Ferrera, a senior fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy in the same group, said, “I applaud Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in supporting the states acting under Article V of the U.S. Constitution to call for a Convention of the States to propose Constitutional amendments to be ratified by the states that would restrict the increasingly oppressive runaway powers seized by the federal government.
“Such amendments are badly needed to restore the original concept of the rule of law to America. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott previously served as the longest running attorney general in the history of Texas, where he learned of the problems he is addressing first hand.”
It is the Tenth Amendment that’s already in the U.S Constitution that should come into play. That said all the rights not specifically given to Washington in the Constitution are reserved to the states and people.
“These increasingly frequent departures from constitutional principles are destroying the rule of law foundation on which this country was built,” Abbott said. “We are succumbing to the caprice of man that our founders fought to escape. The cure to these problems will not come from Washington, D.C. They must come from the states.”