Conservative pundit Mark Levin has written a book entitled The Liberty Amendments (which debuted at #1 on Amazon) which calls for a Constitutional convention to propose amendments that would rein in the power of the federal government. (Under Article V of the Constitution, 2/3 of the states could call such a convention. That would mean 34. It would take 3/4 of the states to ratify any amendments that were proposed.)
The idea is picking up supporters from Rush Limbaugh to Senator Tom Coburn, from Tea Party activists to Conservative think tankers. And efforts are being organized to sell the notion to state legislators.
After the jump: A list of Levin’s proposed amendments, an excerpt from a review discussing them, and thoughts from me.
What do you think of this idea? Would it work? Should it? Could it get the support of enough states? What do you think of the individual amendments he is proposing?
HT to Southern Review in Amazon reviews:
~ An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Members of Congress
~ An Amendment to Restore the Senate (repeal of the 17th Amendment)
~ An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices and Super-Majority Legislative Override
~ Two Amendments to Limit Federal Spending and Taxation
~ An Amendment to Limit the Federal Bureaucracy
~ An Amendment to Promote Free Enterprise (redefining the Commerce Clause)
~ An Amendment to Protect Private Property (curbing abuses under the Takings Clause).
~ An Amendment to Grant the States Authority to Directly Amend the Constitution
~ An Amendment to Grant States Authority to Check Congress
~ An Amendment to Protect the Vote (requiring photo ID)
From John Hayward, Mark Levin’s “Liberty Amendments” | Human Events:
One of the Liberty Amendments “sunsets” all federal departments and agencies, unless Congress reauthorizes them every three years by majority vote. Every big-ticket Executive Branch regulation would be subjected to review by a joint congressional committee. This amendment would pull the plug on the unstoppable federal bureaucracy, forcing every department to perpetually justify its existence, and terminating President Obama’s beloved practice of circumventing Congress to legislate by decree.
Another Liberty Amendment likewise reins in the judicial branch, setting term limits for Supreme Court justices, and giving Congress the power to override Supreme Court opinions with a three-fifths vote, without risk of presidential veto. Three-fifths of the state legislatures can also join forces to knock down a Court decision. That’s a recurring theme of the Liberty Amendments: the restoration of both congressional and state power. As Levin repeatedly reminds us, nothing worried the Founders more than the rise of a despotic national executive, such as the one we have now. The original states never would have signed on to a federal government that turned them into puppets. There were strong logical arguments against these outcomes, which power-hungry progressives understood quite well, back when they first set about overturning the Constitutional order. Modern progressives don’t think they need to understand those arguments any more, because the foundation of the total State has been laid, and the clock can never be “turned back,” as one of their favorite slogans has it. This should leave them at a severe intellectual disadvantage, if the Liberty Amendments become a topic of national debate.
Some of Levin’s proposed amendments are intended to clarify language that already exists in the Constitution, such as the much-abused Commerce Clause – lately interpreted as a warrant for unlimited federal control of all human activity, although the Founders most certainly did not intend it to be taken that way. Our language has changed over the centuries, always in a way that expands the Left’s desire for centralized control. The authors of the Constitution would find our current understanding of the word “commerce” to be utterly deranged – indeed, they might even ask what the point of their Revolution was, if “interstate commerce” was to become a writ for powers beyond the wildest dreams of daft old King George.
Two of the proposed Liberty Amendments are devastating blows against imperial federal power, making it easier for states to amend the Constitution, and giving them a brief window of opportunity to strike down both congressional legislation and Executive Branch legislation. Levin also makes a compelling argument against the Seventeenth Amendment, which provided for the direct election of United States senators. Senators were supposed to be instruments of the state legislatures, while the House of Representatives would be filled by popular vote. I have never read a better explanation for why this was important, and how it gave state governments a vitally needed hand in the crafting of federal legislation.
I’ve also seen no better case made for term limits on Congress, as Levin astutely points out that not only do Jurassic representatives-for-life distort the distribution of power in Congress, but they invest a great deal of our national energy (and funding!) in maintaining their 85-percent-plus re-election rate. Surely some of those “safe” districts would merely replace Retiring Party Drone A with New Party Drone B, but as it stands, far too many representatives discover they can most easily secure lifetime tenure by representing the Leviathan State instead of their constituents, tapping the federal treasury to purchase reliable voters.
But might such a convention unravel the Constitution? And the left has some tinkering with the Constitution that it wants to do. Many would love to do away with the Second Amendment. The feminists want to bring back the Equal Rights Amendment. And some would love to enshrine abortion and sexual orientation into the Bill of Rights.
Levin says that the enabling legislation he is proposing from the states would limit the convention’s purpose to just considering amendments that would limit the powers of the federal government and increase those of the states. But liberals could frame their at least some of their amendments to fit that constriction: “The Federal government shall make no law restricting a woman’s right to an abortion.”
The movement also seems to be working with the assumption that conservatives and conservative states are the majority. In the last presidential election, there were 26 blue states (that voted Democratic) to 24 red states (that voted Republican). While it is true that blue states too might want more power and so theoretically might agree to a convention, who knows what might come of it?