Whether in early 2017 it’s President Hillary Clinton, President Jeb Bush, President Chris Christie, President Joe Biden or someone else, the individual occupying the Oval Office would face new limits on executive orders, Commerce Clause actions, a balanced federal budget and a ban on using international treaties to govern inside the U.S. if a state-based movement is successful.
There could even be term limits for Supreme Court justices and Congress, and a mandatory sunset of all existing federal taxes.
The ideas are being discussed in legislatures where a Convention of the States has been proposed, according to an organization known by that very name.
The Convention of States Project, launched by Citizens for Self Governance, is working to have state lawmakers call such a convention through the Constitution’s Article V.
Thousands of Americans already have signed on in support of the idea that Americans, themselves, need to address Washington’s massive spending, over-regulation and takeover of authority from states.
State lawmakers in Alaska, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and elsewhere are now looking at plans that if approved would be submitted to Congress in support of a convention.
Michael Farris, who has been know for years as the face of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, now is on the front line of seeking a convention in which state delegates would meet, agree on a path for the country and then tell Congress what will happen.
Exactly that, if the amendments are proposed at the convention and ratified by the states.
The organization proposes a convention for “the purpose of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.”
“We believe the grassroots is the key to calling a successful convention,” the promoters say. “The goal is to build a political operation in a minimum of 40 states, getting 100 people to volunteer in at least 75 percent of the state’s legislative districts. We believe this is very doable. Only through the support of the American people will this project have a chance to succeed.”
Among the issues that could fall under the single subject would be a balanced budget amendment, a new definition of the General Welfare Clause, a redefinition of the Commerce Clause, a ban on the use of treaty provisions inside the U.S., limits on executive orders, term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court, federal tax limits and a sunset of all existing federal taxes.
“Of course, these are merely examples of what would be up for discussion,” the promoters say. “The convention of states itself would determine which ideas deserve serious consideration, and it will take a majority of votes from the states to formally propose any amendments.”
Farris told WND he expects support for a convention to be gathered over a period of two to three legislative cycles.
The timing would align with the 2016 presidential election.
Farris said it definitely would throw a wrench in the works.
“In my opinion, a good wrench,” he said. “We are convinced that Washington, D.C., is broken and that it will never, ever fix itself.”
He said all three branches need fixing.
“The judiciary legislates, the legislative branch, the Congress uses power it never was intended to have, and the president misuses power worse that George III ever thought of,” he said.
He earlier told WND that Washington, D.C., “will never voluntarily relinquish power.”
“If we allow Washington, D.C., to continue on its current course of big government, it will utterly destroy American liberty. Debt is the most tangible method of destruction. But big government complete with spying on the American public, the improper use of executive orders, over-regulation, etc., etc., will most certainly destroy American liberty relatively soon.”
See the case for a Convention of the States:
Farris said trying to elect more conservatives hasn’t worked, and there really shouldn’t be a fear that the Constitution would be opened up to destruction. After all, any change would have to be approved by votes in 38 states.
“The Founders gave us Article V for the very purpose of creating structural change when the federal government abuses its power,” Farris said. “State legislatures control this process from beginning to end. Governors are irrelevant. Congress can only name the time and place. State legislature name the delegates and give them their instructions.
“We will either get good amendments or we will get nothing,” he continued. “The people who must approve the work product – state legislatures – are the ones who name the delegates. They are also the ones who give the convention its subject matter.”
Would anyone be interested in the idea of removing federal officials?
“State legislatures currently have no power to impeach federal officials from their states. This is not a viable option. This would, however, be a proper amendment to suggest at the Convention of States we are proposing. I like the idea of giving the state governments the power to impeach congressman and senators from their states,” Farris said
“The federal courts regularly refuse to rule on constitutional issues they want to avoid by calling them ‘political questions’ or by claiming that no one has standing to sue … One of my ideas for an amendment would be to automatically grant state legislatures standing to challenge any action of the federal government as violating its constitutional limitations,” he said.
There also could be a fix to the problem of an entrenched Supreme Court.
“I [would] propose reconfiguring the Supreme Court after the model of the European Court of Human Rights. There are 46 nations in that court’s jurisdiction, and every nation appoints one judge. We should expand the Supreme Court to 50 justices and have the states appoint the justices for a specific term (six or eight years) with no right of reappointment. That one change would do more to ensure a constitutional government than anything I know,” Farris said.
The Convention of States Project contends that “who decides what the law shall be is even more important than what is decided.”
“The protection of liberty requires a strict adherence to the principle that power is limited and delegated,” the organization explained.
Even the Supreme Court has acknowledged the federal government has overreached, stating in a 1992 case: “The federal government undertakes activities today that would have been unimaginable to the Framers in two senses; first, because the Framers would not have conceived that any government would conduct such activities; and second, because the Framers would not have believed that the federal government, rather than the states, would assume such responsibilities.”
The organization has posted details of how state legislatures can advance the project.