Conservative talkradio host Mark Levin made news Thursday when he addressed the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a “non-partisan membership association of state lawmakers,” and it wasn’t just because he reiterated his call for an Article V “Convention of the States” to propose new amendments to the Constitution.
Levin’s call for an Article V Convention of the States has been well known since the publication of his best-selling book, The Liberty Amendments, more than a year ago.
On Thursday, Levin framed the Article V Convention of the States as the beginning of the process in which state legislators can reassert their constitutional power and become, in effect, the kind of check on the out-of-control federal government the framers expected the three branches of federal government they created in the Constitution would be on each other.
“Take your power back,” Levin told the enthusiastic crowd of state legislators from around the country.
Critics who claim an Article V Convention could become a “Runaway Constitutional Convention” miss the point entirely, Levin said. Critics think such a convention would have no impact, as the federal government is ignoring the Constitution already and would have little reason to observe any amendments, subsequently ratified by the states, that emerged from the Convention of the States.
“So if you ask me what makes you think the federal government will follow amendments to the Constitution if it won’t follow the Constitution today, then you don’t understand this process,” Levin told the audience.
“By giving the state legislatures the ultimate say on major federal laws, on major federal regulations, on major Supreme Court decisions, should 3/5 of state legislatures act to override them within a two year period,” Levin said, ” it doesn’t much matter what Washington does or doesn’t. It matters what you do.”
“The goal is to limit the entrenchment of Washington’s ruling class,” he stated.
“If you’re going to go through this process, don’t get myopic. Don’t get caught up in one issue,” Levin added. “This is a structural, systemic issue. We’re trying to restore the republic and save what’s left of the Constitution.”
Although he did not explicitly use the term “fifth branch” to describe their powers, Levin told the state legislators that they are the only uncompromised institutional force left in the country. As such, they can serve as a check on the power of what is now the four branches of the federal bureaucracy–the legislative, executive, and judicial branches created in the Constitution, and the extra-constitutional fourth branch that has emerged–the unbridled federal bureaucracy.
In effect, Levin argued that the state legislatures, as a group, can function as a constitutional fifth branch of government which has a constitutional responsibility to hold the other now-four branches (three constitutional and one extra-constitutional) in check.
State legislators must exercise their constitutional authorities, Levin said, because “the United States is no longer a federal republic, a constitutional republic. ”
“We are mutating into something else… In Washington today we have an ongoing constitutional convention,” Levin told the crowd. “Rather than the branches checking and balancing each other, they are re-enforcing each other.”
“The Democrats in Congress and the President–they don’t believe in America’s founding principles. That’s what fundamental transformation means, ” Levin said.
“Laws are rewritten and unenforced by a President,” Levin added, as he built his case that the states must reassert their authority. “Congress confers legislative powers on departments and agencies of bureaucracies of their creation, which in turn seize further power to legislate in ways that usurp you [state legislators], your states, your people.”
“The Courts have claimed the final say on any issue in which the courts want to have a final say.”
“Wide-ranging decisions that affect our lives are being made by fewer and fewer masterminds in Washington, D.C.”
“More and more of what the federal government does is insulated from elections.”
“The trajectory,” Levin said, is “towards utopian statism, concentrated power.” The federal government, Levin stated, is characterized by “willful concealment of deliberations.”
Its actions that promote “centralization and concentration of authority are all intended to evade the Constitution.” The consequence of continuing along this path, Levin argued, are dire. “It will collapse our economic system and society. A total catastrophe.”
Levin then laid out the challenge and opportunity facing state legislatures.
“My question to you is: Where does this end?,” Levin asked. “We are not without recourse,” Levin noted. “We’re not some cult over here; we’re the majority.”
“Congress,” he said, “was never intended to be a super-legislature over you [the state legislatures]… they don’t have plenary power. No one ever asks them, under what authority are you passing this law? They don’t care!”
“Acting together, the state legislatures have more power than the entire federal government.”
“You have a duty under the federal Constitution… to save [the republic]. It ought to be your number one priority when you leave here.”
You can watch Levin’s entire speech here: