On Friday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott provided a glimmer of hope for constitutional conservatives who want to see a restoration of balance between the massively overweening federal government and the increasingly irrelevant state governments.
Abbott released a 70-page summary of his plan for a new convention of states that would lead to constitutional amendments under Article V, as Mark Levin has proposed, and he named the amendments he would like to see pursued.
When measured by how far we have strayed from the Constitution we originally agreed to, the government’s flagrant and repeated violations of the rule of law amount to a wholesale abdication of the Constitution’s design. That constitutional problem calls for a constitutional solution, just as it did at our Nation’s founding.
Abbott goes on to detail the fact that the founders saw the individual states as the best counter to the power of the federal government—as he says, “the entire structure of the Constitution was premised on the idea that the States would be stronger than the national government.” Therefore, Abbott argues, “the States must step up and lead; and thanks to the Founders’ prescience, the Constitution itself provides the path forward.”
Titling his effort “The Texas Plan,” Abbott suggests nine amendments to the Constitution:
- Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State.
- Require Congress to balance its budget.
- Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—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.
The vast majority of these amendments are structural corrections designed to fight the federal government’s dismissal of basic constitutional principles. For example, the federal government never had the power to regulate intrastate commerce.
Abbott’s proposal to prevent the federal government from regulating intrastate activity is really just a re-enshrinement of the original principle that the federal government only has power over interstate relations, not goings-on within the states. The Supreme Court has destroyed the original meaning of the “commerce clause,” and with it, all boundaries to regulation. Abbott argues, “the limitations inherent in the Commerce Clause became politically inconvenient.” The amendment, he says, would correct this wrong:
[Congress] would be prohibited from regulating some of the things the Commerce Clause has erroneously been used to regulate—such as a farmer who wanted to produce and consume his own wheat without buying or selling anything to or from anyone out of state. And it would be prohibited from regulating some of the entirely noncommercial conduct that Congress currently regulates—such as the noncommercial “harassment” of a tiny spider that is born, lives, reproduces, and dies without ever leaving its cave, much less entering the channels of commerce or crossing state lines. That would go a long way to restoring the balance between State and federal power.
That’s nothing new—it’s just a reminder of what the Constitution always said. The same is true with regard to new restrictions on the judiciary power, which was never meant to encompass rewriting law wholesale on behalf of a fictional Constitution existing inside Justice Anthony Kennedy’s head. It’s true, too, of an administrative power never granted to the federal executive branch in the Constitution.
Abbott is quickly becoming a conservative leader—and many see him as a possible presidential contender in future races. This new, important manifesto is just one reason why.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, Editor-in-Chief of DailyWire.com, and the New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.