Three Republican Texas state legislators pre-filed legislation on Tuesday that if passed, would make the Lone Star State the eighth state to call for an Article V convention of states.
Article V, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution allows for a convention of states to restrict the power of the federal government. It requires two-thirds of the states in the U.S. to call for a convention to propose and consider necessary amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
In January 2016, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called on Texas to join other states in calling for an Article V convention to write new amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as reported by Breitbart Texas. Abbott’s 100-page Texas Plan “fixes this government run amok” and “returns lawmaking to the process enshrined in the Constitution,” he said. Abbott explained he was calling for legislation authorizing Texas to join other states in calling for a convention of the states and that it would be part of the 2017 Texas Legislative session. Any amendment would have to be ratified by three-fourths of all state legislatures or conventions. An amendment could be defeated by a negative vote of just 13 states.
Abbott’s plan adds nine amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The reforms are intended to reinforce existing amendments. Abbott explained, “We combed through the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers, through court decisions from Chief Justice John Jay through Chief Justice John Roberts. Through every scrap of relevant materials all the way up to the executive office. We distilled the information into nine amendments to the Constitution that will restore the Rule of Law in America.”
During his speech, Abbott said “Our government was founded on the rule of law rather the caprice of man. That rule of law flows from our Constitution. That Constitutional foundations is now so often ignored that the Founders would hardly recognize it. Until we fix that foundation by restoring the rule of law all the repairs we seek through the policies you propose will never lead to lasting solutions.” He noted, “The problem is these departures from the Constitution are not the aberration, they are now the norm.” He pointed to the threats on the Second Amendment, and the overreach of presidential power and ignoring of the separation of powers. President Obama repeatedly exceeded executive powers to “enact” heavy-handed and burdensome regulations to promote his agenda.
In November 2014, the Obama administration bypassed Congress and issued an expansive executive amnesty order that was litigated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Besides immigration, the President also ignored Congress and exceeded executive powers when implementing far-reaching regulations for climate change and healthcare reform.
When calling for a convention of states earlier this year, Abbott also reprimanded the U.S. Congress saying, “Congress is no better. They used to consider whether a proposed law could be squared with Congress’ Constitutionally enumerated powers.” He added, “Today’s approach is captured by the former Speaker of House. When asked to identify the Constitutional authority for Obamacare she angrily replied: ‘Are you serious?’” He also said that the U.S. Supreme Court was a co-conspirator in abandoning the Constitution. He said, “Instead of applying laws as written, it embarrassingly strains to rewrite laws like Obamacare.”
These increasingly frequent departures from the Constitution are destroying the rule of law upon which this country is founded, Abbott said. “We are succumbing the caprice of man that our Founders fought to escape.”
The Texas Governor said that the only cure for these overreaches by the federal government and its judiciary is that the states must lead the way.
The Convention of States bill, Senate Bill 21, was filed by Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury).
House Joint Resolution 39 and Senate Joint Resolution 2 by State Representative Rick Miller (R-Sugarland) and Sen. Birdwell, formally call for a convention of states under Article V. The specific focus, they say, is putting fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting its power and jurisdiction, and calling for term limits for federal officials and members of Congress.
House Bill 506 and Senate Bill 21 by State Representative Phil King (R-Weatherford) and Sen. Birdwell are known as the “delegate responsibility bills.” They specify what the Legislature would be responsible for during a convention of states. This includes how delegates to the convention are chosen, and “ensur[es] their fidelity to Texas citizens through the direction of the legislature.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued the following statement on the filing of Senate Bill 21:
Governor Abbott has been leading on this issue for the last several years. SB21 is a top priority for him and for me, and I have pledged my support to push this priority forward. I commend Sen. Birdwell for filing SB 21, which calls for an end to federal government encroachment.
Sen. Birdwell and Reps. Miller and King addressed the hundreds of supporters gathered for the pre-filing.
“For years, too many in our deeply-entrenched federal government have willfully ignored the citizens they represent, essentially dissolving the Founders’ originally-intended balance of power,” said Sen. Birdwell. “Washington’s refusal to uphold the Constitution and recognize the rights of the individual states is a failure that spans both political parties, and thus I believe it is incumbent upon the states to exercise their collective power through Article V.”
Rep. Miller told Breitbart Texas, “The Founders provided the opportunity for the people and the states to take action to reign-in an out of control federal government through Article V.” The state representative from Sugarland added, “Our federal government is out of control and we the people and the states must take it back, and Texas must lead the way in passing this Resolution to let the next president and Congress know we are serious in this matter. This is not a partisan issue – it is an issue for all Americans.” “We will do this if Congress will not act through the convention of states as provided by Article V. I am honored to lead this effort in the Texas House for the people of Texas.”
Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Executive Vice President Kevin Roberts and Center for Tenth Amendment Action Director Chip Roy issued the following statements in response to the filing. “The fight to restrain the federal government and restore state sovereignty under the Constitution has taken a step forward today with the introduction of this legislation calling for a Convention of States,” said Roberts. “Texas Public Policy Foundation is fully committed to supporting this effort in Texas and beyond.”
“Today, Texas leaders are once again standing up in defense of constitutional limited government and the power vested with the people by our founders to preserve it,” said Roy. “I applaud Senator Birdwell and Rep. Miller for introducing their companion legislation today and the leadership of Governor Abbott in calling for a Convention of the States to address the largesse and meddling of the federal government. The momentum behind a convention of the states reflects the same spirit of change that has transformed our political landscape.”
The 85th Texas Legislature will convene on January 10, 2017.