Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently called on the Lone Star State to join other states in calling for an Article V Convention of States.
“Acting through the States,” he says, “the people can amend their Constitution to force their leaders in all three branches of government to recognize renewed limits on federal power.”
Abbott says that “over the last 227 years, in fits and starts, through baby steps and giant leaps, our government lost its way; it left the Constitution in its rearview; and it pushed States into the roadside ditch.”
This article is Part 2 of a series that discusses Abbott’s 92 page “Texas Plan.” Part 2 discusses some of the historical background for the reasons for the plan, and the “casualties in Washington, D.C.’s war on the rule of law”—including the power of the states and the states’ leaders.
America “was built on one principle above all others – the Rule of Law,” he writes. “As James Madison explained in the Federalist: ‘If men were angels, no government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.’” He says our nation’s founders envisioned that the rule of law helped solve this inherent struggle.
The Texas governor notes, “Today, however, the Constitution and the rule of law are under unprecedented attack in our Nation’s capital.”
*The President touts his unilateral power to change the law when he does not like the results of the democratic process.
*Congress is full of members who care more about the trappings of power than actually performing their constitutional roles.
*And the Supreme Court is dominated by individuals who substitute their personal policy preferences for the Constitution and laws of the United States.
The “casualties in Washington, D.C.’s war on the rule of law,” have been many. “But perhaps no one has lost as much as the States.” The original design for the nation was that “the States will retain, under the proposed Constitution, a very extensive portion of active sovereignty.”
Abbott was the longest serving attorney general (AG) in Texas prior to becoming governor, and he has served as a justice on the Supreme Court of Texas and as a civil district court judge.
The Constitution was “intended to preserve the States as coequal and sovereign governments because they were closest—and hence the most accountable—to the people,” he writes. Abbott explains, “in the spirit of the Constitution’s checks-and balances, State leaders were supposed to have the power and opportunity to check any attempt by federal officials to overstep their bounds.”
He says the federal government predictably has waited for Americans to adjust “like a frog in a pot of warming water to the ever-expanding scope of federal power,” and explains how this happened.
In the 1930s, the federal government started “making law” by giving power to federal administrative agencies but these agencies have no basis in the Constitution, he says.
The Constitution provides how law is made—a bill has to pass both houses of an elected Congress by a majority vote and be presented to an elected President for signature.
Today “nameless and faceless” agency bureaucrats make federal “law,” and they do so without ever even having to tell an elected official about it, he notes.
Moreover, during the same period, the U.S. Supreme Court began to habitually enforce the personal views of five unelected judges over the confines of the Constitution. He writes, the Constitution now “has evolved into a Frankenstein that somehow affords a constitutional right to make sexually explicit ‘animal crush’ videos but denies a constitutional right for a woman in Connecticut to protect her home from being forcibly taken from her by private developers.”
The Texas governor cites Obamacare as another example. He writes, “And today, the President thinks he can remake entire sectors of the world’s biggest and most dynamic economy and use administrative agencies to displace state law.” One estimate calculates that the president has unilaterally amended Obamacare in 32 ways.
The president has also “asserted unilateral authority” to regulate almost every building in the country in an effort to address “greenhouse gases.” He has taken executive actions to infringe Second Amendment rights even though the Bill of Rights was intended to protect from invasions of liberties.
Abbott notes that “but for a lawsuit brought by Texas, the President would have unilaterally ordered the single largest overhaul of the immigration system in our Nation’s history.” As reported by Breitbart Texas, Texas was the only state that filed a lawsuit to sue the federal government over Obama’s executive decision. The governor, when he was AG, was later able to get about half of the states to join in the lawsuit. “We have single-handedly stopped Barack Obama’s illegal executive amnesty order and put a halt to it through the remainder of his tenure as President of the United States,” Abbott maintains.
Abbott has consistently taken on the federal government when it has overstepped its power. He filed 31 lawsuits against the federal government when he was AG. He also most recently caused waves when he called upon President Obama to halt the importation of any additional Syrian refugees into the U.S and directed the Texas Health & Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in Texas, as reported by Breitbart Texas.
“Yet even though we can no longer rely on our Nation’s leaders to enforce the Constitution that ‘We the People’ agreed to, the Constitution provides another way forward,” Abbott writes in his Texas Plan.
He explains, “Acting through the States, the people can amend their Constitution to force their leaders in all three branches of government to recognize renewed limits on federal power.”
Abbott correctly charges that the “cure” will obviously not come from Washington, D.C. lawmakers. He said they cannot “be relied upon to do something as mundane as pass an annual budget, much less can they balance one.”
Article V of the U.S. Constitution gives the states the power to amend the Constitution.
The Texas Plan is the roadmap to reining in the federal government and restoring the balance of power between the States and the federal government, Abbott says. It consists of nine amendments.
Although these amendments will be discussed in more detail in this series of articles, the nine proposed amendments appear below:
I. Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State.
II. Require Congress to balance its budget.
III. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from creating federal law.
IV. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from preempting state law.
V. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
VI. Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
VII. 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.
VIII. Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
IX. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation.
Future articles in the series will discuss: the Texas Plan for fixing Congress; the president; the federal judiciary; how the Texas Plan will reclaim the States’ rights “from a federal government bent on abrogating them;” and lastly, the process for implementing the Texas Plan.
The “Texas Plan” in its entirety will be attached to each part of the series so it can be readily consulted.
Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as an associate judge and prosecutor. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2