Constitutional amendments by the States

On July 4, 1776 fifty-six representatives of the original thirteen united States of America convened a Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to sign a Declaration of Independence from a government they considered “destructive” to their “unalienable Rights.”

Because any government gets its power from the “Consent of the Governed,” it’s the people’s right to abolish or alter it whenever it becomes despotic; but not without good cause.

In the Declaration the State representatives listed a “long Train of Abuses and Usurpations” designed, they said, to reduce their lives to “Despotism.” To prove the “absolute Tyranny over these States,” they enumerated the “Facts” that supported their declaration.

Two-hundred and thirty-seven years later We the People find ourselves faced with another government becoming destructive to our liberties and property. But how do we counter an oppressive government peacefully? Our Founders provided the means by writing them into the Constitution of the United States.

In September 1787 our Constitution prepared by a convention of delegates “chosen in each State by the people,” was ratified by the States. Subsequently, several state representatives “expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers” that “declaratory and restrictive clauses be added.” To help solve that potential problem, amendments to the Constitution were proposed by Congress and ratified by the legislatures of the States, as allowed in Article V of the original Constitution—we refer to the first ten Amendments as the “Bill of Rights.”

Article V permits amendments by two methods: two-thirds of both houses of Congress many propose amendments, and “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments”—in either case amendments “shall be valid” under the Constitution when ratified by three fourths of the States. So, we have a method for the people, who authorize government power, to curtail it when it gets out of control.

Author Mark Levin writes about all this in his new book, “The Liberty Amendments—Restoring the American Republic.” In fact, Mr. Levin proposes many specific amendments—actually ten—that could save us from the current overpowering, authoritarian and unreformable federal government. In Chapter One Levin cites many abuses and usurpation that have become destructive to our rights:

“What was to be a relatively innocuous federal government operating from a defined enumeration of specific grants of power, has become an ever-present and unaccountable force. It is the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, health-care provider, and pension guarantor. Moreover, with aggrandized police powers, what it does not control directly it bans or mandates by regulation. For example, the federal government regulates most things in your bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen, as well as the mortgage you hold on your house. It designs your automobile and dictates the kind of fuel it uses. It regulates your baby’s toys, crib and stroller; plans your children’s school curriculum and lunch menu; and administers their student loans in college. At your place of employment, the federal government oversees everything from the racial, gender, and age diversity of the workforce to the hours, wages, and benefits paid. Indeed, the question is not what the federal government regulates, but what it does not. And it makes you wonder—how can a people incapable of selecting their own lightbulbs and toilets possess enough competence to vote for their own rulers and fill out complicated tax returns?

“The illimitable regulatory activity, with which the federal government torments, harasses, and coerces the individual’s private and economic behavior, is the progeny of a colossal federal edifice with inexhaustible energy for societal manipulation and change. In order to satisfy its gluttonous appetite for programmatic schemes, the federal government not only hurriedly digests the Treasury’s annual revenue, funded with confiscatory taxes on a diminishing number of productive citizens, but desserts on the wealth not yet created by generations not yet born with unconstrained indebtedness. And what havoc has this wrought.

“The federal government consumes nearly 25 percent of all goods and services produced each year by the American people. Yearly deficits routinely exceed $1 trillion. The federal government has incurred a fiscal operating debt of more than $17 trillion, far exceeding the total value of the annual economic wealth created by the American people, which is expected to reach about $26 trillion in a decade. It has accumulated unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs exceeding $90 trillion, which is growing at $4.6-6.9 trillion a year.

“There is not enough money on the planet to make good on the federal government’s financial obligations. Hence, the Federal Reserve Board has swung into action with multiple versions of ‘quantitative easing,’ which is nothing more than the federal government monetizing its own debt—or buying its own debt—with a combination of borrowing, issuing itself credit, and printing money amounting to trillions of dollars. Of course, this has the eventual effect of devaluing the currency, fueling significant inflation or deflation, and destabilizing the economy at some future point.”

Mark Levin’s summary of current abuses and usurpation of power by the federal government gives us good reasons to ask our State legislators for conventions to reform our Constitution with amendments. Levin offers a lot of wisdom and guidance on this.

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About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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