“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, May 05, 2017

Texas Checks In

A Convention of the States to Amend the Constitution

Last week, one of the most significant events in the history of our constitutional republic in our lifetime occurred: Delegations, consisting primarily of state legislators, from all 50 states gathered in Colonial Williamsburg with the intent to rein in the federal government’s abuse of power. An assembly of 137 delegatesrepresenting every state quietly convened in a simulation that, when convened officially, could effectively strip Washington of its purloined power overnight. Legally.

What’s this all about?

Article V of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and we’re all familiar with that process. It’s happened successfully 27 times in our nation’s history, and it’s how we’ve accomplished some important things, like ending slavery and guaranteeing women’s right to vote. But Article V also grants the same power to the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. That power hasn’t been exercised in American history — yet.

The reason this provision was added to the Constitution, just two days before the close of the 1787 convention, was a concern raised by George Mason. In keeping with the checks and balances of the Framers, Mason believed that no branch of government should have the power to determine the extent of its own power. He predicted that someday the federal government would abuse the carefully enumerated powers bestowed in the text of the Constitution. When that day arrived, structural amendments would be needed to curtail federal usurpations, but if Congress alone had the power to propose amendments, no corrections would ever be forthcoming. Based on this clear-headed observation, the Framers unanimously added the option for the states to propose amendments through a convention of states.

The U.S. Constitution is a grant of specific, limited powers to the federal government to fulfill its duty to preserve and protect individual rights and promote the “general welfare.” But the Founders recognized that the federal government might overstep and abuse those powers, and that it was highly unlikely Congress would then act to restrain itself. So the Founders also gave the states the power to convene together and propose amendments to the Constitution to restrain federal abuses, in what Article V calls a “convention” of the states.

Article V reads:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states . . . 
In other words, two-thirds (34) of the states pass an application for a convention to propose amendments, then the states choose their delegates, and whatever amendments are passed at that convention by the states still need to be ratified by the same process as any congressional amendment. Over the years, the states have enacted over 400 applications for a convention, but none has ever been called, because two-thirds of the states have never agreed on the subject matter for such a convention.

Several states have already called for a convention to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and impose term limits on federal officials.

It was this application that formed the framework for the convention-of-states simulation last week in Colonial Williamsburg. Every state sent delegates, who spent two days debating dozens of ideas for amendments under these general topics. The simulated convention passed significant amendment proposals on the following six ideas:

1. Requiring the states to approve any increase in the national debt
2. Imposing term limits on Congress (effective retroactively)
3. Limiting federal overreach by returning the Commerce Clause to its original meaning
4. Limiting the power of federal regulations by allowing an easy congressional override
5. Requiring a supermajority to impose federal taxes and repealing the 16thAmendment, which legalized the federal income tax
6. Giving the states (by a three-fifths vote) the power to abrogate any federal law, regulation, or executive order
This is the Founders’ solution to Washington’s hunger for power and institutional corruption, and the states are rallying.

Other amendment proposals were discussed and debated, including term limits on the Supreme Court and giving the states the power to vacate a Supreme Court opinion. The simulation lasted only two days, but the real convention of states would have sufficient time to consider amendments and carefully craft final texts.
Importantly, the Convention does not have power (just as Congress does not have power) under Article V to rewrite or completely overhaul the U.S. Constitution, or propose amendments beyond the scope of the application passed through each state legislature. Two of the nation’s foremost constitutional attorneys have written extensively on the procedural safeguards of a convention of states, and this simulation showed exactly how and why it will work as a check on the federal government, exactly as intended.

This is the Founders’ solution to Washington’s hunger for power and institutional corruption, and the states are rallying. Going into the 2017 legislative sessions, eight states have passed the convention of states application and another 30 states have considered it.

We all need to pay attention to the states and the Convention of States Project. We may feel horribly frustrated at national-level politics and parties for dozens of reasons. But we have one very important reason to remain hopeful for the preservation of liberty — at the state level, the convention of states can and will happen. We can and should get involved in our states and help lobby our legislators to pass the application for a convention.

The future of our country doesn’t rest solely on the results in November. There is a much bigger and better solution in the U.S. Constitution itself — in Article V.

— Michael Farris is the co-founder of the Convention of States Project. He is a constitutional-law attorney, the chancellor of Patrick Henry College, and the chairman and general counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association. Jenna Ellis is a constitutional law attorney and a professor of legal studies at Colorado Christian University. She is the author of the book The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution and a fellow at the Centennial Institute.


  1. Texas legislators who support a convention of states to rewrite the U.S. Constitution are at odds over whether to jail delegates who "go rogue" and impose unwanted changes at the longshot gathering.


    Also Wednesday, the Texas House voted to scrap every past call except for one previously seeking a federal balanced budget amendment. The Senate has already approved a similar cleaning of the slate.

    1. Texas legislators who support a convention of states to rewrite the U.S. Constitution are at odds over whether to jail delegates who "go rogue" and impose unwanted changes at the longshot gathering.


      Good Grief. Only in Texas, I hope.

      They shouldn't begin to jail their opponents just for being opponents.

      This is not the sort of attitude I would hope prevail at a Convention of States.

      I believe the product of such a Convention might not be to my liking.

      I might withdraw my support !

      That attitude sounds more like something coming out of the French Revolution.

      How far behind would the coming of the Guillotines ?

  2. Didn't we just miss a Constitutional Convention by a whisker a few years ago ?

    For the life of me I can't find a list of the states that have now signed on to this effort.

    Counting Texas the number seems to stand at 11.

  3. There is a dearth of news about it. There is far more information about sex self doubters who are troubled about standing or sitting to take a whiz. Consequences be damned, it is this convention with all its risks or it is over.


    Idaho is working on it.

    House panel introduces ‘Convention of the States’ resolution to amend Constitution

    Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, proposed legislation this morning calling for Idaho to petition for a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution to restrict the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, “and no other amendments,” he said. This comes after a Senate bill, SCR 108, was introduced last week to petition for a constitutional convention to enact a balanced budget amendment. Loertscher’s proposal is in line with one outlined by former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn on a visit to Idaho last week, on behalf of the Convention of the States Project.

    Though critics argue a convention couldn’t practically be limited to particular amendments, Loertscher said under his bill, “It would be restricted to those areas and those areas alone. That is the reason for doing this,” he said, “and the reason why we need to do this from the states is that Congress has no desire to limit its own power in any regard, and so it’s up to us to fix this.”

    “I would submit, Mr. Chairman, that we do have a broken situation, that it does need a fix,” Loertscher said, “and it is broken by the number of things that have been decided by the Supreme Court that have in effect laid our Constitution aside, and so it’s very important for us to wrest back from this overreach so that we can maintain the integrity of the Constitution.”

    Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, had several questions about the wording in Loertscher’s proposed legislation, as did Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise. Loertscher said any constitutional amendments that were proposed still would have to be ratified by states.

    Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, asked Loertscher why his measure is starting in the House, when the Senate rejected legislation on the matter last year. “I think that the House needs to step out and lead on this issue,” Loertscher responded. “I don’t think we should stand around and wait for the Senate to do something. I think there’s been a huge misunderstanding about what a call means, and I think this clarifies it a great deal.”

    “I would like to hear more about this,” said Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, so she moved to introduce the bill.

    Barbieri said he’d support the motion, but said, “There’s going to be some serious, I think, questions and things that are going to have to be really fleshed out in a hearing. When we look at what’s happened with the federal government in terms of its power and its growing power, the Supreme Court is a major impediment to any kind of change. Marbury vs. Madison was a major usurpation of the balance of the original checks and balances,” Barbieri said, “and that’s only one of the means by which the federal government has continued to grow its power.” With that, the committee voted along party lines to introduce Loertscher’s measure; Reps. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, and Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, voted no.

    If it happens, one way or the other, we will be there, I can assure you.

  5. The best I can up with are Arizona, Alaska, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Indian, Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas. You need 34.

    You will never get California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, New York, Maryland, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida. That leaves only three more to stop it.

    If only Ted Kennedy had been shot between the eyes when he crawled out of the waters at Chappaquiddick Bridge, this could have been possible. Since no one had the foresight to do so, I doubt it will ever happen.

  6. .

    Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss

    Trump goes soft on Saudi Arabia

    He used to trash the kingdom, but now the president is making it his first foreign stop.

    President Donald Trump has said that Saudi Arabia “blew up the World Trade Center” and wants “women as slaves and to kill gays.” He has also insisted that the oil-rich Arab kingdom provide the United States with free oil for a decade.

    But when Trump takes his first overseas trip later this month, Saudi Arabia will be his first stop.

    It’s just the latest example of how Trump—who will continue to Israel and then the Vatican—is largely shelving his incendiary campaign views about the world in favor of more traditional diplomacy.
    It’s also a reminder that however much politicians love to bash Saudi Arabia, they wind up realizing that the country’s oil wealth and regional influence make it virtually impossible to shun.

    “The Saudis are part of the problem—but they’re also part of the solution, so that’s why you have to deal with them,” said Simon Henderson, a Saudi Arabia expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    Barack Obama, who also complained about the Saudis as a candidate and never warmed to its theocratic regime, made Riyadh his first stop on his inaugural visit to the Middle East in June 2009 and returned several times...

    Same old. Same old.

    1. He's on a mission of peace, he says.

      He is even meeting with the PA guy Abbass in D.C.

      I think he's a little deluded but let the guy try.

  7. GREAT AGAIN: APRIL JOBS +211,000...
    Unemployment rate falls to 4.4%....DRUDGE

    All shall be remade anew.

    The past shall be forgotten.

  8. Judge Jeanine hit the streets of New York City, and asked the folks:

    Should Hillary 'lead the resistance' or 'go back to the woods'.

    100% said 'go back to the woods' with one adding 'let her go further than that, to a desert or something'.

    Hillary's goose is cooked, self cooked, self basted.

  9. .

    The Neocons Refuse to Slink Away in Disgrace

    US: North Korea’s nukes may be a tactic for taking over South

    Senior White House official says nuclear arsenal is a means of achieving goals through ‘blackmail’

    North Korea:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — North Korea’s nuclear weapons development may be designed to take over archrival South Korea and coerce the United States into abandoning its close ally, a senior White House official said Tuesday, questioning the North’s stated purpose of warding off a US invasion.

    Ruminating about Pyongyang’s possible motivations, Matt Pottinger, the Asia director on US President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, said there may be some truth to claims that the North wants a nuclear deterrent to protect its communist dictatorship. But Pottinger said the country’s robust conventional military has worked as a deterrent for decades.

    Pottinger suggested other “disturbing” explanations for the North’s development of “an arsenal of the worst weapons in the world.”

    “They have made no secret in conversations they have had with former American officials, for example, and others that they want to use these weapons as an instrument of blackmail to achieve other goals, even including perhaps coercive reunification of the Korean Peninsula one day,” Pottinger told a conference in Washington.

    The North, he added, also wants to coerce the United States “to leave the peninsula and abandon our alliances.”

    Pottinger’s comments at a panel discussion organized by Sasakawa USA, a group promoting US-Japan relations, came a day after Trump opened the door to a future meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, offering unusual praise for the globally ostracized leader at a time of surging nuclear tensions...


    In any conventional war, while taking massive damage, South Korea would quickly defeat North Korea.

    Two, Kim is not about to launch any nuclear weapons except in defense. He knows he would be destroyed if he did it. If that happened he would no long be able to enjoy his whores and cognac and cigars.

    “They have made no secret in conversations they have had with former American officials, for example, and others that they want to use these weapons as an instrument of blackmail to achieve other goals, even including perhaps coercive reunification of the Korean Peninsula one day,” Pottinger told a conference in Washington.

    Ah, the ubiquitous (and always nameless) former American Officials. What are these former American officials doing meeting with the Norks?

    This is typical neocon scaremongering.


    1. What civilized person could possibly be against nuclear blackmail ?

      It's innocent enough.

      Let Kim target Detroit.

      He's probably just bluffing.

    2. .

      Of course, he's bluffing.

      The first nuclear weapon launched would mean his end. That's not in his agenda.

      Besides, he's got a ways to go on his missiles in order to his Detroit. Idaho on the other hand?

      The only thing you've got going for you is the logical judgement, why bother?


    3. We've got nothing up north here worth targeting.

      I like it that way.

    4. Go to Ye Olde Mafia Barber Shoppe today, would you, and report back on their picks for the Derby.

    5. Idle hands are the Devil's Workshop.

      Make yourself useful for once.

  10. Thunder Snow

  11. I think it's time for Quirk, who obviously can't stand The Donald, who, he says, "doesn't know shit", to join one of Hillary's new Resistance Groups.

    If he ingratiates himself he might make Block Captain, or some other such lofty title.

    At which point he would become totally intolerable, a long sought goal of his.

    1. Hillary to launch PAC to fund Resistance groups, hopes to help Democrats win back House and Senate

      By progressive2016
      Thursday May 04, 2017 · 6:21 PM PDT

      If she goes international, SMUG too could join up, and lead The Resistance from a safe space enclave in Canada.

    2. Also see:

      Clinton to launch 'resistance' PAC
      CNN Digital Expansion 2017
      By Dan Merica, CNN
      Updated 7:04 PM ET, Thu May 4, 2017

      Washington (CNN)

      Hillary Clinton, reentering the political fray months after her 2016 campaign loss, will soon launch a political organization aimed at funding "resistance" groups that are standing up to President Donald Trump, sources with knowledge of the plans tell CNN....

    3. Clinton and Obama should be sentenced to 6 more years in college.

  12. "Two, Kim is not about to launch any nuclear weapons except in defense. He knows he would be destroyed if he did it. If that happened he would no long be able to enjoy his whores and cognac and cigars."
    I certainly will not waste this almost unique opportunity to declare that I am in this case in complete agreement with Quirk.

    Kim's smiling face says it all imho.

    Neocons, not so much.

    1. He also enjoys the parades, all the serious old farts surrounding him with non-digital notebooks, cool haircuts...

      What's not to like?

    2. Comey, otoh is a threat to humanity as long as he breathes.

      And a putz that I would certainly kick in the face if I had the chance.

    3. "Comey 'pressed for anti-Trump dossier'..."

      Probly came when he read about the Golden Showers.

    4. That slimy asshole said he went through one of the most painful experiences possible in deciding what to do about Hillary, and calling his press briefings....