Parts I and II of this series briefly described what an Article V Convention is, and some compelling reasons for the States to call for one. This missive will propose ideas for numerous amendments to our Constitution, the purpose of which is to restore the principles embodied in the document when it was first ratified.
The United States of America was intended to be a land where the principles of liberty and justice for all were paramount. What is meant by liberty? Merriam-Webster defines liberty as:
1 : the quality or state of being free:
a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint
c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
The right of ownership of one’s labor and property is implied in the concept of liberty, as is the concept of personal responsibility. When labor and property are confiscated at the point of a gun, whether by burglar, tax collector, or slave owner, liberty ceases to exist. When it is possible for one group of people to take by force, the fruits of the labor of another simply because the first group says they need it, or an intermediary says so on their behalf, we have returned to indentured servitude. It matters not how well-meaning the intermediary may be. Neither should the intermediary be able to use the threat of confiscation of property or labor to manipulate behavior, yet the current mishmash of federal tax code does just that. Neither Congress nor the Administration will ever voluntarily give up the power to control via the tax code. Yet ultimately, it is the power of the purse that allows the people to control the government, or the government to control the people.
Taxation and Spending
Ultimate control is why the US Constitution gave the power of the purse to “The Peoples House”, the House of Representatives, rather than the house of the States’ Representatives, the Senate.
An additional protection against a tyrannical government was in the area of taxation. Prior to ratification of the 16th Amendment in 1913, any tax on income had to be of the flat-tax variety, apportioned equally among the states, thereby preventing redistribution and manipulation.
Ideally Federal revenues would be voluntary, giving the people the direct power of the purse. Voluntary contribution, however, would lend itself to abuse by allowing the wealthy to manipulate the government. The closest the country could hope to get to an all voluntary tax would be a tax on consumption, or something akin to the “Fair Tax”.
Consider the following Amendments;
- Repeal the 16th Amendment.
- Congress shall not levy any tax on income or property, regardless how derived, nor shall congress impose any tax on estates greater than 5%. Congress may levy a tax on sales, the total of which shall not exceed 15% of the national economy. Such sales tax must be uniform across all products and services except that food necessary for living be exempt. Also the first $500.00 (indexed for inflation) of any single purchase of clothing be exempt, the first $250,000.00 (indexed for inflation) of the purchase of a primary residence or the first $1,500.00 (indexed for inflation) of monthly rent on a primary residence shall be exempt.
- An amendment requiring a balanced budget. The text of S. J. Resolution 10 from the 112th Congress would do as it requires super majorities in both houses to raise taxes or borrow money and limits expenditures to 18% of GDP.
The original intent for Congress was that one house, The House of Representatives, should represent the people while the other house, The Senate, should be the voice of the State Legislatures. That system worked well for 100 years. It was thought, correctly as it turns out, that for the States to retain their power and sovereignty, their legislatures had to be represented directly in the Federal Government. If not, the Federal System would encroach on the States’ rights and eventually overwhelm them. To safeguard the States, the Constitution required Senators to be elected by the legislatures in each of the several States, thereby dividing power between the State Houses and the people.
To insure the people were properly represented, each member of the House of Representatives was to represent no more than 30,000 voters. By limiting the number of voters a congress person could represent, it was thought that people would have adequate access to their representatives and would be better represented. Today one congress person represents roughly 700,000 people. Is it any wonder they spend all their time chasing campaign contributions?
The campaign season has also extended to the point where it is continual. Politicians who have been in office for decades have built up massive war chests of campaign cash and have entrenched themselves with constituent service to the point where they are very difficult to defeat. Our politicians were meant to be public servants for a limited period of time, and then return to private life.
Consider these possibilities to correct some of the problems;
- Repeal the 17th Amendment.
- Limit the terms of Congressional Representatives to four terms for House members and two terms for Senators. Additionally, House members who become Senators, may serve only one term in the Senate.
- Extend truth in advertising, libel, and slander laws to campaign advertising and speeches outside of congressional sessions.
- Re-apportion congressional districts and extend the House of Representatives to 870 seats.
- Except as expressly provided for in the Constitution, Congress shall pass no law which exempts members of Congress or any of their staff from any law.
Executive Branch Overreach
Increasingly, the administrative departments of the Executive Branch have been putting in place rules and regulations that have the force of law. The bureaucrats making the rules were not elected nor have they been accountable to anyone, other than the President.
Congress has abdicated its responsibility to legislate, happily passing on this function to the aforementioned agencies. Often these rules have adversely affected large segments of the population, yet the people have been powerless to stop them.
Congress has also abdicated its responsibility with regard to military action. The Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war, not the President. Even the War Powers Act, which many believe to be unconstitutional, requires the President to seek advise and consent from Congress within sixty days of beginning hostilities, yet two years later bombs are continuing to drop in Yemen. The President has yet to seek approval from Congress for that action.
Possible amendments to return power to its rightful place might be;
- No rule or regulation issued by any Federal Agency and having the force of law shall take effect unless it has been approved by both houses of Congress by up or down vote.
- Congress shall have the power to repeal any rule or regulation put in place by the Administrative branch by up or down vote in both houses.
- Excepting the event of a direct attack on the United States or its territories, the President shall not initiate any military action without a Declaration of War, or Letters of Marque and Reprisal issued by Congress. In the event of direct attack, the President must seek and receive such declaration or cease hostilities within ninety days. No funds from the US Treasury shall be used to conduct military operations past ninety days if no declaration or letters exist.
Obama Care and the Commerce Clause
The original intent of the Commerce Clause in the Constitution was to make commerce regular between the States, that is, to prevent one State from charging tariffs or duties on the goods of another. Yet this clause has been used repeatedly to justify whittling away at States’ rights. The most glaring case has been The Affordable Care Act. Justice Roberts had to, in effect, re-write the law; calling a penalty a tax to avoid the abuse.
Here is a suggested amendment to end Obama Care;
- Congress shall pass no law requiring any citizen or entity to purchase any commercial product or service, and any such law in existence at the time of this amendment’s ratification shall become null and void within six months after ratification.
The Supreme Court
Often the Court has taken it upon itself to ignore the original intent of the framers of the Constitution when making its decisions, thereby creating new law where none exists. This has almost always been done by a five to four vote. Matters of such weight should require substantial unanimity among the members of the court.
Therefore consider these amendments;
- The Supreme court shall consist of twelve members, appointed by the President and ratified by the Senate.
- Supreme Court members cannot be removed from office except by impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors.
- Court members terms shall be limited to fifteen years.
- All constitutional decisions by the Supreme Court shall require at least a two-thirds majority.
Prior to the Civil War, the United States was a collection of sovereign States who agreed under the Constitution to do together what could more easily be done collectively. The Constitution was clear in Article I Section 8 what the powers of the Federal Government were to be. All else was left to the States. This intent was emphasized in the 10th Amendment.
Through federal mandates on everything from light bulbs to toilets to school curriculum and lunch requirements, from healthcare to voting to immigration enforcement, the US government has been usurping State sovereignty and dictating policy.
Consider these amendments to return power to the States;
- The Federal Government must enforce immigration and naturalization law. If the Federal Government fails or refuses to enforce said law, the States have the right to enforce the law in lieu of the Federal Government, and to pass the necessary State laws to carry out said enforcement.
- The States may require such reasonable proof of citizenship as they deem necessary in order to vote.
- Any State has the right to peaceably secede from the union upon passage of a resolution by three-fourths vote of the State legislatures, signature of the respective Governor, and ratification by three-fifths vote of the people of the State.
- No funds shall be used from the Federal Treasury to mandate State behavior as a condition for receipt of said funds.
Freedom of religion was never meant to be freedom from religion. In fact the First Amendment specifically states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ;”. Yet the court system has prohibited the free exercise of religion in many circumstances and locations, and has all but established Atheism as the National Religion.
The following changes to the First Amendment are offered for consideration;
- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, regardless of venue, and including the display of religious symbols in the public square and on Federal Property; or abridging the freedom of speech including politically incorrect speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The forgoing suggestions are offered for the reader’s consideration. What is important are the ideas expressed. There may well be other amendments worthy of inclusion, and the wording and inclusion of those offered in this article are certainly open for discussion and debate.
The purpose of an Article V Convention, after all, is to debate ideas in order to mold our founding document into a basis of government that works for all of the States in the Union, and their citizens. To do nothing in the current climate is to continue down the road to Totalitarianism at warp speed.
The next installment in this series will discuss the necessity of great diligence in choosing the delegates to an Article V Convention and suggest some possible conferees.