The States Can Check Washington’s Power (You mean used to be able to)

Posted by Jason | Posted in Government | Posted on 22-12-2009


In today’s Wall Street Journal, there is an op-ed by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey about giving the states the ability to propose constitutional amendments.

For nearly a hundred years, federal power has expanded at the expense of the states—to a point where the even the wages and hours of state employees are subject to federal control. Basic health and safety regulations that were long exercised by states under their “police power” are now dominated by Washington.

The courts have similarly distorted the Constitution by inventing new constitutional rights and failing to limit governmental power as provided for in the document. The aggrandizement of judicial power has been a particularly vexing challenge, since it is inherently incapable of correction through the normal political channels.

There is a way to deter further constitutional mischief from Congress and the federal courts, and restore some semblance of the proper federal-state balance. That is to give to states—and through them the people—a greater role in the constitutional amendment process.

The idea is simple, and is already being mooted in conservative legal circles. Today, only Congress can propose constitutional amendments—and Congress of course has little interest in proposing limits on its own power. Since the mid-19th century, no amendment has actually limited federal authority.

But what if a number of states, acting together, also could propose amendments? That has the potential to reinvigorate the states as a check on federal power. It could also return states to a more central policy-making role.

via David Rivkin and Lee Casey: The States Can Check Washington’s Power –

While the authors have a good idea and a great point, they completely leave out what happened “nearly a hundred years” ago that allowed federal power to expand. Several things happened, but one thing in particular happened that if it had not happened would given the authors what they are asking for and would have prevented the massive expansion of the federal government. In 1913, the 17th amendment was ratified. That amendment changed Senators from being elected by state legislatures to being elected by the people via the popular vote.

The original point of the Senate was to represent state interests and to keep the Federal government from infringing on states rights. Once that barrier was removed, there was no longer a check on the federal powers. You get what we have now.

Prior to the 17th amendment, states could do exactly what the article is proposing. States could propose amendments via their state’s senators, who were accountable to the state legislators. Now, senators aren’t accountable to state legislators, so all they care about is the popular vote of the people, which is easily manipulated.

Come to think about it, do you think Senators could be as corrupt as they are if they were accountable to state legislators? Could corporations buy off US Senators at the expense of their citizens if they new that the state legislators could kick them out of office? While I’m sure there would still be corruption, I don’t think you would have it on the scale that we do now. I also don’t think you would necessarily have these career politicians and the rotating door between government and lobbying.

As time goes on, the great intellect of our founders avails itself more an more. They put controls in place knowing what would happen without those controls. Unfortunately, we allowed Woodrow Wilson, who was a “progressive” to undermine so much of what the founders put in place. Under Wilson, we got the 17th amendment, ending state rights. We got the federal reserve act, which allows the federal government to spend by printing money, robs the middle class and poor through inflation, and creates boom bust cycles. We got the progressive income tax, which punishes productivity and instigates class warfare. The list of Wilson’s destructive acts could go on with drug laws, antiwar suppression, etc.

If we ever want to take the country back towards more liberty, states without a doubt need to start reasserting themselves. It does seem to be happening underneath the surface. There is a growing 10th amendment movement. There are even discussions on some websites and TVs shows about secession. While I don’t see secession ever happening with everyone being programmed that the south was evil for seceded, I can see states voiding federal laws if the people get loud enough. Ultimately, it comes down to people rising up against these federal laws. The first chance at this will be this enslaving health care bill. The people need to get extremely loud about it and tell their state legislators to ignore the federal law. If states ignored the law, as some have ignored the drug laws, they can in effect void the laws.

Maybe it will happen. More likely it won’t. One can only hope that states reassert themselves. If they do, we have a fighting chance at re-establishing our country. If not, Rome will continue to burn until it is no longer.

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Comments (3)

Great blog!

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Dear Author !
I consider, what is it very interesting theme. I suggest all to take part in discussion more actively.

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Thats an interesting article – your blog is really good i keep coming back here all the time keep it up!

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