Texas Governor Abbott’s Timing Ripe for COS
by Sonja Harris on January 4, 2017 at 9:46 AM
The 85th Texas legislative session is just around the corner. It begins on January 10, 2017 and priorities have already been set. A Convention of States is high on the list. The Texas Lt. Governor sent out a press release in early December on the COS:
Lt. Governor Patrick Statement on the Filing of SB 21 - Convention of States
AUSTIN – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued the following statement today on the filing of Senate Bill 21 - the Convention of States bill, by Senator Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury.
“Governor Abbott has been leading on this issue for the last several years. SB21 is a top priority for him and for me, and I have pledged my support to push this priority forward. I commend Sen. Birdwell for filing SB 21, which calls for an end to federal government encroachment."
Texas Governor Greg Abbott may have been working on his proposed Convention of States movement for some time, but he affirmed his stance with his book, ‘Broken but Unbowed’, that was released just before the Texas state Republican convention in May.
Not until the November election had the opportunity been so ripe to call for a COS. In 2017 there will be a Republican majority in both the U.S. House and Senate and a Republican president in the oval office, not to mention that there will be 33 Republican governors holding office. Since I am relying on statistics from this website,
Just to clarify where I have stood in the past on the Convention of States, I did not think it was a wise idea because in my estimation the progressives have had a choke hold on the constitution and conservative stability is a must to ensure a successful COS. But now, I’m not so sure. I’m beginning to think that America could benefit from a COS, if the states are measured enough to understand when the convention is close to an out-of-control situation.
Article V of the Constitution 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, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
In laymen’s terms:
Article V of the Constitution lays out two routes for changing the law of the land: An amendment can be proposed by Congress or by a constitutional convention that is convened by two-thirds of the states (34). Either way, three-fourths of the states (38) have to ratify it. Previously, changes to the country’s founding document have been achieved by the first process.
The biggest problem, but not the only one, is the out of control budget that we are presently experiencing at 20 trillion. It appears that we have had a balanced budget only four times since 1970, in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. Republicans were in the majority in congress from 1999 to 2001. If you would like to venture further into this deep hole read, ‘No, Bill Clinton Didn’t Balance the Budget.’
So it is fitting that the Article V COS would include a Balanced Budget Amendment. Governor Abbott calls for a Balanced Budget Amendment and in his 90 page, ‘Restoring the Rule of Law’; he outlines his Texas Plan for the COS.
His Texas Plan “is not so much as a vision to alter the Constitution as it is to restore the rule of our current one.” Abbott further states that, “the solution is to restore the rule of law by ensuring that our government abides by the Constitution’s limits.”
Governor Abbott’s Texas Plan is an ambitious plan worth careful deliberation. The following are the nine amendments he wishes to accomplish.
- Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State.
- Require Congress to balance its budget.
- Prohibit administrative agencies and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them from creating federal law.
- Prohibit administrative agencies and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them from preempting state law.
- Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
- Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
- 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.
- Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
- Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation.
His Texas Plan is magnificent but can it be implemented? There are some serious questions which he answers in his book, ‘Broken but Unbowed’. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read his book please do. Then you can at least understand why our Texas Governor is so determined to call for a COS.
The biggest drawback, critics say, is a runaway convention. Governor Abbott stands strong explaining his viewpoint on this subject to followers on his twitter account.
Governor Abbott explains the ‘myth’ of the runaway convention in his book stating why this won’t happen. “At least thirty-four states must agree to even hold a convention to consider proposed constitutional amendments.” This of course means, “Just seventeen states can block a convention of states from even occurring if it appears the convention could run out of control.” He also lists other safeguards which include limiting the topics and the states having the ability to withdraw from the COS if they so deem it necessary. In his words, “I want legislation authorizing Texas to join other states in calling for a Convention of States to fix the cracks in our Constitution.”
In his book he quotes, Antonin Scalia’s words on the COS:
“The founders inserted this alternative method of obtaining constitutional amendments because they knew the Congress would be unwilling to give attention to many issues the people are concerned with, particularly those involving restrictions on the federal government’s own power. The founders foresaw that and they provided the convention as a remedy. If the only way to get that convention is to take this minimal risk, then it is a reasonable one.”
I’m of the opinion that after this strange election, absolutely nothing is set in stone and that this next four years are going to be a roller coaster ride. So why shouldn’t we consider taking that ride!
Relating to the qualifications, duties, and limitations of Texas delegates to a convention called under Article V of the United States Constitution