Why Is Texas Governor Greg Abbot Calling For A Constitutional Convention?
Texas Governor Greg Abbot has put forth his own plan for the future, and it is not looking good, for anyone. He is now pushing for a Constitutional Convention in order to further his agenda.
A Constitutional Convention is a process for proposing changes to the Constitution of the United States. Article V allows a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress to do this via amendments; Or a two-thirds majority of state legislatures can call for a Convention of States to propose amendments (which would require a nearly impossible three-quarters majority to pass).
Gov. Greg Abbot’s call for Constitutional Convention sounds eerily similar to a call for secession.
The increasingly frequent departures from Constitutional principles are destroying the Rule of Law foundation on which this country was built. We are succumbing to the caprice of man that our Founders fought to escape. The cure to these problems will not come from Washington D.C. Instead, the states must lead the way. To do that I am adding another item to the agenda next session. I want legislation authorizing Texas to join other states in calling for a Convention of States to fix the cracks in our Constitution.
Texas has attempted to petition Congress for such a Constitutional Convention in the past. According to the Congressional record, Texas has submitted such a motion eight times in total, with the latest in 1963. The 1963 petition was filed to remove judicial oversight over state legislatures, to allow the state legislature to appoint the states electoral college representatives rather than direct elections from the people, and to amend Article V itself so that it became easier for the states to hold a constitutional convention. This petition expired in 1965 however.
Governor Abbot’s new proposal is to put forth not one, but 10, new constitutional amendments, to address his claim of “departure of Constitutional principles.” The framework put forth does not, however, meet with the foundation of this nation. Instead, it reflects a poor understanding of both the founding of this nations, and the constitutional civics upon which our government is built.
What Constitutional Amendments Are Being Proposed For This Constitutional Convention?
This new petition being developed is to pass not one, but 10 new proposed constitutional amendments. Let us look over the proposed amendments Gov. Abbot seeks to pass at this Constitutional Convention.
Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State.
This undermines a core power of Congress, that of interstate commerce. This proposed constitutional amendment would either be so weak as to be meaningless, or so strong as to cripple the economy. There really is little room in between. With the advent of interstate travel and telecommunications, there is now nearly no activity now which resides entirely within a single state. For example, if a gas station sells gas for $0.50 less than one the next town over, across the state line, it will drive interstate commerce even if the gas station isn’t part of an interstate chain.
The constitutional issues of this have been addressed at the supreme court ad nauseum, and really do not need to be addressed yet again. By pushing for a constitutional amendment on this matter, Abbot looks to be forcing the pendulum to swing the away from where it is today, which would result in a fracturing of unity, and eventual breakdown of our national economy. States would try and hide behind such language to get away with a myriad of things as they have in the past, and systems we have in place, from roads to telephones, would be an absolute nightmare to regulate.
Require Congress to balance its budget.
The call for a balanced budget amendment has been so often heard that it is considered by some as a panacea. But what the GOP can’t achieve through Congress, Gov. Greg Abbot hopes to gain via a Constitutional Convention. In truth, government budgets do not work like household budgets. When you can mint the currency, the concept of bankruptcy is nonsense. Balanced federal budgets instead only force the debt on to the private market due to the resulting soft economy, and leave a federal government unable to operate during times of crisis. Imagine had this policy been in existence for World War 2. Should we have just gone “darn that Hitler, too bad we can’t afford an army to fight him.” With the military being the majority of the federal discretionary budget, this amendment is inherently anti-military, an irony considering Governor Abbots campaign history.
Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from creating federal law.
These do not create federal law as it is, so this is a meaningless amendment. Congress creates the laws, as it continues to do and has done since the Constitution has been in effect. What instead he is trying to do is prevent agency enforcement of regulations, as we know that those who do not like some particular rule or regulation will attempt to classify it as such in order to kill the agencies ability to do their job. These regulations cover everything from our electric outlets to what is within gasoline. Imagine a situation where your new appliances cannot be plugged into any of the outlets in your house.
Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from preempting state law.
As these agencies are tasked with enforcement of federal law, an amendment which would block them from preemption of state law would in effect cripple their ability to do their jobs. This would prevent the enforcement of anti-Lynching laws, or the laws prohibiting child labor. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision. Remember your civics a moment, and realize that one of the non-elected agencies which would be stripped of power is the US Treasury. The ability to regulate currency would fall into question with these amendments. If a state were to pass a law which granted them the ability to mint coin, despite being delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, this amendment would strip the Treasury from that authority. So, go to Texas, better be sure to have Lone Star Bills in your pocket. We could imagine the rise of some extra-national currency such as Bitcoin would then happen, with all of the problems that follow. And imagine what a state run cryptocurrency would bring to the table. The chaos of the market would be maddening to economists.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
This sounds may sound reasonable at first. After all, Citizens United is widely disliked due to the damage it does to elections nationwide. But, if Gov. Abbot’s proposing it for his Constitutional Convention, it’s probably not reasonable at all: Once you consider state populations, the risks of such a measure become apparent. 2/3rds of the states could hold as few as 102.7 million people, which is only 31% of the US population. And then, once you consider voting rates around 40% according to Fairvote, and majorities only requiring to have the most votes which could be in the mid-30’s in a multi-party election, we could be considering that as few as 13 million people, less than 3% of the population, are now in control over the Supreme Court itself.
Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
As any court decision could in theory invalidate a democratically enacted law, it would eliminate the role of the Supreme Court in oversight. And the Constitution does not specify how many members are to sit on the Supreme Court. The current allocation of 9 has not always been so, with the number fluctuating between 6 and 10. With this amendment in place, requiring 7 Justices to agree, it would be trivial to reduce the number of justices to 6, and eliminate the Supreme Court entirely. Or, the number could be increased to some number which would have 7 the majority as well, such as 13, rendering this entire amendment useless as/is.
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.
The 10th Amendment already covers this. For Abbot to call for another amendment declaring such demonstrates only a poor grasp of civics. Sadly, this is a common cry from those who lack grounding in constitutional civics. The perception of federal overreach comes from the failure to understand constitutional civics, so they look only to the constitution for rectification. This constitutional amendment proposal is evidence of that.
Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
The states already have this power. What Abbot is trying to do is enable individual lawmakers, without the approval of the state itself, to engage in judicial vigilantism. This opens up the avenue for the wanton abuse of the legal system, tying up the courts with frivolous suits of all sorts. It would not be difficult to imagine the losing side of a debate using the court system to overturn a vote which they had previously lost.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation.
As with the previous proposal to overrule a supreme court decision, this would allow the minority to control the majority. When 3% of a nations population can dictate to the other 97%, we now have a functional oligarchy. And as the states get to set up their own rules for elections, a coalition of states could in turn reduce even this amount of oversight.
Add all of these together, and it boils down to one thing, the dismantling of the United States itself.
The Fool And The Fool Who Follows … If Successful, A Constitutional Convention Would Lead To Disaster.
The irony here is that such an easy manipulation of the system often backfires on those who would seek to exploit it. Gathering the needed 2/3rd majority of states required for a Constitutional Convention is demonstrably difficult as it is. If an oligarchy can form exploiting such a system one way, one can form to exploit it in another. So a Governor Abbot seeking to create a constitutional method to bypass the federal for conservative ends can also create a system by which an organized leftist group could turn the tables. The term “be careful what you wish for, you might get it” applies very well here.
Governor Abbot is demonstrating a weakness in Constitutional matters in regards to his proposals. He has failed to take into account the practical results. Driven by idealism and a near dogmatic belief in his own supremacy, these amendments would lead to a constitutional crisis. The federal government would find itself without sufficient power to maintain authority, or legitimacy, the states would balkanize, and the union would disintegrate.
Consider a moment what could happen if Governor Abbot has his way. Overnight, the majority of the regulations needed to run our nation would be rendered moot. Resource management, labor protections, all would now be at risk. Abbot in his hubris fails to grasp the very constitutional protections he would now strip away. States would then be forced to create interstate compacts in order to maintain trade relations between the states. These compacts would then fill in the role which the federal government once held. This would divide our nation, weakening it tremendously. And such weakness would in turn force a collapse. Unable to buy or sell, or trade at all, the nation would follow the path set forth by the Articles of Confederation before, and the United States would be forced to either recreate itself once again, with a new constitution, or break up once and for all.
As it stands, the United States is barely functioning, with constitutional crisis after constitutional crisis. From the debt ceiling to the refusal to process executive branch appointments, the United States is only one constitutional crisis away from utter collapse. The wealthy oligarchs have learned how to exploit the system, to induce these panics, over and over again. Their paid-for politicians engage in tactics which make no sense on their own, but collectively present a pattern that is clear.
This call for a Constitutional Convention to pass these amendments only displays the latest power grab by these would-be oligarchs. Be it for left or right wing, such a power grab must not come to pass. Our nation was built on compromise, not dictate. Governor Abbot’s plan here would overturn this.
Rather than a restoration, it would be a dissolution of the United States and all which it has stood for these past centuries.