Is A Constitutional Amendment Needed To Restore Federalism?

I've heard a lot of ideas about how to reinstate the federalism our Founding Fathers envisioned. Some were quite tame, being the passing of resolutions in various state legislatures restating their belief and adherence to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution. I've heard some crazy ideas about secession (At times I've espoused New Hampshire's secession and the reforming of the Indian Stream Republic).

One of the better ideas I've heard is a Constitutional Amendment that asserts the individual states rights to regulate their own affairs as is presently defined by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, and putting the federal government, and particularly Congress, back in their places where they belong. There's a certain appeal to the idea.

...state legislatures have a real power under the Constitution by which to resist the growth of federal power: They can petition Congress for a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution.

Article V provides that, "on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states," Congress "shall call a convention for proposing amendments." Before becoming law, any amendments produced by such a convention would then need to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.

What sort of language would restore a healthy balance between federal and state power while protecting the liberties of the people?

One simple proposal would be to repeal the 16th Amendment enacted in 1913 that authorized a federal income tax. This single change would strike at the heart of unlimited federal power and end the costly and intrusive tax code. Congress could then replace the income tax with a "uniform" national sales or "excise" tax (as stated in Article I, section 8) that would be paid by everyone residing in the country as they consumed, and would automatically render savings and capital appreciation free of tax.

That's something I think a lot of people could get behind. It will get away from the idea that the more you make the more the government steals from you. Instead, taxes will be based upon what you spend. While some of the bleeding hearts will claim such a tax will “hurt” the poor, I can see exemptions of necessities, such as food, clothing, and medications. Just about everything else will come under the umbrella of the consumption taxes. Savings will promoted rather than punished as it is under the present tax code. It will certainly eliminate the dreaded Form 1040 nightmare every April 15th.

More on the proposal for an Amendment:

Alternatively, to restore balance between federal and state power and better protect individual liberty, the repeal of the income tax amendment could be folded into a new "Federalism Amendment" like this:

Section 1: Congress shall have power to regulate or prohibit any activity between one state and another, or with foreign nations, provided that no regulation or prohibition shall infringe any enumerated or unenumerated right, privilege or immunity recognized by this Constitution.

Section 2: Nothing in this article, or the eighth section of article I, shall be construed to authorize Congress to regulate or prohibit any activity that takes place wholly within a single state, regardless of its effects outside the state or whether it employs instrumentalities therefrom; but Congress may define and punish offenses constituting acts of war or violent insurrection against the United States.

Section 3: The power of Congress to appropriate any funds shall be limited to carrying into execution the powers enumerated by this Constitution and vested in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof; or to satisfy any current obligation of the United States to any person living at the time of the ratification of this article.

Section 4: The 16th article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, effective five years from the date of the ratification of this article.

Section 5: The judicial power of the United States to enforce this article includes but is not limited to the power to nullify any prohibition or unreasonable regulation of a rightful exercise of liberty. The words of this article, and any other provision of this Constitution, shall be interpreted according to their public meaning at the time of their enactment.

Except for its expansion of Congressional power in Section 1, this proposed amendment is entirely consistent with the original meaning of the Constitution. It merely clarifies the boundary between federal and state powers, and reaffirms the power of courts to police this boundary and protect individual liberty.

Might this be the only way to send the federal government a message it can understand?

1 comment:

  1. Before making up your mind please go to: http://www.nolanchart.com/authors/articles/article.php?ArticleID=6334 where the article discusses several errors on the part of Mr. Barnett.

    Also I suggest you go to www.foavc.org and read the 750 applications submitted by all 50 states for a convention. Congress must call if 34 states apply.


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