December 2020 Newsletter
- Federalism – The Answer to ‘A Fractured Republic’
- Disperse Power Out of Washington to Unite the Nation
- Avoid Breaking Apart by Rekindling Federalism
- About New Stimulus Funds, ‘Try a Little Federalism’
- Use Article V to Make Elections Great Again
- Article V-Related News from the 2020 Election
- Orrin Hatch: Use Article V to Save the Supreme Court
- Amendments Sought to Create ‘a Democratic Constitution’
- Links to More Article V Web Sites
- Four Good Related Reads
Federalism – The Answer to ‘a Fractured Republic’ –
Peter J. Leithart, president of the Theopolis Institute has written about the severely splintered nature of America in a November 6 posting on the First Things blog. The heading for his article asks the question Is Federalism the Solution?
Leithart alleges that “[p]olitically, culturally, and morally, we’re a fractured republic.” Then he picks up on the theme of David French’s new book Divided We Fall which posits that “there is no single important cultural, religious, political, or social force that is pulling Americans together more than it is pushing us apart.”
Mr. Leithart believes that neither Donald Trump or Joe Biden can heal America’s divisions, saying, “[A] major cause of our fracturing is the nationalization of divisive moral issues.”
The Leithart piece concludes: “Renewed federalism could produce a genuinely pluralist America. Each state will run its own moral-political experiment, without direct interference from other states or from a moralistic federal government, as states currently do with drug laws. Such pluralism will be sturdier than our current enforced tolerance, because each experiment will be backed by the institutionalized power of a state.” Read the article HERE.
Disperse Power Out of Washington to Unite the Nation –
In an article headlined Decentralize Power to Unite the Nation, posted November 2 by the CATO Institute, Chris Edwards seems to agree with Leithart (above). He says, “The rise in federal spending and regulatory power has deepened anger and partisan divisions by trying to force policy conformity on a very diverse country. The federal government tries to impose one‐size‐fits‐all policies on the nation when there is no national consensus.”
Edwards notes, “As Washington has further encroached on properly state, local, and private activities over the decades, the share of people who trust the federal government has plunged from more than 60 percent in the 1960s to less than 20 percent today.” He believes that “the solution is to decentralize power by ending federal programs in state and local policy areas.”
Edwards suggests, “Growing federal power has undermined democracy, community, diversity, and political goodwill. It is a cancer on American governance, and in the years ahead there will be no suspension of partisan anger unless federal power is reduced. It may seem paradoxical, but the way to unite the nation and bring Americans together is to disunite power and disperse it out of Washington.” Read his thoughts HERE.
Avoid Breaking Apart by Rekindling Federalism –
Responding to columnists who lament that America is so divided that it should simply divide into multiple countries, former Utah state legislator Ken Ivory recently wrote A Republic Worth Keeping for the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Ivory points to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that revealed “a deep and boiling anger across the country engulfing our political system.” But Ivory pointed to the federalism principles upon which America was born, and says, “It’s not time to split into different countries, but to rekindle our model of government where people can pursue their unique visions of happiness in their unique and united states. We can relearn how to be one for interstate commerce and international affairs and be many for matters of our lives and livelihoods.” Read his piece HERE.
During November, Ivory, along with fellow former state legislators Kevin Lundberg (Colorado) and Neal Schuerer (Iowa) conducted a webinar entitled Strengthening the American Voice. It can be watched HERE. A follow-up webinar is scheduled for this coming January 26th. Details will be published in the January 2021 edition of this newsletter.
Also during November, former Colorado Senator Kevin Lundberg was interviewed on Counterpoint (a program of Canadian television news channel The News Forum) about the unsettled status of US elections. He did an excellent job explaining the quirks of the US election system to the station’s Canadian audience. Watch it HERE.
About New Stimulus Funds, AEI Says ‘Try a Little Federalism’ –
On November 18 the American Enterprise Institute web site carried an op-ed entitled On additional stimulus, try a little federalism written by Matt Weidinger.
Weidinger says, “[L]awmakers should avoid more one-size-fits-all federal policy, especially since economic conditions have improved significantly in many states. They should try a little federalism instead.”
He makes the case that “[f]ederal lawmakers should recognize [state-to-state] differences and respect the wisdom of state lawmakers to design policies that best suit local circumstances. A good way to do so would be to offer states flexibility over any additional federal unemployment aid.”
He says, “Letting state policymakers make better decisions with additional stimulus funds makes far more sense, especially as more state economies continue to recover.” Read the opinion piece HERE.
Use Article V to Make Elections Great Again –
Right after the November election, Ricochet published a piece by Clifford A. Brown entitled Make Elections Great Again. He says state legislatures “must immediately vote out a petition to the Congress for a Convention of the States to consider an amendment re-establishing real security and legitimacy for all federal elections.”
Brown calls his proposal the Real Voter Protection Amendment, and he offers four suggested provisions that he believes could capture bipartisan support. Read his proposal HERE.
Article V-Related News from the 2020 Election –
The November 3 election resulted in elevation of several political leaders who have been supportive of various Article V efforts. These are just a few of the prominent related election results
Arizona: Kelly Townsend was a State Representative in 2017 when she presided over the Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention in Phoenix… the first national convention of the states convened since 1861 – when states met to discuss an amendment they hoped would avert a civil war.
The 2020 election saw Ms. Townsend elected as a State Senator. She is also a member of the Steering Committee for the Article V Caucus that produces this newsletter.
Idaho: Rep. Randy Armstrong was one of several Republicans elected/re-elected to the Idaho legislature where the Rs now have a 56-14 advantage in the House and a 28-7 advantage in the Senate.
Armstrong says he plans to support efforts to get Idaho to join an Article V convention of states to circumvent Congress and enact federal term limits and a balanced budget amendment. Idaho is one state that has yet to have its legislature formally apply for any Article V convention.
North Dakota: Rep. Kim Koppelman (West Fargo) was re-elected and has since been elected Speaker of the House in his state. Rep. Koppelman has been an active supporter of Article V efforts, and is a member of the Steering Committee of the State Legislators’ Article V Caucus.
Maryland: In this State the legislature referred Question 1 to the voters seeking approval of a state constitutional amendment that gave the Maryland General Assembly authority to increase, decrease, or add items to the state budget as long as such measures do not exceed the total proposed budget submitted by the governor.
The bill’s title was “Balancing the State Budget”. It was described as a way to ensure the state’s finances remain fiscally balanced, and “also balanced between the responsibilities of the governor and the responsibilities of the legislature.” The question was approved by a vote of 74.5% to 45.5%.
New Mexico: Yvette Herrell was a State Representative in New Mexico in 2013 when she served as a co-founder of the Stale Legislators’ Article V Caucus. Last month she was one of the many new women elected to serve in the US Congress.
Ohio: Congressman Steve Stivers has been reelected. He beat his opponent by more than 25%. During the current (116th) Congress, Stivers has been the lead House sponsor for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that would restrict the federal government from spending more money than it takes in.
In 2015 Stivers led the drive to add a provision in the US House Rules that requires the House Judiciary Committee, through the House Clerk, to establish an Internet-based list of applications for an Article V-authorized convention of states. In 2019 the Democrat-led House continued the same basic Rule.
The House Clerk did set up the required web site, but it has never contained an anywhere-near-complete listing of all Article V applications. Find it HERE.
At the time the Rule was adopted, Stivers said, “I believe a Balanced Budget Amendment is the only way to stop out-of-control government spending. I hope the passage of this rule will put us one step closer to fiscal responsibility and the inclusion of the BBA in the United States Constitution.”
Also, Senator Matt Huffman, a long-time advocate for the use of Article V powers and primary sponsor of the Ohio application for a BBA-focused convention of states to propose a constitutional amendment, has been elected Ohio Senate
Utah: Congressman Ben McAdams was a first term Democrat and one of the leaders of the so-called Blue Dog Coalition that supported a constitutional amendment that would require a federal balanced budget.
McAdams stood for fiscal discipline in Washington. He said, “The national debt is now larger than the US economy. The first rule when you find yourself in a deep hole is to stop digging.” He stood for “pay-as-you-go rules to prohibit deficit-increasing legislation.” McAdams was defeated in November’s election in this heavily Republican state… by 1%.
Wisconsin: Senator Chris Kapenga has been chosen President of the Wisconsin Senate. Kapanga led the effort to make Wisconsin the 28th state to request an Article V convention of states aimed at passing a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution. He was also the principle leader of the bipartisan Assembly of State Legislatures which started in 2010 and was formally organized in 2013 when nearly 100 state legislators from 32 states met in a conference at Mount Vernon. Its objective was to foster an Article V convention of states.
Devin LeMahieu, a member of the Wisconsin Senate since 2014 was elected the Senate Majority Leader for this coming session. He will be leading Wisconsin’s largest Republican caucus in 50 years, a 21 to 12 majority in the Senate. He is known for his respect for his Democratic colleagues. LeMahieu has been a staunch advocate for governmental fiscal responsibility and budget-balancing efforts.
Congressional Term Limits Campaign: A few days after the November election, Phillip Blumel of the US Term Limits campaign released this statement: ”At least 93 members of the incoming 117th Congress have taken the pledge to support a resolution to place term limits on Congress. With more votes still being counted and a few special elections on the horizon, that number is likely to increase.”
The December edition of NewsMax magazine features a good overview of the efforts to place term limits on Congress. It is worth a read.
Orrin Hatch: Use Article V to Save the Supreme Court –
On October 28 the National Review published an article by former US Senator Orrin Hatch (Utah) headlined Avoiding Judicial Armageddon. His thoughtful piece talks about the importance of keeping a nine-justice Supreme Court.
Hatch noted that “[h]istorically, opposition to Court-packing has been bipartisan because both parties have recognized the importance of judicial independence to a healthy democracy. Indeed, the lack of judicial independence in the British empire was one of the reasons that motivated the Founders to sign the Declaration of Independence in the first place.”
He offers more background on why nine is the ideal number for the high court and adds, “That’s why it’s not enough to educate Americans on the dangers of Court-packing. We need to go a step further by mounting a vigorous campaign against it.” Then he points out that “Article V of the Constitution provides states with an avenue to amend the Constitution independent of Congress. If progressives move to pack the Court, we should invoke this power to pass a constitutional amendment that would fix the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.”
Hatch concluded by saying, “Article V was built for this very purpose: to act as a fail-safe against Washington overreach. The Founders, in all their wisdom, included it in the Constitution for the day that the states would need to save the federal government from itself. Now, that day could soon be upon us.” Read his reasoned article HERE.
Amendments Proposed to Create ‘a Democratic Constitution’ –
On October 26, with Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court still pending, the Boston Review carried a piece written by Julie C. Suk. Under the heading Our Undemocratic Constitution Ms. Suk blathered on about how the US Senate, the Presidency and the Judicial branch of American government are not “democratic.”
She says, “We need constitutional reform now,” to create “a democratic constitution.” Like Senator Hatch (above), she aspires to use Article V, but in her case she says “Constitutional reform should begin with … changing the Constitution [to] empower the people with a direct role.”
Ms. Suk’s article is premised on her expectation that adding Justice Barrett to the high court would further entrench what she believes are “unrepresentative institutions.” Read her viewpoint HERE.
More Article V Web Sites –
Last month this newsletter highlighted four web sites that focus on archiving Article V-related materials. Two other very important Article V web sites were inadvertently left off that report.
- The Article V Information Center, a project of Denver-based Independence Institute, is composed of scholarly papers by Professor Robert “Rob” G. Natelson, considered to be the nation’s foremost scholar on Article V issues. Its postings are in chronological order going back to August 2014, but a Search feature on the site enables users to zero-in on specific topics.
Natelson’s original research writings focus mostly on the history of Article V, the history of state conventions and the processes/procedures involved in amending the US Constitution. Find that free site HERE.
- The Article V Blog is sub-titled “Squibs on Free Government.” The site is operated by Rodney “Rod” Dodsworth and contains “free government”-focused opinion pieces, primarily written by Mr. Dodsworth (who hails from northwest Florida). The home page contains 41 pages of links to some 400 articles, dating back five years, that are carried on the site.
There is no Search feature on this site, but many of its thoughtful articles deal with Article V and federalism. Find that free site HERE.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Article V Library (http://article5library.org/) has suffered a series of outages, but is again restarted and available. It is the source of many important and valuable Article V-related documents.
Four Good Related Reads –
- Anti-Article V billionaire George Soros “looms large” on Biden’s transition team is an article published by the Convention of States Project on November 12.
The article references a more detailed article in the Washington Free Beacon that alleges that “Soros and his network of leftist organizations launched a campaign in 2017 to end the Convention of States movement to call the first-ever Article V Convention of States. Knowing a Convention of States could de-centralize power away from Washington, Soros and his cronies were dead-set on maintaining their stranglehold over politics in the nation’s capital. Now, Soros has used his billions to place many of his former employees on Biden’s transition team.”
- Polarization has put America’s democracy in peril is the headline on an article published Nov. 3 by Business Insider.
The article reports on a new Ipsos poll sponsored by FixUS (an affiliate of the Committee for a Responsible Budget) about how political partisanship and discord have replaced compromise and conciliation… particularly in Washington. The poll suggests that Americans still have strong agreement on the values, hopes and aspirations they hold for themselves, their families and their communities.
- Ensuring the Integrity of Our Electoral System is the heading of a 10-page section in a free ebook from Heritage Foundation. The book’s full name is Mandate 2020. The important section begins on page 4.
The brief read stresses that security of the ballot box cannot be left to a simple honor system. Congress and the states must ensure that all eligible Americans are able to vote and that their votes are not stolen or diluted by fraud or administrative errors. Every American must be able to trust the process and the result; otherwise, the democratic system itself breaks down.
While the book demonstrates that various forms of voter fraud and voting irregularities have occurred throughout the history of the US, it concludes with 7 specific recommendations for restoring faith in America’s election system.
Many of the recommendations come directly from the 2005 report by the National Commission on Federal Election Reform that was chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III. Sadly, that report resulted in very little corrective legislative action. Click on the title above to download a copy of the report.
- America in 2040: Still a Superpower? A Pathway to Success, authored by former US Comptroller General David M. Walker with contributors Admiral Bill Owens and John Knubel. The book is listed here because, in addition to their military backgrounds, all three of these men have been active supporters of using Article V to seek a more fiscally-responsible federal government.
A Thought to Ponder –
“Let us be inspirited by the genius of the Constitution
and its preservation of the individual and the civil society.
Let us unleash an American renaissance in which liberty
is celebrated and self-government is cherished.
Let us, together – we, the people –
restore the splendor of the American Republic.”
Lawyer, Author, Radio/TV Commentator