It’s not the Convention of States proposal. Because it contains term limits, the math doesn’t work. You have two groups of state legislators, one of which supports the part of CoS dealing with reducing the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. The other group supports term limits. There is an imperfect correlation between the two, though both, taken separately, have supermajority support. There are legislators who support one, but not the other. Legislators who support both are not a supermajority, so Article V won’t work.
This was brought home to us in Wyoming. House Speaker Kermit Brown doesn’t like term limits, and he thought our BBA allowed for them. He was confusing us with CoS. When Bill Fruth showed him that was not the case, he released his hold on our bill.
The Wyoming legislature doesn’t like Congressional term limits. Because of their reliance on a royalty revenue sharing arrangement with the feds, they are vulnerable. Budget cutters are always calling this arrangement “wasteful” and want to cut it or eliminate it. This idea hasn’t gotten any where in Congress, largely because of the power of Wyoming’s Senators. Enzi is Chairman of the Budget Committee. Barrasso is #4 in the Senate leadership. Wyoming wants these men to have the power to protect them. They like what they’ve got, and they want to keep them.
So if you’re pushing term limits you’re never going to get Wyoming. You’ve got the same problem in other states as well. When Ted Stevens was alive term limits were dead in Alaska. The man was a money machine, pumping billions of federal dollars into the Alaska economy. Other supposedly conservative states have the same situation.
So forget term limits, at least for now. 30 years ago I got all excited about Article V because I saw it as a way to get term limits. I wanted to run for Congress, and my path was blocked. I confused public support for the idea with support in state legislatures. I was young, and foolish.
So if term limits, and CoS, are off the table, what’s next? Call it the Repeal Amendment. Every two years each state legislature elects a representative to a constitutionally created entity which has the power to repeal federal law. I don’t know what to call this thing. The State Veto Commission, or something. Every year the 50 representatives meet to decide what federal laws to repeal. You probably only want them to have the power to veto newly enacted laws, otherwise they might run wild. Running wild actually appeals to me, but people are conservative, and this is an unfamiliar idea, so you need to go slow. Repeal would require a supermajority. I’d like 3/5, but you may only be able to sell 2/3. You’ve got to get 38 states to go along with this.
So if Congress passes some abomination like Obamacare, the states, and the people, can just toss it out. Every time Congress passed a law they’d have to make the calculation. Will this pass muster with the states?
Right now, I think you could sell this, particularly if the BBA Convention has been successful. Article V will no longer be this scary thing. It’s just part of the Constitution, no big deal. Everybody hates Congress, and clipping its wings has appeal.
Blue states won’t like it, but there aren’t that many that are true blue. It varies, but right now I count around ten hard core blue. Hawaii, California, Illinois and the northeast excluding New Hampshire is about all they’ve got. And even some of them have shown streaks of red, with Maine, Maryland and Illinois having elected conservative Republican governors.
I want term limits as much as the next guy. But as long as states like Wyoming and Alaska are on the tit, it’s going to be tough. These are two states that will benefit enormously from the Reagan Amendment. Maybe they can be weaned.
Severe term limits were the core of Roman law. When Tiberius Gracchus, a liberal, succeeded in breaking them, the Roman Republic was broken. Caesar didn’t come along for another 90 years, but it was just a matter of time. The genie was out of the lamp. The Romans lost their law, and their freedom.
So, hell yes, I want term limits. We might get them down the road.
Just not yet.