Congress doesn’t pay any attention to the Constitution, so what good is amending it?
Fair question. If the Constitution is amended to require a balanced budget, what happens if Congress refuses to do it? Do we expect the courts to write a balanced budget for them? How can this amendment be enforced?
We can put Congress on probation. Five years worth. The Balanced Budget Amendment could contain a temporary enforcement mechanism. A temporary Federal Budget Commission could be created, constitutionally. It would consist of representatives from every state. It would have the power to repeal any budget, tax, or other Congressional enactment which it believes is in violation of the BBA. No court would have jurisdiction to review its actions. If, in practice, the Commission proves necessary, the states, through another Article V Convention, could extend its life beyond five years. The members of the Commission would not be required to meet. Voting, and deliberations, can be done remotely.
The Framers vested virtually unlimited power in the states under Article V. Much discussion of the dangers involved in that grant of power takes place. Little talk of the potential to do great things. If the Federal Budget Commission, and the Federal Land Commission, prove successful, they will lay the groundwork for future expressions of the power of Article V. The state legislatures will have flexed their muscles, and there’s plenty of work to do. If 30 state legislatures had the power to veto any federal law, it would mark a dramatic turning point in our constitutional history. Likewise, Supreme Court decisions could be overturned by a supermajority of state legislatures.
This may sound radical. It’s actually just a restoration of the role of the states in our system. When the states met in Philadelphia and proposed the Constitution, and when they ratified it, they did not surrender their sovereignty to the federal government. With Article V, they reserved sovereignty to themselves. The time has come to exercise it. They created the federal government. It’s high time they controlled it.
Fear is all that’s holding us back. Fear of each other. Fear of ourselves. It’s understandable. An electorate that is capable of electing, and reelecting, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama cannot be trusted. But we aren’t putting our trust in that electorate. We’re entrusting the legislative leadership of the 50 states. Today, in 2015, that trust is well placed. As I’ve met legislative leaders around the country I know this from personal experience. They’re good people, smart and patriotic. Fully capable of discharging the duty given them by Article V. They just need organization. That’s what the Seattle Summit is all about.
I’m a boomer, born in 1945. Bill Clinton is of my generation, I’m ashamed to say. We’ve cocked things up pretty badly. It’s time we put things right. We can redeem ourselves.
If we act.
A few donations have trickled in. It’s encouraging. There’s lots to do.