The Constitution’s Call of Duty

37 years ago I swore an oath, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.  Article VI of the United States Constitution demands that every state legislator take this oath.  For me, that oath remains in force, even though I retired from the Alaska legislature in 1991.

There is one provision of the Constitution in particular that lays a specific obligation on me, and all the thousands of legislators from every state in the union.  It’s an integral piece of the separation of powers, of federalism, and of state rights.

If you study Madison’s “Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787” you learn that the Framers were very concerned about the potential abuse of power by the federal government.  If a President, or a Supreme Court, becomes a threat to our liberties, Congress can impeach, and remove from office.  But what if Congress itself becomes the threat?  Who can control Congress?  Neither the executive or the judiciary was given that power.  That was given to me, and to all of my colleagues who serve in our 50 state legislators.

On June 11, 1787 the Constitutional Convention took up the 13th Virginia Resolve, dealing with amendments.  This, the work of Madison, called for a system of amendment that would not require the assent of Congress.  There was objection to this provision, as unnecessary.  At that point George Mason, the Father of the Bill of Rights, took the floor, and Madison quotes him as saying “It would be improper to require the consent of the Natl. Legislature, because they may abuse their power, and refuse their consent on that very account.”

And so was born Article V of the Constitution, which lays a solemn duty on every state legislator who takes their oath of office seriously.  To defend the Constitution from Congress we must unite to control it, when the occasion calls for it.

That occasion is upon us.  Never before in our long history has Congress been more in need of reform.  Those reforms can only come from me and my colleagues.  The time has come for us to unite, regardless of our affiliations.  We must unite as Americans.

Because the Framers gave us this power, they also gave us the responsibility.  If we fail to exercise this power, we are derelict in our duty, and unfaithful to our oath.

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