Probably like many other Tea Party supporters, I’m at the point of wondering, what next? A lot of the big Tea Party sites are soliciting ideas.  I’ve seen a lot of emphasis put on influencing government at the local level, from simply getting engaged in the debate, to actively letting the local politicos know what you think, to encouraging people to run for office themselves.  All are terrific ideas, and have a big potential for success.  But it would be good to have something to aim at on the state and national level.

Randy Barnett of WSJ has an idea on which the Tea Party movement and state sovereignty support groups can focus some of their energy.  The Case for a Federalism Amendment
How the Tea Partiers can make Washington pay attention.

While well-intentioned, such symbolic resolutions [declaring sovereignty] are not likely to have the slightest impact on the federal courts, which long ago adopted a virtually unlimited construction of Congressional power. But 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.

An amendments convention is feared because its scope cannot be limited in advance. The convention convened by Congress to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation produced instead the entirely different Constitution under which we now live. Yet it is precisely the fear of a runaway convention that states can exploit to bring Congress to heel.

Here’s how: State legislatures can petition Congress for a convention to propose a specific amendment. Congress can then avert a convention by proposing this amendment to the states, before the number of petitions reaches two-thirds. It was the looming threat of state petitions calling for a convention to provide for the direct election of U.S. senators that induced a reluctant Congress to propose the 17th Amendment, which did just that.

I’m all for bringing Congress to heel.  What does he suggest?  Either repeal the Sixteenth Amendment, the one that allows a Federal income tax, and have Congress replace it with some kind of consumer tax, or include that as part of a Federalism Amendment.  He lists proposed sections of this amendment and gives his reasons for including them.  You should read the article to get the whole picture of what he proposes.

Definitely an idea worth considering.  While I enjoy posting news about state sovereignty initiatives, I’m not sure that, by themselves, they can provoke any real change.  This sort of thing would give those resolutions the real-world bite they lack and a national platform on which to promote the principles underlying the Tea Party movement.

H/T Instapundit

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