Curb the Feds Via Convention of States

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Convention of StatesThe federal government eavesdrops on our private phone calls and e-mail communications. It targets individuals and organizations for tax scrutiny and penalties based on their political positions. It imposes government-directed healthcare insurance on individual American citizens and redistributes insurance costs to achieve planned goals. It levies thousands of environmental and other restrictive, economy choking regulations on businesses.  In short, over the past 100 years, the federal government has evolved into a multi-tentacle leviathan that dominates American lives in ways never envisioned, and even strictly prohibited, by the Constitution.

The good news is that Fairfax County residents will have the opportunity over the next couple of years to curb the federal government’s power.

A grassroots movement to subdue federal government overreach continues to gather support and build momentum. The movement focuses on states, not Congress, organizing a Convention of States for the purpose of limiting the powers of the federal government and strengthening the powers of state governments consistent with the stated intent and provisions of the Constitution.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has already pre-filed an application calling for a Convention of States (the first state to do so), and the state legislature will likely consider the application during the 2014 legislative session. As representatives of the most populous county in the state, state legislators from Fairfax County will play a significant role in determining whether the state will or will not support calling a Convention of States to craft one or more amendments to the Constitution that curb the power of the federal government.

Convention of States Primer

At this early stage, most people are unaware of this Convention of States movement. Here is a brief primer:

Key Grievances. Over the past 100 years the federal government has amassed power and jurisdiction that far exceed those delegated to it in the Constitution by the states and people. Citizens for Self-Governance, one of the organizations vigorously promoting a Convention of States, identifies four major abuses of the federal government:  1) excessive spending and the debt crisis it has spawned, 2) crushing regulations levied on businesses, 3) Congressional attacks on state sovereignty, and 4) federal takeover of the decision-making process reserved to the states and people in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

Grassroots Opposition. As the federal government in the hands of the Obama Administration has accelerated its power grab at the expense of state authority and individual liberties, grassroots movements organized by ordinary American citizens have sprouted in opposition. The decentralized tea party movement advocating limited, Constitutional government and a free market economy is the best known of these movements. While the tea party and other like-minded grassroots organizations have achieved some electoral and legislative successes, they have not been able to staunch the burgeoning growth of federal government spending, regulations, and intrusions into individual liberties.

Convention of States Concept. Faced with the major challenge of preserving the Constitution from federal government overreach, Constitutional scholars and grassroots organizers have turned to the Constitution itself to find a way to reverse this trend. A Convention of States offers such a way. The origins of a Convention of States date back to the Constitution Convention of 1787, where the founders, specifically George Mason – an anti-Federalist from Fairfax County who drafted Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, raised the question about the federal government arrogating power to itself and Congress being unwilling to limit this Constitution defying aggrandizement. To ensure the people and states had a Constitutional means of opposing federal government oppression, the founders included in Article V of the Constitution a process empowering 2/3 of the states to call for a convention to propose Constitutional amendments. In the current environment, the subject of the amendments would be restricted to limiting the power of the federal government.

Leading Advocates for Convention of States. Over the past couple of years, individuals and organizations have advocated more aggressively and effectively for states to call for a Convention of States aimed at proposing amendments, for ultimate state ratification, that restrict the power of the federal government. Mark Levin, senior Department of Justice official in the Reagan Administration and popular radio talk show host, has written an insightful and highly readable book, entitled Liberty Amendments, which makes a strong case for such a convention. It identifies and explains 11 potential amendments that a convention should consider, including ones to limit Congressional terms, federal spending and taxing, and the federal bureaucracy. Citizens for Self-Governance, a grassroots organization focused on restoring self-governance in America, has established a Convention of States Project that outlines a plan for how citizens can work with their state legislators to call for a Convention of States. The Madison Coalition, another grassroots organization, advocates both re-balancing state and federal power through an Article V Convention of States and restricting the convention’s scope only to limits on federal power as a means of preventing “convention runaway” abuse.

Mobilization for a Convention of States. Under the loose guidance of the organizations listed above, Tea Party, other grassroots organizations, and individual state legislators across the country are beginning to mobilize support for state legislatures to pass calls for a Convention of States. Buoyed by the widespread success of Mark Levin’s well-reasoned book advocating a convention, it is possible that the required 34 state applications required for a Convention of States could be submitted to Congress as early as 2015. Within the Commonwealth of Virginia, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31) will sponsor the application during the 2014 legislative session. Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R-67) is working closely with Delegate Lingamfelter. Both will need the support of grassroots activists to make the case within Fairfax County and across Virginia that a Convention of States is the most viable, and maybe the only, way to curb the power of the federal government, restore the balance of federal and state authority, and preserve individual liberties.

Fairfax Resident Support for Convention of States

Fairfax residents who oppose the federal government’s flagrant abuse of power should pursue the following initial actions in support of a possible Convention of States that would end this abuse:

Raise your awareness and understanding of how a Convention of States could restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments, preserve individual liberty for Americans, and reestablish the Constitution as the guiding framework for government within America. To do so, read Mark Levin’s book, Liberty Amendments, for a thorough assessment of the federal government’s overreach and an explanation of 11 potential amendments to the Constitution that would curb this overreach. Read Convention of States:  A Handbook for Legislators and Citizens, prepared by Citizens for Self-Governance, which outlines the background and need for a Convention of States and offers a plan for legislative and citizen action to convoke a convention. Follow discussions and analysis of a possible Convention of States in the media and on the Internet.

Encourage your state delegate and senator to support a Convention of States, seek guidance from Delegates Lingamfelter and LeMunyon about how best to support their legislative efforts to pass a state application for a convention, and advocate for a convention within your neighborhood and local grassroots political organization(s). The Fairfax Free Citizen will provide periodic updates about the progress of the Convention of States movement and recommend concrete actions for Fairfax residents to take to support it.

The time has come for America to recalibrate the balance of federal and state power and jurisdiction. Fairfax’s very own George Mason provided us the constitutional means to do so. Fairfax residents can, and should, take the lead in pressing the state legislature to approve a state application for a Convention of States that reins in the power of the federal government and recommits our nation to the representative, federal republic form of government defined in the Constitution.

Managing Editor

The Fairfax Free Citizen (FxFC), an online newspaper started in January 2013, provides news and commentary of direct interest to residents of Fairfax County and surrounding environs.


Virginia Free Citizen

About Virginia Free Citizen

The Virginia Free Citizen (VFC) is an information hub, educational resource, and issue-based interactive publication focused on issues important to Virginia citizens. VFC is managed, supported and populated by engaged, knowledgeable free Virginians and authoritative voices originating from the Commonwealth: Americans who cherish freedom and believe in the common good gleaned from limited government at all levels. Read More.