Constitutionalist Ted Cruz is calling for some constitutional amendments to decentralize power in Washington. That’s all well and good, but let’s be realistic; there’s zero chance that the necessary two-thirds majority in either the House or the Senate is going to vote to limit its own access to power.
The real and growing hope is in a convention of the states - the Constitution’s alternative to Congress for amending our nation’s founding document.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz wants to add a number of amendments to the U.S. Constitution,” the Daily Caller reported recently. “He told reporters at the Praise Community Church he would like to see amendments added pertaining to a balanced budget, term limits, and restoring power to state legislatures.”
Those are great ideas, but they have limited appeal to the lawmakers whose terms would be limited, whose spending would be curtailed and who would see their own power taken away.
That’s why Cruz and others should focus more on the Constitution’s Article V, which allows a convention of states to accomplish the same goal.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbot has been advocating this since taking office.
“The increasingly frequent departures from constitutional principles are destroying the Rule of Law foundation on which this country was built,” Abbott said in 2015. “We are succumbing to the caprice of man that our founders fought to escape. The cure to these problems will not come from Washington, D.C. Instead, the states must lead the way. To do that, I am adding another item to the agenda next session. I want legislation authorizing Texas to join other states in calling for a Convention of States to fix the cracks in our Constitution.”
Article V of the Constitution says states can amend the Constitution, without action from Congress. Any amendment would require two-thirds of state legislatures approval, so it would be a high hurdle. But it could be the nation s best shot at reining in the federal government, Abbott said.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation released a paper last summer on a convention of states.
“The American people have come to fear the federal government,” that paper says. “Gallup polling reveals that 69 percent of Americans regard big government as a ‘greater threat to the U.S. in the future than big business or big labor.’ As the federal government has grown, individual liberty and the rule of law have shrunk. If Washington has shown itself unable to extricate Americans from the abyss into which it has thrust them, what is to be done?”
The states can act, the paper answers.
“Article V’s inclusion in the Constitution, argues Abbott, demonstrates that America’s Founders knew well the inevitable tendency of centralized power to expand beyond its constitutional limits,” the Foundation notes. “Hence, Article V provides states a means of defense.”
Cruz is right to see the value of decentralizing Washington’s power. But members of Congress have strong incentives to fight that. So a convention of states might be the only realistic way to achieve this goal.