Early last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott delivered the keynote address to the Texas Public Policy Foundation. My heart skipped a beat when I read the title to his press release, Governor Abbott Unveils Texas Plan, Offers Constitutional Amendments to Restore the Rule of Law. Take a moment to click the link and scan the highlights. Now, when the governor of the second largest state in the Union, “gets it,” all of us in the COS movement should applaud.
Few can match the combined political and professional resume’ of Greg Abbot. He was a Texas trial judge, an adjunct professor of law at the University of Texas, Attorney General, and a justice on the state supreme court. As attorney general, he sued the EPA, HHS, and the US Department of Education. Oh, and at the US Supreme Court, he successfully defended a Ten Commandments monument at the Texas state capitol. These are impressive credentials.
In his speech, Governor Abbott explained the dysfunction in Washington, DC “stems largely from the federal government’s refusal to follow the Constitution.” Well, yes, he is certainly correct. The rules of the road, the supreme laws of the nation are disobeyed at will. So, the question to answer is, “How do we get Washington to obey the Constitution?” The goal of the Texas Plan is to restore the Rule of Law and return the Constitution to its intended purposes.
He noted, “We are succumbing to the caprice of man that our Founders fought to escape.” That is a noble and high toned statement of fact. Recall that most of our Declaration consists of charges against one man, George III. Over the summer of 1787, the Framers did their utmost to guard against one-man rule, and tyranny in the form of legislative, executive, and judicial powers falling into the hands of the one, the few or the many. While the rise of the Administrative State began with Teddy Roosevelt, and accelerated under FDR, Wilson, LBJ, and Obama, few could imagine a hundred years ago, the concentration of power in the hands of today’s President.
The Governor proposed achieving necessary constitutional amendments through a Convention of States. His Texas Plan intersects with a few of Mark Levin’s Liberty Amendments, and has some original ideas that turn the tables on imperial government. Its Pro-Tenth Amendment features are noteworthy and a novel approach to government that stomps on legitimate state powers at will:
- All scotus decisions, national laws, and administrative regulations may be repealed on the concurrence of thirty-four states.
- The Texas Plan effectively calls for overturning Wickard v. Filburn (1942), which opened the floodgates to regulation of whatever congress thought deserved regulating.
- Another amendment would so much as shut down whatever administrative state remains, by obstructing its ability to violate state law! His fourth suggested amendment reads: “Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from preempting state law.” The supreme law of the land is the Constitution, laws passed by congress in pursuance thereof, and treaties. Executive branch regulations are therefore inferior to state laws.
- Require a scotus seven-justice super-majority vote to invalidate a democratically enacted law. Just. Wow. Since the previous amendment returned lawmaking to congress, this amendment protects the duty of congress and state legislatures to write statutes. No longer would the nation be subject to regular flights of fancy from the likes of ‘sweet mystery of life,’ Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The Texas Plan goes a long way toward returning the states to their proper place in the lives of their citizens. But, on reading further, I admit disappointment. I’m not confident the very experienced and talented governor entirely understands the cure to our ailing Constitution begins with repeal of the 17th Amendment. I do not oppose his ideas; indeed, I fully support them and welcome their ratification.
Rather than deal with unconstitutional laws after enactment, a far better solution is to prevent them in the first place. Returning the states to the senate, where each senator, every six years must justify his voting record to his employer, a couple hundred watchful men and women, will obviate much of the need for states to reverse unconstitutional laws, regulations and scotus decisions. A senate of the states is the answer to the question, “How do we get Washington to obey the Constitution?”
As I intend to discuss in subsequent posts, Governor Abbot justly places much of the blame for the sorry condition of our republic on the scotus. Five black-robes with power to amend the Constitution at-will have done enormous damage. Central to their social justice attitudes is hostility to the states. Experience has shown the scotus breezily shoots down state laws and constitutional amendments. Perhaps even worse, it set federal administrative rules and regulations above state law. Governor Abbot points out from the Constitution, that congressional laws, and treaties are the supreme law of the land; nowhere did the sovereign people grant administrative lawmaking to the executive branch. Absent this enumerated power, it follows that no regulation can be superior to state laws or their constitutions.
Imagine the effect of state-appointed senators! Wave adios to judicial hostility to the Tenth Amendment. What senator would idly stand by at EPA attempts to shut down entire industries? Think of all the horrid and destructive social justice nonsense from the scotus these past few decades, and ask yourself if future presidents would bother to nominate such radicals.
There is always more than one route to one’s destination. Despite the single shortcoming of the Texas Plan, it is worth a close examination; everyone should support this effort. We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Now, it is our turn. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States.
Related post: A Primer to the Preamble of our Constitution.