The Next Move: Using the Constitution to Save the Constitution, Part III
* This is the final segment of a three part series of post-election articles advocating for an Article V Convention of States. In this final installment I propose an amendment to restore the Commerce Clause and an amendment to promote cultural assimilation. In addition, I address concerns laid out by opponents of a Convention of States.
An Amendment to Restore the Commerce Clause:
Section 1: Congress’s power to regulate commerce is not a plenary grant of power to the federal government to regulate economic activity but a limited grant of power to prevent states from impeding commerce and trade between and among the several states.
Section 2: Congress’s power to regulate commerce does not extend to activity within a state, whether or not it affects interstate commerce; nor does it extend to compelling an individual or entity to participate in commerce or trade if he or she does not wish to do so.
- The original intent of the Commerce Clause was to address states working against each other, imposing tariffs and other economic barriers that impeded growth and the ability of the union to unite.
- Following the enactment of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, the country was divided with the states acting as their own sovereign nations, printing their own currency and imposing higher tariffs against other states than they did against foreign nations in many instances.
- This led to poor economic conditions for our young republic as Associate Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story wrote, “It is hardly possible to exaggerate the oppressed and degraded state of domestic commerce, manufactures, and agriculture at the time of the adoption of the Constitution…these were the natural results of the inability of the General Government to regulate commerce, so as to prevent the injurious monopolies and exclusions of foreign nations, and the conflicting, and often ruinous regulations of the different states.” In other words, the intention of the Commerce Clause was to promote free trade amongst the states and foreign nations, not for the federal government to regulate all commerce and all industries.
- The Supreme Court reversed course in 1942 in Wickard v. Filburn. In short, Roscoe Filburn was a dairy farmer in Ohio who grew and sold wheat exclusively within the state of Ohio. The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, part of the New Deal, set quotas on the amount of wheat that he could produce; when the quota was exceeded he was fined by the federal government. The Supreme Court ruled this did not violate the Commerce Clause because even though his economic activity was exclusively local, it had an impact on the economic market at-large and therefore was within Congress’s purview to regulate it.
- Most recently, in National Federation of Independent Business v. SebeliusObamacare was upheld by a 5-4 decision. Issuing the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Obamacare was upheld based on Congress’s power of taxation. However, a concurring opinion of four justices led by Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed the Commerce Clause was a legitimate rationale to uphold Obamacare. As Ginsburg wrote, “The decision to forgo insurance is hardly inconsequential or equivalent to ‘doing nothing’…it is, instead, an economic decision Congress has the authority to address under the Commerce Clause.” We are now one justice away from the majority opinion of the court being that the Commerce Clause mandates private citizens to purchase health insurance.
- The proposed amendment will reverse these rulings, among others, and restore the Commerce Clause to its’ original intent.
An Amendment to Promote Cultural Assimilation and Unity:
Section 1: The English language is hereby the official language of the United States of America.
Section 2: All federal documents shall be exclusively written and advertised in the English language.
- This amendment is not to be construed as an attempt to demonize or alienate certain ethnic minorities, but rather promote Americanization and assimilation into our culture for the purpose of maintaining and strengthening our civil society.
- History teaches that when a society becomes ethnically balkanized; it is disunited and destroyed from within.
- The purpose of immigration is not to improve the life of an immigrant, but rather to improve the lives of citizens and to better the country. In order for that to happen, the immigrant must assimilate and adapt to our culture.
- In a letter to John Adams in 1790, George Washington wrote, “by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people.”
- In 1802, Alexander Hamilton wrote, “the safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family.
- Hamilton and Washington are not racist nor are they white nationalists, what they are saying is a nation that is not united by one common culture will fall from division. In order to understand what it means to be an American, one must understand our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the principles they espouse. In order to do that, one must first learn the English language.
- Democrat Governor Richard Lamm summed up the dangers of cultural balkanization this way, “Turn America into a bilingual or multilingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual.”
Opponents of a Convention of States have contended that it will lead to a ‘runaway convention’ and that the amendments that come out of the convention will be rogue amendments that will further undermine the Constitution. These arguments are unfounded:
- There exists a single-subject precedent that would be declared binding in the event of a court challenge. For example, there have been over 400 applications from state legislatures for an Article V convention. No such convention has ever been called because there has not been an application from two-thirds of the states on a single subject. In other words, when the states meet, they must stick to the agreed upon subjects and not deviate away from them.
- There is no historical precedent for a ‘runaway convention’. The true runaway convention is ongoing daily in our nation’s capital.
- 38 states are needed to approve any amendment that comes out of a convention. That means only 13 states need to vote down any outrageous amendments that are contrary to the goal of a Convention of States. (i.e. an amendment to repeal the Second Amendment.
- Congress has no power to block a Convention of States from taking place and can exercise no control over the delegates.
- The states choose their own delegates to be sent to the convention.