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Mark Levin Refuted: Keep the Feds in Check with Nullification, not Amendments!


By Publius Huldah

What Mark Levin says in “The Liberty Amendments” in support of an Article V convention is not true.1

On one side of this controversy are those who want to restore our Constitution by requiring federal and State officials to obey the Constitution we have; or by electing ones who will. We show that the Oath of Office at Art. VI, last clause, requires federal 2 and state officials to support the Constitution. This requires them to refuse to submit to – to nullify – acts of the federal government which violate the Constitution. This is how they “support” the Constitution!

We note that the Oath of Office requires obedience to the Constitution alone. The Oath does not require obedience to persons, to any agency of the federal government, or to any federal court.

We understand that resistance to tyranny is a natural right – and it is a duty.

We have read original writings of our Framers and know what our Framers actually told the States to do when the federal government violates the Constitution: Nullification of the unlawful act is among the first of the recommended remedies – not one of which is “amendment of the Constitution”. 3

It is already proved in James Madison Rebukes Nullification Deniers, that our Framers endorsed nullification by States of unconstitutional acts of the federal government. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison summed it up as follows:

“…when powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act”4 is “the natural right, which all admit to be a remedy against insupportable oppression…” 5

The claims of the nullification deniers have been proven to be false. To persist in those claims – or to do as Levin seems to do and ignore the remedy of nullification – is intellectually and morally indefensible. So why don’t they apologize to the public and recant their errors?

Instead, they continue to tell us that what we need is a “convention of the States” (which Levin and his mentors insist is provided by Article V of the Constitution) to propose amendments to the Constitution, and that this is the only way out.

Yes, they tell us, the only way to deal with a federal government which consistently ignores and tramples over the Constitution is …. to amend the Constitution!

Do you see how silly that is?

Levin’s Amendments

Levin starts his book by saying how bad things are and how the federal government has trampled and mangled the Constitution. Those pages are true. And they serve the purpose of making readers believe that Levin is “on our side”. And because of that, many are induced to lay aside their critical thinking skills and accept on trust what Levin tells them. That is a deadly mistake.

Levin’s amendments actually gut our Constitution. Most increase the powers of the federal government by making lawful what is now unconstitutional because it is not an “enumerated power”. Others put a band-aid on a problem without solving the problem. The amendments pertaining to “overrides” undermine the Constitution as the Objective Standard of what is lawful and what is not – and substitute majority vote therefor. 6

A Defective Constitution? Or a Disobedient Federal Government?

We must distinguish between defects within a Constitution, and a government’s refusal to obey the Constitution to which it is subject. These are different problems calling for different remedies.

There were defects in the Constitution produced by the Federal Convention of 1787, such as provisions permitting slavery. Provision for amendment must be made to repair such defects. 7

But our problem now is a disobedient federal government. That calls for different remedies – and our Framers spelled them out. 3

It is idiotic to assert that you can rein in a federal government which ignores the Constitution by amending the Constitution! Yet, that is “The Levin Plan”.

Now let us read Article V:

What Article V Really Says
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress…” [boldface mine]

Note that Congress “calls” the Convention. The States don’t “call” it – all they can do is apply to Congress for Congress to call it.

There are many questions about Article V conventions; and James Madison raised them on two occasions at the Federal Convention of 1787: 8

•On September 10, Madison remarked on the vagueness of the term, “call a Convention for the purpose”: How was a Convention to be formed? By what rule decide? What the force of its acts?
•On September 15, Madison commented on this again, and said that difficulties might arise as to the form, the quorum, etc., which in constitutional regulations ought to be avoided when possible.
Mr. Madison saw that these questions are not addressed by Article V. Eagle Forum has also raised this issue in Twenty Questions about a constitutional convention.

But since Congress “calls” it, Congress has the power to appoint whomsoever they will as delegates;9 and nothing in the Constitution says they can’t do this.

Now note that Art. V provides for two conventions:

•The first is the one called by Congress to propose amendments.
•After amendments are proposed, Art. V empowers Congress to select the mode of ratification: Shall the State Legislatures be the body to ratify or reject? Or shall each State convene a convention for the purposes or ratifying or rejecting the proposed amendments?
The only convention Art. V authorizes States to convene is one within their respective borders to ratify or reject an amendment proposed by Congress or by the convention Congress called.

What Levin Claims Article V Says

As you see, Art. V makes no provision for a “state convention process” where the States control the convention.

Yet Levin makes the bizarre claims (p 16-17) that Art. V authorizes this “state convention process”; and that the convention called by Congress pursuant to Art. V is really:

•A “creature …of the state legislatures”;
•That during ratification of our Constitution, the Founders always talked about conventions for proposing amendments as representing the States; and
•That the state legislatures determine the method for selection of their delegates; and the subject matter of the convention.
Does Levin cite any authority for these claims? Words of our Framers, perhaps?

No! He cites an article written by former law professor, Robert G. Natelson, who Levin says is an “expert” on this “state convention process” (p16, notes 28 & 29).

Here is the article by Natelson Levin cites as “authority” for his claims. Note that:

•Natelson announces that he will no longer call what he wants a “constitutional convention”. Henceforth, he will call it a “convention for proposing amendments”, an “Article V Convention”, an “amendments convention” or a “convention of the states”. 10
•Natelson doesn’t cite any authority from our Framers for the claims Levin regurgitates in his book. Instead, Natelson cites other law review articles; and
•Natelson claims it was “custom” at the time of our Founding for States to have all these powers in conventions.
Custom?

Natelson’s article is no authority at all. And even if he had proven that the “custom” at the time of our Framing was for States to have all these powers in conventions [someone really should have told James Madison about this “custom”]; what is there to make the Congress of today follow this 18th century “custom” when Congress “calls” the convention under Art. V?

Levin also says he knows Congress’ role in the “state application process” is minimal and ministerial because:

•The Framers and ratifiers adopted this “state convention process” for the purpose of establishing an alternative to the congressionally initiated amendment process; and
•Alexander Hamilton said so in Federalist Paper No. 85.
Here, Levin commits the logical fallacy of “circular reasoning”: We know, Levin argues, that Congress’ role in the state application process is “minimal and ministerial” because the Framers adopted this as an alternative to the method where Congress proposes the amendments directly. Do you see?

Levin next claims that in Federalist No. 85, Hamilton said, respecting an Art. V convention, that Congress has “no option”, “will be obliged”, and that “nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body” (p 16-17).

Levin misrepresents what Hamilton says. In Federalist No. 85, Hamilton merely says that Congress must call a convention when two-thirds of the States apply for it:

“… By the fifth article of the plan, the Congress will be obliged … on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the States … to call a convention for proposing amendments … The words of this article are peremptory. The Congress “shall call a convention.” Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body. …”

Levin wrongly extends Congress’ lack of discretion on the issue of “to call or not to call” to what follows the “call”: How the convention is to be formed, the appointment of delegates, the other questions raised by Madison on September 10 & 15, 1787, and Eagle Forum’s Twenty Questions.

I have never seen any of the Framers say that Congress has no power over what follows Congress’ “call”; and Levin doesn’t produce evidence that any of them ever did.

Levin misrepresents what happened at the Federal Convention of 1787.

This 4 page chart lays out what really happened at that Convention respecting Article V.

To introduce his discussion of that Convention, Levin makes the following fanciful claims:

“The Constitution itself provides the means for restoring self-government and averting societal catastrophe (or, in the case of societal collapse, resurrecting the civil society) in Article V.” (p 12)

“The fact is that Article V expressly grants state legislatures significant authority to rebalance the constitutional structure for the purpose of restoring our founding principles should the federal government shed its limitations, abandon its original purpose, and grow too powerful…” (p12-13)

Of course, Article V says no such thing!

Levin then quotes Edmund Randolph & George Mason, delegates to the Convention, as support for his claims respecting the purpose of Art. V.

Mr. Randolph & Col. Mason wanted a method of amendment Congress had nothing to do with. This became an issue at the Convention; Randolph & Mason held the minority view.

On September 15, 1787, Randolph & Mason said they would not sign the Constitution unless Art. V were amended to require another general convention to approve amendments proposed by what they called “state conventions”.

So they moved that the following be added to Art. V:

“that amendments to the plan [Constitution] might be offered by the State conventions, which should be submitted to, and finally decided on by, another general convention.”

This was voted on and all the States answered, “No”.

So Randolph & Mason – on whom Levin relies to support his fanciful claim that the purpose of Art. V is for the States to hold conventions to amend the Constitution when the federal government gets out of line – didn’t sign the Constitution because Art. V didn’t provide for the “state conventions” and the “general convention” they demanded; and Congress retained its major role in the amendment process.

Do you see? Levin and his mentors are trying to resurrect Randolph’s & Mason’s plan of “state conventions to propose amendments” which was REJECTED by the Federal Convention of 1787!
Our Framers’ Concerns about “Conventions”
Now let us examine the “convention for proposing amendments” which Congress calls pursuant to Art. V; the “runaway” the Federal Convention of 1787 turned into, and “general conventions”.

We saw that James Madison raised concerns on September 10 &15, 1787, about Art. V conventions called by Congress, because of questions respecting how was a Convention to be formed, by what rule, & the procedures of such conventions.

Yet Levin claims that in Federalist No. 43, Madison shows he considered an Art. V convention as prudent a method of amendment as having Congress propose the amendments (p 15).

Madison does not say that in Federalist No. 43! 11

Second, Levin’s claim is contradicted by Madison’s words in his letter of November 2, 1788 to G. L. Turberville on the same subject.

In his letter to Turberville, Madison speaks, with reference to modes of originating amendments, of both a “general convention” and an “Article V Convention”, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, “the origination of amendments in Congress”.

Madison advises that amendments be originated in Congress – not in an Art. V Convention, for the various reasons set forth in his letter; and that:

“2. A [“general”] Convention cannot be called without the unanimous consent of the parties who are to be bound by it, if first principles are to be recurred to; or without the previous application of ? of the State legislatures, if the forms of the Constitution [Art. V] are to be pursued. The difficulties in either of these cases must evidently be much greater than will attend the origination of amendments in Congress, which may be done at the instance of a single State Legislature, or even without a single instruction on the subject…” [boldface mine]

Do you see? Madison advises that when States want amendments, they instruct their Congressional delegation to pursue it. This is the best way for the States to “originate amendments”!

That is the mode Madison strongly recommended; that is the mode we have followed. On May 5, 1789, Rep. Bland (pages 258-261) introduced into Congress the petition from the State of Virginia for an Art. V Convention to propose amendments. But on June 8, 1789, Madison (pages 448-460) introduced 12 proposed amendments for Congress to propose to the State Legislatures. And on September 24, 1789, the House & Senate having agreed on the wording of the proposed 12 amendments; the House requested the President to transmit them to the States for ratification.
If we cannot elect to Congress people who will follow the instructions of their State Legislatures & constituents and propose those amendments which actually need to be made; how can we trust Congress to “call” a convention?

And as to another “general” or “runaway” convention, perish the thought!:

On September 15,1787, in response to Randolph’s & Mason’s demands for a “general convention” to decide on amendments, Mr. Pinckney pointed out that nothing but confusion and contrariety will spring from calling forth the deliberations and amendments of the different States, on the subject of government at large. States will never agree in their plans; and the deputies to a second convention, coming together under the discordant impressions of their constituents, will never agree. “Conventions are serious things, and ought not to be repeated.”

In Federalist No. 85 (9th para), Hamilton spoke of:

“…the utter improbability of assembling a new convention, under circumstances in any degree so favorable to a happy issue, as those in which the late convention met, deliberated, and concluded…”
James Madison warned against another general convention in his letter to Turberville :

“3… an election into it would be courted by the most violent partizans on both sides; it … would be the very focus of that flame which has already too much heated men of all parties; would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who under the mask of seeking alterations popular in some parts but inadmissible in other parts of the Union might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundations of the fabric. … it seems scarcely to be presumable that the deliberations of the body could be conducted in harmony, or terminate in the general good. Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention, which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of America…” [boldface mine]

Do we have “violent partizans”, “individuals of insidious views”, and any who would exploit an opportunity to sap “the very foundations of the fabric” today? Yes, we do. They are in Congress, the executive branch, the federal Courts, “conservative” circles – and they are invading our Country at a furious rate. And what now is the “present temper of America”?

Why a “Runaway” Article V Convention is a Real Possibility and a Grave Danger.

Pursuant to the authority granted by Article XIII of The Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress Resolved on February 21, 1787 (p 71-74):

“Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several states be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the states render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government & the preservation of the Union.” [boldface mine]

So! The Convention of 1787 was called by the Continental Congress for the “sole and express purpose” of proposing revisions to the Articles of Confederation.

But the delegates ignored these limitations and wrote a new Constitution. 12

As to delegates, the Continental Congress expressly directed the States to appoint the delegates.

But there is no requirement in Art. V of our Constitution that States be permitted to appoint delegates; and no “custom” from the era of the Continental Congress can bind the Congress of today.

So if Congress of today were to call an Art. V convention, Congress would most likely get delegates who would do what Congress wants.

And will Congress appoint Islamists as delegates? La Raza Mexicans? Other special interest groups? How can Congress be prevented from appointing whomsoever they will?

And if the delegates duly appointed by Congress, and acting under the Authority of Congress, come up with a new Constitution, will the new Constitution outlaw Christianity? (Obama is outlawing it in the military, and Congress isn’t doing a thing about it). Will it institute Sharia? Will it disarm the American People? Will it follow the UN Model where “rights” are privileges granted and withdrawn by the State? Will it outlaw private property?

And this new Constitution will have its own mode of ratification. This new mode of ratification can be whatever the delegates want – a majority vote in Congress, perhaps?

There is no way to stop them from “running away” and writing a new Constitution with its own mode of ratification. They can cram a new Constitution down your throat and you won’t be able to do a thing about it.

On page 15, Levin commits a formal fallacy (an argument defective as to form) when he attempts to prove that an Art. V convention can’t possibly turn into a “runaway”. Here is the form of his argument:

1.1. He was originally skeptical of “the state convention process” because it could turn into a “runaway”.
2.Art. V says a proposed amendment has no effect unless ratified by ¾ of the States.
3.3. Therefore, the “state convention process” can’t result in a “hijack of the Constitution” [“runaway”].
His conclusion (3) is a form of non sequitur – it doesn’t follow from the premises (1 & 2). And our concern is not with amendments – those are subject to approval by three-fourths of the States. Our concern is that the convention will “runaway” and write a new Constitution with a new mode of ratification which does not require approval by three-fourths of the States. Do you see?

Conclusion
Few of us can name even 5 of the enumerated powers of Congress and 4 of the enumerated powers of the President. Why? Because we never bothered to learn our Constitution. Alexander Hamilton expected THE PEOPLE to be “the natural guardians of the Constitution”. But you can’t “guard” the Constitution if you don’t trouble yourself to learn it.

Since we never bothered to learn the Constitution, we elected politicians who also hadn’t bothered to learn it. So they ignored the Constitution when they assumed office.

This is why, after more than 100 years of electing politicians who ignore the Constitution, we are now under tyranny and headed for disaster.

Do we now want a way out which allows us to avoid confronting our own personal failures as Guardians of the Constitution? When charlatans who “sound good” offer us a scapegoat, do we jump on it? Do we chant, “The Constitution is broken! Fix the Constitution!” And shall we pretend that we too know all about how to amend a Constitution most of us never bothered to read?

Our Constitution depended on our knowing our Constitution and in electing representatives who would obey it – and getting rid of them when they didn’t.

James Madison said on June 20, 1788 at the Virginia Ratifying Convention:

“…. But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks—no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.”

We are in a “wretched situation” because we lost our virtue. Renounce handouts and pride in pretended “knowingness”. Learn the enumerated powers of Congress and the President. This chart will get you started. Learn about nullification. Form delegations and go to your State Legislators, educate them and demand they start nullifying unconstitutional acts of the federal government. States should nullify obamacare! If Legislators aren’t willing to renounce federal funding, recall or defeat them! PH

Endnotes:

1 We must stop believing whatever we are told. We must demand proof by original source documents, and think for ourselves.

2 The President’s Oath is set forth at Art. II, §1, last clause.

3 These are among the remedies our Framers advised when the federal government usurps power:

?In Federalist No. 44 (12th para from end), Madison says elect more faithful representatives!:

“… In the first instance, the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in the last resort a remedy must be obtained from the people who can, by the election of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers…”

But we keep reelecting the same sorry people because we know their names and they are in our party.

?States should nullify unconstitutional acts of the federal government! This is proven with links to original sources in James Madison Rebukes Nullification Deniers.

?In Federalist No. 46 (last half), Madison shows how individual States or several States carry out various degrees of resistance to the federal government’s unconstitutional encroachments. See also: What Should States Do When The Federal Government Usurps Power?

?In Federalist No. 28 (last 5 paras), Hamilton says:

“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success …” [italics mine]

“…The obstacles to usurpation and the facilities of resistance increase with the increased extent of the state, provided the citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them…”

“It may safely be received as an axiom …that the State governments will … afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority…. The legislatures … can at once adopt a regular plan of opposition…”

“…When will the time arrive that the federal government can raise and maintain an army capable of erecting a despotism over the great body of the people … who are in a situation, through the medium of their State governments, to take measures for their own defense…”

4 Thomas Jefferson, The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, 8th Resolution.

5 James Madison, Notes on Nullification (1834). The quote is near the end. Use “find” function.

6 Later, I will show why Levin’s proposed amendments gut our Constitution. Meanwhile, you read the Constitution, learn the enumerated powers of Congress, and see if you can figure out what is wrong with the proposed amendments. Use your own head and trust no one.
7 Alexander Hamilton said on Sep. 10, 1787 that an easy mode should be established for fixing defects which will probably appear in the new system ... the National Legislature will be the first to perceive, and will be most sensible to, the necessity of amendments…

8 What happened at the Federal Convention of 1787 respecting Art. V is laid out in this 4 page chart.

9 “Citizens for Self-Governance”, headed by the Michael Farris who is pushing the “parental rights amendment, represents that the “Convention of the States” will soon:

“…open the application process for leadership positions across the country. Consider applying to be a District Captain, Legislative Liaison, or State Director…”

thereby making the gullible believe that they can be a “player” in this “Convention of the States”.

10 Phyllis Schlafly, Kelleigh Nelson, Henry Lamb and others have done such a magnificent job of warning The People of the dangers of a constitutional convention, that many now understand that such is likely to result in a new Constitution – with its own method of ratification – being forced on us.

So! Proponents now call it by another name: “Convention of the States” or “state convention process”. Is the purpose of the name change to deceive you? To make you think it is something “different” from the Art. V convention Congress calls?

11 In Federalist No. 43, Madison comments on Art. V:

“8…That useful alterations will be suggested by experience, could not but be foreseen. It was requisite, therefore, that a mode for introducing them should be provided. The mode preferred by the convention seems to be stamped with every mark of propriety. It guards equally against that extreme facility, which would render the Constitution too mutable; and that extreme difficulty, which might perpetuate its discovered faults. It, moreover, equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other…”

12 We were fortunate (except for slavery) with the Constitution of 1787, even though the Federal Convention was a “runaway”. Look who was there!: George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin; and they weren’t drowned out by subversives. They would be today. PH
 

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Discussion Starter #2
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/mark-levin-states-should-call-convention-propose-amending-constitution


Mark Levin: States Should Call Convention to Propose Amending Constitution
August 11, 2013 - 11:08 PM

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By Terence P. Jeffrey
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(CNSNews.com) - Mark Levin, the nationally syndicated radio host who served as chief of staff in the Justice Department during the Reagan Administration, argues in his new book—The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic—that state legislatures should use the authority granted them in the Constitution to call a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution.
“It is the only way out,” Levin said in an interview on CNSNews.com’s Online With Terry Jeffrey. “The federal government, Congress, the Supreme Court, the president, the bureaucracy, they are not going to reform themselves, they are not going to limit their activities. Only we can--through our state representatives from the bottom up.”

Levin’s proposal is based on Article 5 of the Constitution, which says constitutional amendments may be proposed in two ways—either by two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress or by a convention called by two-thirds of the state legislatures. Whichever way an amendment is proposed, however, it cannot become part of the Constitution unless it is ratified by three-quarters of the states.

“It’s time to turn to the Constitution, to save the Constitution, if you love the Constitution, before there is no Constitution,” Levin told CNSNews.com.




Levin says in The Liberty Amendments that he used to oppose the idea of the state legislatures convening a convention to propose constitutional amendments.

“I used to buy the argument that it’s a constitutional convention until I actually read Article V,” said Levin.“There is no constitutional convention. It’s a convention for proposing amendments—proposing amendments.”

“I used to think, well, we’ll have a constitutional convention, the people today aren't nearly as bright as our original Framers, and we’ll have this runaway convention and the change of the government,” said Levin.

But after studying the language and history of Article V, Levin realized this was not the case, and given the current propensity of all three branches of the federal government to ignore the Constitution and its original meaning, he decided the time had come for the state legislatures to call for a convention to propose amendments that would renew the limits on federal power that the Framers intended the original Constitution to impose.

“There can be no runaway convention because three-fourths of the states still need to ratify [the amendments a convention proposes],” said Levin. “But we need to make it clear to the people in Washington that we do have a way out. There is a way forward. The states collectively, pressured by we the people, have enormous power.”

In addition to making the case that the state legislatures should call a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution, Levin’s The Liberty Amendments also proposes a series of new amendments that Levin believes the convention should put up for ratification.

Some of the constitutional amendments Levin would like to see include imposing a 12-year limit on serving in Congress, returning the election of U.S. senators to state legislatures, requiring Congress to balance the budget and limiting federal spending to 17.5 percent of GDP, limiting federal taxation to 15 percent of an individual's or a corporation's earnings, empowering a special congressional committee to veto regulations issued by federal bureaucracies, prohibiting Congress from compelling anyone to participate in commerce (such as forcing them to buy health insurance), requiring Congress to publish the final text of any proposed legislation at least 30 days before holding a final vote on it, and requiring individuals to present a state-issued photo ID that establishes their identity and citizenship before they are allowed to register or vote.

Here is the transcript of the CNSNews.com interview with Mark Levin about The Liberty Amendments and his proposal that the states call for a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution:

Terry Jeffrey: Hi, and welcome to this edition of “Online with Terry Jeffrey” Our guest today is Mark Levin. Mark, of course, hosts a tremendously popular nationally syndicated radio show and is president of the Landmark Legal Foundation. In the Reagan administration, he served Attorney General Ed Meese as chief of staff in the U.S. Department of Justice. He is the author of multiple best-selling books, including Men In Black, Liberty and Tyranny, and Ameritopia. We’re going to talk to Mark today about his new book, The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic. Hey, Mark, thanks for doing this interview.

Mark Levin: Terry, thanks for having me.

Jeffrey: You know, some people might think it’s surprising that a conservative, especially one who is such an outspoken defender of the Constitution, and interpreting it according to its original meaning, would advocate ratifying a whole number of new amendments to the Constitution. Why are you doing that?

Levin: Well, first of all, I make the case that we are in a post-constitutional America. I make that case in Ameritopia and I make it in this book as well. Really, if you look at the Bill of Rights, the Bill of Rights in so many ways have nothing to do with the way that we live in this country today. Other clauses of the Constitution--the Commerce Clause, and I could go on and on--the Constitution has been mangled and disassembled after a hundred years of statist rule. The Supreme Court has done the same thing, the bureaucracy, the Congress, and the president today--talking about all the executive orders he’s going to issue. So, when we say we’re talking about the Constitution, what exactly are we talking about? Are we talking about the original Constitution? I am. What’s everybody else talking about in the media today? They don’t have any idea.

It’s hard to describe what our governing system is today. It’s not a federal republic. It’s not a constitutional republic. It’s hardly a representative republic, since the bureaucracy issues thousands of laws every year and we don’t even know who they are or why they’re doing it. So, after writing those other books, I decided to answer the question that I’m asked all the time: Well, Mark, what do we do about it?

The answer is: We embrace the Constitution. The answer is: We look at the Constitution. Unlike our opponents, who seek to eviscerate it, we go to the Constitution where the Framers of the Constitution at the Constitutional Convention said: You know what? Despite what we’re doing here, despite our best efforts to control this potential for a centralized all-powerful government, which is the downfall of every society, the day can come—and, in George Mason’s view, would come--when Congress and the executive branch and the Supreme Court would become too powerful. And they said to our progeny: We’re going to create an amendment process under Article V--two amendments, the second amendment process--and should that day come, you can be able to rescue yourselves and reclaim your heritage.

Jeffrey: All right, now, let me ask you about that, Mark. In the book, you write, you argue that: There must be “an acknowledgement of the federal government’s unmooring from its constitutional foundation. Second, an acceptance that the condition is urgent and if untreated will ultimately be the death-knell of the American republic.” Those are pretty strong words. How close do you think we are to the point of no return in being able to restore a constitutionally limited government, where individuals are able to enjoy liberty the way the Founding Fathers envisioned it?

Levin: I think we’re close enough. You know, a lot of people think it’s over. A lot of people think that our demise is inevitable. When you listen to members of Congress, and particularly Republicans, when they’re talking about Obamacare, it can’t be defunded, or, when you listen to how they talk, there are too many people who have surrendered to or been conquered by this federal Leviathan.

So, if you look at our financial situation, it is absolutely dire. We have $90 trillion in unfunded liability, $17 trillion in on-budget debt, massive QE2 Federal Reserve—technically, money printing--going on, and this is a disaster. These entitlements are completely out of control. You look at the demographics, it’s going to be impossible to pay any of this. There’s not enough money in the entire planet to address these things. So, to answer your question--now that’s just financially we’re here and the problem is--even if we’re going to have a chance to reverse course, to reestablish a constitutional republic, it’s going to be a long haul and my view is we have to start today. So, the premise of your question is important for conservatives and constitutionalists out there: It’s time to turn to the Constitution to save the Constitution, if you love the Constitution, before there is no Constitution.

Jeffrey: Mark, in the book you mention that people of various places in the philosophical spectrum talk about the financial situation you mention being unsustainable. There seems to be actually general agreement that we can’t possibly sustain this path we’re on with the welfare state. Do you anticipate that there could be sometime in the not-so-distant future a political crisis precipitated by the economic crisis we inevitably face and that the sorts of solutions you’re arguing for in this book would be timely in terms of trying to bring us back to where we ought to be when that political crisis happens?

Levin: Yes, economic demise creates political anarchy and that tends to lead to totalitarian types of regimes. You can see it in the Middle East right now, you can see it all over the place.

The bottom line is this: What I’m suggesting is, under the Constitution, people shouldn’t be afraid of the two methods for amending. One method is--I want to be clear about this—Congress, two-thirds of both houses, proposes amendments. What I’m saying is there’s another part of the very same Constitution that people take an oath to uphold in Congress and that those of us embrace and revere, the second part of that Article V says that the states--two-thirds of the states--can meet and propose amendments, and three-fourths of the states under both systems have to ratify. So there’s nothing radical about this, and it is time for conservatives and constitutionalists, people who love liberty, Tea Party activists, to stop allowing the left to tell us how to think, where we can go, to keep us in a box, and I’m saying we need to embrace the Constitution to save the Republic.

Jeffrey: In the book, Mark, you write that you used not to be a fan of that second way of amending the Constitution, having the states call a convention for amendments. Why did you change your mind on that?

Levin: First of all, I used to buy the argument that it’s a constitutional convention until I actually read Article V. There is no constitutional convention. It’s a convention for proposing amendments. Proposing amendments. So two-thirds of the states meet at a convention--and as a matter of fact, at the beginning of our country, states used to meet all the time. The states used to enter into compacts all the time. They don’t do it anymore because the heavy fist of the federal government seems to take up all this space.

What I’m saying is we ought to reconsider that, get back to that, the Constitution encourages it. And I used to think, well, we’ll have a constitutional convention, the people today aren’t nearly as bright as our original Framers, and we’ll have this runaway convention and the change of the government. It’s not possible, because you still need three-fourths of the states to ratify. So, what do I get? I get two arguments: One, we’ll never get three-fourths of the states to ratify, and the other end is, well, we’re going to destroy the Constitution. So which is it? The bottom line is this is a process, a gradual process, and I want to encourage as many people as I can to talk about it with family and friends and co-workers, to explain it, to promote it, because it is the only way out. The federal government, Congress, the Supreme Court, the president, the bureaucracy, they are not going to reform themselves, they are not going to limit their activities. Only we can, through our state representatives from the bottom up.

Jeffrey: So, specifically what you’re calling for is that state legislatures around the country, using their power under Article V of the Constitution, pass resolutions calling for a convention of the states to propose amendments to the Constitution.

Levin: And they’re proposing amendments to the Constitution, to all the states. So three-fourths still have to ratify. This will take time. We have a lot of blue states, who are perfectly happy with an all-powerful centralized government, with governors and legislators that kind of enjoy that. We are going to have a lot of Republicans who are not going to want to fight this because they tend to be weak status-quo type Republicans. So, we’re going to have to focus on state representatives and state senators. And a lot of these states that are blue now, they’re going to collapse. They can’t print money. You see what happened in Detroit. This is just the beginning.

So the left, the statists, have been at this for a century, from the income tax to the elimination of the way the senators were picked, the progressive movement. We conservatives are always looking for quick fixes. You know, if we can’t fix something in 15 minutes, then we give up. I’m saying we have to be as resolute, if not more so, than the left, and begin this process now.

Jeffrey: So, these resolutions to call for this national convention for amendments could be approved by a simple majority of state legislatures?

Levin: That’s correct.

Jeffrey: Would the governors be involved?

Levin: Congress isn’t involved either. Under the Constitution, Congress’s job is ministerial, like a part-time Obamacare employee, where they basically collect the resolutions of the states, they turn it into the archivist of the United States, and if there’s two-thirds, then the states can go ahead and meet. If Congress tries to interfere, as was stated in the Federalist papers by none other than Alexander Hamilton, who was one of the advocates for more centralized government, Congress has no role. If Congress tries to obstruct it or prevent it, the states should meet in any event.

Jeffrey: Now, let’s talk about some of the amendments you’d like to see come out of that type of convention and then be ratified by the states. You talk in the book about how in the Constitutional Convention, they put term lengths on federal officials--the president serves for four years, senators for six, congressmen for two--but they didn’t actually limit their terms. Were the Founding Fathers opposed to term limits per se?

Levin: No they weren’t. The reason they didn’t put it in the Constitution is because they would be shocked to hear of this professional political class. Many of the framers talked about rotation, rotation in office. Jefferson, who was not at the Constitutional Convention, he was in France, one of his criticisms was: Hey, look guys, we have to put this in the Constitution, I don’t think these members of the House should serve more than one year at a time.

So, it was well understood that these were citizen legislatures, a citizen president, even citizen Supreme Court justices, even though they had lifetime appointments, would rotate in and out of office, who would go back home and do their jobs because it wasn’t felt that the federal government was all that important. The thinking was the state governments were more important, and, even more important than the states, your own life and your own family. So, what you’ll notice in this amendment and all the other amendments that I propose--and I don’t claim to have all the knowledge, these are just my suggestions--is that there’s nothing novel or abstract about these amendments. They are tied to what the Framers’ intent was, what the Framers believed at the time, and so there’s nothing radical or unusual about these. What I’m trying to do is rebalance our government in a way that the framers had intended, and said they had intended.

Jeffrey: And, of course, in the book you go back and you point to where Founding Fathers specifically advocated these ideas and discussed these very issues.

Levin: That’s absolutely correct. The things that I am proposing go back to the fundamentals that were debated, not only at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, but subsequent to that at the state ratification conventions, too, which were crucially important.

Jeffrey: So how long would you let people serve in the U.S. Congress?

Levin: Twelve years. They would have 12 years, whether in one house or the other, but 12 years total and out!

Jeffrey: They could serve in a state legislature, they can be governor or they can run for president, but no more than Congress.

Levin: That’s correct. Twelve years in and out. Rotate in and out.

Jeffrey: One of the amendments you offer—

Levin: I should mention that the first 50 years of the republic, 50 percent of the members of the House of Representatives served one term and were out. Fifty percent. So this argument that we need continuity in government, actually, we need continuity in our civil society and that doesn’t involve government at all, does it?

Jeffrey: You do point out that the further we’ve come forward in time, the longer people tend to want to stay in the United States Congress.

Levin: The problem is we do have these governing masterminds, so to speak, this ruling class, and really, these amendments are aimed at unraveling that establishment, because this is absolutely antithetical to what the framers had intended. You know, we rail against the ruling class, and it will be the ruling class that are dug in, and there will be ferocious, fanatic supporters who will be opposing this. But the fact of the matter is, we have to break up what’s going on in Washington and bring the government back to the people.

Jeffrey: We talked about this fiscal crisis, and in it there was this last few years, we’ve had trillion-dollar run by the federal government and we’ve had the federal government spending up to 24 percent--about a quarter of the GDP--every year, just the federal government. You offer a very interesting amendment, Mark, about limiting taxing and spending, and some of it I think will be familiar because there are people who have been pushing for a balanced budget. You call for limiting the percent of GDP that the government, the federal government, can spend in the Constitution. What level would you set it at and why do you think we need to do that?

Levin: Well, that originally came to mind because it was a proposal by the late, great Dr. Milton Friedman. He said the best way to limit the size of government is to limit the percentage of Gross Domestic Product the government can take, and I agree with that. But he suggested, I believe it was 18 or 19 percent. I put it at 17.5 percent, not because I’m some sort of genius, but because I think that’s a good starting point for a debate at a convention.

I’d also do a number of other things. I limit the level of a tax, a flat tax, at 15 percent, and if Congress wants to adjust it underneath 15 percent, that’s perfectly fine. And of course I add a footnote to say that if we can get a fair tax, I’m all for it, but I think that would be more difficult, but I don’t object, of course.

Jeffrey: So, no matter how they taxed it away, the federal government couldn’t take more than 15 percent of your income.

Levin: Well, under the circumstances, no individual--and by individual, I also mean legal individual, corporations, what have you--under no circumstance could they take more than 15 percent of anyone’s income in any given year. I don’t care if we include death taxes, corporate taxes, individual income taxes, whatever it is. And, also, there ought to be no other forms of taxation, like a national sales tax or a VAT tax or what have you. Period.

Jeffrey: Okay, now, I think one of the most--

Levin: And I should add one other thing: I would move tax day to the day before Election Day. And I think this is very important, because if you’ll notice, Election Day and tax day are about as far apart as they can get, like seven months apart, seven and a half months apart. So we’re voting on the promises of politicians rather than the reality of what these politicians have done.

In my view, particularly when it comes to incumbent politicians, those of us who still pay federal income taxes, we pay our taxes, then the next day we go out and vote. And I think that is crucially important, so we are linking reality to the electoral process.

Jeffrey: The other thing is the official language of your amendment says, “The deadline for the filing of tax returns shall be the day before the day of elections to federal office.” So that would mean that if it were in force last November, we would have gone out on Monday and paid all our taxes to the Obama regime and gone out the next day and decided who we wanted to vote for.

Levin: That’s exactly right, and the reason the federal government keeps those two as far apart as possible is because incumbents prefer to tell you what they’re going to do, and issue promises and muck up their records, and others who run for office, again, would prefer to talk about how much they’re going to spend, how much they’re going to give you, how much you’re entitled to. I just feel there needs to be a connection between what the government actually does and how you’re voting.

Jeffrey: Now, we’ve seen, as you point out in the book, in recent years these massive bills. I think the Obamacare bill was like 1,170 pages--

Levin: --but who’s counting?

Jeffrey: Right. But, you know, all the time they’re rolling these things out. This immigration bill that passed the Senate is more than a thousand pages. You have an amendment where you would control the bureaucracy, and the regulations that they issue coming out of these types of legislation. Explain that.

Levin: First of all, those are two amendments. The first one is, these massive bills--again, I didn’t just make these things up, I turned to Thomas Jefferson, who was responding to a letter from James Madison when he was in Paris, that is, Jefferson. And Madison really wanted to bring Jefferson in and make sure he was--because Jefferson was, you know, he supported the Constitution, but in many ways he was an Anti-Federalist.

And among other things, Jefferson said, look, one of the things that bothers me about this proposed constitution and these state constitutions--because these state constitutions in many cases were adopted in 1775, 1776, 1777--he said, look, I’ve got a problem with these big bills that are just brought up and they’re passed. He said: So ,I would propose that no bill can be voted on unless it is engrossed for 12 months, that it is publicly available, on the table, in final form for 12 months without a single change, and then this new Congress can vote on it.

And I said: He’s right, particularly given what’s been going on in our own country with these massive, monstrous laws are passed. And they’re done quickly for a reason: So we don’t know what’s in them. So what I’m suggesting, listening to Jefferson, seeing what’s going on today is, no bill can be passed unless it’s engrossed--that is, it is on the table for the whole world to see, including those who vote for it--for a full 30 calendar days, in final form with amendments. And the only way to over-ride that is with a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress, in case there is an emergency--you know, a war, or something like that.

I mean, how the hell can you have a representative republic and an informed republic with the manner in which they’re passing these massive bills? You see, Washington doesn’t want us informed. Washington wants us dumbfounded. Washington wants to manipulate us.

It’s like this immigration bill. I choose not to rely on John McCain to tell me what’s in this immigration bill. These bills should be on the table for 30 days for you and me and the whole world, supporters, opponents, whatever, to view and to go through thoroughly before they’re voted on. You remember they pushed an amendment at the last minute on a Friday night. They voted on it on a Monday or a Tuesday, and none of us had any opportunity to read it.

Jeffrey: And there you’re talking about the final text of the bill that would be enacted into law. So, in other words--

Levin: The final text that would be the law so the House and the Senate and their conference committees have to be all done. It’s on the table. Then we the people can have some input into it--because, after all, these laws are passed to control us. So it’d be nice to have an opportunity to know what’s in them.

Jeffrey: And, of course, as you know, the Republicans, when they ran in the 2010 elections and they had their “Pledge to America,” they said they were going to put all their bills out there for 72 hours. They’re not even doing that.

Levin: And 72 hours is absurd. They’re not even doing that. Look, the purpose for systemic change is to address these systemic abominations and abuses of the Constitution. This government in Washington operates so far from the Constitution that actually many leftists are proud of it. If you read what Thomas Freeman has said, Richard Cohen, and even hear what members of Congress have to say, you know--Of course it’s constitutional. Why wouldn’t it be constitutional?’ You know, that Constitution belongs to us. This country belongs to us. That government belongs to us. And it’s about time we take control of it.

Jeffrey: And when you look at something like forcing Congress to have a bill completely settled for 30 days before they vote on it, Congress is not going to impose that kind of rule on itself.

Levin: Listen, the people that we’re hoping will reform these things are the people who designed these things. So the idea that they’re going to reform themselves, the idea that they’re going to unravel what they’ve done, the idea that they’re going to control themselves--Listen to Obama! Listen to Harry Reid! Listen to John Boehner! Read what the Supreme Court’s saying! They’re telling us! They’re doing it! There’s no guesswork here.

Jeffrey: One last idea you put out, Mark, I want to talk about here: Under Article V, the state legislatures can vote to call a national convention to propose amendments to the Constitution, but in your set of amendments you suggest even liberalizing that policy a little bit. Explain that.

Levin: Yes, because it’s enormously difficult. Believe it or not, in 1963, Dwight Eisenhower gave a speech, a commencement speech, at a college--the college was actually called Defiance College--and he said to the young people there: You know there’s a provision in the Constitution that you the people can use to control what’s going on in Washington. Because looking back, he was fed up with what the Kennedy administration had done, he was fed up with the Warren court. And he said: How do we address this? And he specifically cited the second amendment process in Article V—no radical, Dwight Eisenhower. And he encouraged the people of the nation to use it.

Ronald Reagan referred to the same thing several times during his presidency because he could not get Congress to vote on a balanced budget amendment and he kept threatening them that the people might rise up one day and impose it on you. I think it is time that we grow this movement, that we breathe life into this movement, that we start having a discussion about this.

There can be no runaway convention because three-fourths of the states still need to ratify. But we need to make it clear to the people in Washington we do have a way out. There is a way forward. The states collectively, pressured by we the people, have enormous power--for the very reason the Framers of the Constitution said two days before the end of the Constitutional Convention. That’s when they adopted this. James Madison predicted we would have an oppressive federal government, Congress would not pass amendments to control it, and we the people, he said, have to have a course short of violence, short of revolution, to address an oppressive government. He was right. This is it.

Jeffrey: And you believe this is it. This is the answer to another revolution. It’s a peaceful, constitutional, legislative revolution, driven from the grassroots up by the people.

Levin: I would say this: If there’s another idea, I’m certainly open to it. But this is not a revolution. What’s happened is a counterrevolution to the American Revolution, which is what we’re living under today. This is embracing the Constitution, following a constitutional process, following a civil, legitimate process whereas our opponents try on everything they can to nullify and undermine the Constitution of the United States. We need to make this clear: We’ve got to get our language right. We’ve got to get our mindset right. We need to spread the word.

Jeffrey: Mark Levin, author of The Liberty Amendments, thank you very much.

Levin: God bless you. Thank you, Terry.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you go to the link, there's a video of Levin discussing his proposed Amendments or his website www.marklevinshow.com, there's a whole lot more.

This is such an interesting debate especially since I respect both Levin and Huldah.

Where would the Founder's be on this? Would Levin's professors disagree with him? Would Huldah's?
 

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The idea that you can fix a government that ignores it's own laws is flawed by way of reason. Reason dictates that if they ignore the old laws they will ignore the new ones too.

The only thing that can fix America is Americans, and they have no interest.
 

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Wireguy, when only half of the people abide by the laws, half of the people do care and hopefully can encourage others to care as well.

Who the He!! is Alinsky anyways? He probably needed a check up from the head up to begin with.

Why did his book get published and not yours or mine?
 
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