Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday called for a constitutional convention to gather and adopt nine new amendments he proposed in what he’s billing as “the Texas plan.”
“Departures from the Constitution are not the aberration. Now they have become the norm,” said Abbott, speaking at an event by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank in Austin. His proposed amendments — which include allowing a two-thirds vote of the states to repeal any federal law and preventing Congress from regulating economic activity that takes place all within the borders of one state — would “put teeth in the 10th Amendment” and guarantee states’ rights, he said.
The ambitious proposal speaks to the level of unhappiness Abbott and other conservatives feel with President Barack Obama. But it would be an uphill battle, as the Constitution requires two-thirds of states to form a convention and three-quarters to ratify an amendment.
The Constitution has been amended 27 times, most recently in 1992.
Although they have lost the last two presidential elections, Republicans have dominated races for state offices in recent years, perhaps making it an opportune time for the party to push for constitutional changes. Republicans hold 32 governorships and control 31 state legislatures. If it gained the supported of independent Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, a GOP bloc would have the top officials in two-thirds of the states.
Nonetheless, if the group’s amendments appealed only to conservatives, it would be a difficult task. Republicans don’t have full control of many of the state houses they lead, meaning Democrats may be able to block proposals, and several of the GOP governors are in blue states that could switch hands in upcoming elections.
Here are Abbott’s proposed amendments:
“1. Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State.
“2. Require Congress to balance its budget.
“3. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from creating federal law.
“4. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from preempting state law.
“5. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
“6. Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
“7. Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
“8. Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
“9. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation.”
For reference, here’s Article V of the Constitution, which lays out the procedures for constitutional amendments:
“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; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”