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The Bill of Federalism Project


Volunteer to help with The Bill of Federalism Project.

The Bill of Federalism Project is a non-profit corporation. Our mission is to educate state legislators and citizens on the merits of The Bill of Federalism. To volunteer to help, please go to the bottom of this page and submit the form.

Final Revision, May 13, 2009

You can download the final revision of The Bill of Federalism in pdf format by clicking here.

  

The Bill of Federalism was drafted by Professor Randy Barnett of Georgetown University Law School and is supported by The Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. You can support The Bill of Federalism by downloading the pdf above and delivering it, via email or print, to your local state legislator, requesting that they introduce a bill in their legislative body to petitition Congress to hold a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of passing all 10 amendments of The Bill of Federalism. You can find local contacts to help you in your state here. 

 

 

NOTE: Click here to see The Bill of Federalism with Professor Barnett’s Commentary on Each Proposed Amendment.

  

The Bill of Federalism

 

  

Resolution for Congress to Convene a Convention to Propose Amendments Constituting a Bill of Federalism 

Whereas Article I of the Constitution of the United States begins “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States”; and 

Whereas the Congress of the United States has exceeded the legislative powers granted in the Constitution thereby usurping the powers that are “reserved to the states respectively, or to the people” as the Tenth Amendment affirms and the rights “retained by the people” to which the Ninth Amendment refers; and 

Whereas the Supreme Court of the United States has ignored or misinterpreted the meaning of the Constitution by upholding this usurpation; 

To restore a proper balance between the powers of Congress and those of the several States, and to prevent the denial or disparagement of the rights retained by the people, the legislature of the State of ________ hereby resolves 

First, that Congress shall call a convention, consisting of delegates from the several States selected by procedures established by their respective legislatures, for the purpose of proposing the following articles be added as separate amendments to the Constitution of the United States, each of which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when separately ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States; and 

Second, that any previous memorial for a convention under Article V of the Constitution of the United States by this legislature is hereby repealed and without effect; and 

Third, that copies of this memorial shall be sent to the secretary of state and presiding officers of both houses of the legislatures of each of the several states in the union, the clerk of the United States house of representatives, the secretary of the United States senate, and to each member of the ________ congressional delegation; and 

Fourth, that this memorial for a convention is conditioned on the memorials of two-thirds of the legislatures of the several states proposing the exact same language contained in some or all of the following articles, and is to remain in effect unless repealed by resolution of this legislature prior to the memorials of two-thirds of the states being reported to Congress: 

[THE BILL OF FEDERALISM] 

Article [of Amendment 1] [Restrictions on Tax Powers of Congress]
Section 1. Congress shall make no law laying or collecting taxes upon incomes, gifts, or estates, or upon aggregate consumption or expenditures; but Congress shall have power to levy a uniform tax on the sale of goods or services.
Section 2. Any imposition of or increase in a tax, duty, impost or excise shall require the approval of three-fifths of the House of Representatives and three-fifths of the Senate, and shall separately be presented to the President of the United States.
Section 3. This article shall be effective five years from the date of its ratification, at which time the sixteenth Article of amendment is repealed.
Article [of Amendment 2] [Limits of Commerce Power] The power of Congress to make all laws which are necessary and proper to regulate commerce among the several states, or with foreign nations, shall not be construed to include the power to regulate or prohibit any activity that is confined within a single state regardless of its effects outside the state, whether it employs instrumentalities therefrom, or whether its regulation or prohibition is part of a comprehensive regulatory scheme; but Congress shall have power to regulate harmful emissions between one state and another, and to define and provide for punishment of offenses constituting acts of war or violent insurrection against the United States 

Article [of Amendment 3] [Unfunded Mandates and Conditions on Spending] Congress shall not impose upon a State, or political subdivision thereof, any obligation or duty to make expenditures unless such expenditures shall be fully reimbursed by the United States; nor shall Congress place any condition on the expenditure or receipt of appropriated funds requiring a State, or political subdivision thereof, to enact a law or regulation restricting the liberties of its citizens. 

Article [of Amendment 4] [No Abuse of the Treaty Power] No treaty or other international agreement may enlarge the legislative power of Congress granted by this Constitution, nor govern except by legislation any activity that is confined within the United States. 

Article [of Amendment 5] [Freedom of Political Speech and Press] The freedom of speech and press includes any contribution to political campaigns or to candidates for public office; and shall be construed to extend equally to any medium of communication however scarce. 

Article [of Amendment 6] [Power of States to Check Federal Power] Upon the identically worded resolutions of the legislatures of three quarters of the states, any law or regulation of the United States, identified with specificity, is thereby rescinded. 

Article [of Amendment 7] [Term Limits for Congress] No person who has served as a Senator for more than nine years, or as a Representative for more than eleven years, shall be eligible for election or appointment to the Senate or the House of Representatives respectively, excluding any time served prior to the enactment of this Article. 

Article [of Amendment 8] [Balanced Budget Line Item Veto]
Section 1. The budget of the United States shall be deemed unbalanced whenever the total amount of the public debt of the United States at the close of any fiscal year is greater than the total amount of such debt at the close of the preceding fiscal year.
Section 2. Whenever the budget of the United States is unbalanced, the President may, during the next annual session of Congress, separately approve, reduce or disapprove any monetary amounts in any legislation that appropriates or authorizes the appropriation of any money drawn from the Treasury, other than money for the operation of the Congress and judiciary of the United States.
Section 3. Any legislation that the President approves with changes pursuant to the second section of this Article shall become law as modified. The President shall return with objections those portions of the legislation containing reduced or disapproved monetary amounts to the House where such legislation originated, which may then, in the manner prescribed in the seventh section of the first Article of this Constitution, separately reconsider each reduced or disapproved monetary amount.
Section 4. The Congress shall have power to implement this Article by appropriate legislation; and this Article shall take effect on the first day of the next annual session of Congress following its ratification. 

Article [of Amendment 9] [The Rights Retained by the People]
Section 1. All persons are equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights which they retain when forming any government, amongst which are the enjoying, defending and preserving of their life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting real and personal property, making binding contracts of their choosing, and pursuing their happiness and safety.
Section 2. The due process of law shall be construed to provide the opportunity to introduce evidence or otherwise show that a law, regulation or order is an infringement of such rights of any citizen or legal resident of the United States, and the party defending the challenged law, regulation, or order shall have the burden of establishing the basis in law and fact of its conformity with this Constitution. 

Article [of Amendment 10] [Neither Foreign Law nor American Judges May Alter the Meaning of Constitution] The words and phrases of this Constitution shall be interpreted according to their meaning at the time of their enactment, which meaning shall remain the same until changed pursuant to Article V; nor shall such meaning be altered by reference to the law of nations or the laws of other nations. 

Next Steps This final document will be presented to supportive state legislators in all 50 states, with the idea that they will use it as a “template” in drawing up bills to petition Congress to convene a Constitutional Convention to pass the ten amendments that comprise “The Bill of Federalism”. Upon the passage of these amendments by either a specially convened Constitutional Convention, or by Congress itself, “The Bill of Federalism” will be submitted to all 50 states for ratification. Upon ratification by 3/4 of these states, the ten amendments that comprise “The Bill of Federalism” will become part of the United States Constitution.

On this site, we will be soliciting public comments on each of the ten proposed amendments, and overall on “The Bill of Federalism” they comprise. 

Volunteer to help with The Bill of Federalism Project http://www.federalismamendment.com/

 

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A Bill Of Federalism

Randy E. Barnett, 05.20.09, 04:11 PM EDT

A detailed proposal to redress the imbalance between state and federal power.

 

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Lately some state legislatures have been considering so-called “sovereignty resolutions.” Rather than pass strictly symbolic measures, however, I recommended–in an op-ed last month in The Wall Street Journal–that state legislatures exercise the power given them under Article V of the Constitution to petition Congress to call a convention to propose a “Federalism Amendment.”

This idea clearly touched a chord among the public and elicited an outpouring of comments and suggestions, including here on Forbes. While many liked my original proposal, others wanted to see added provisions for balanced budgets, term limits and other constraints on federal power.

With this feedback in mind, I decided to draft a Bill of Federalism consisting of 10 amendments devised to restore the balance between state and federal power as well as the original meaning of the Constitution. By identifying 10 separate amendments, a coalition can be formed from people who support different constitutional reform measures that could not be combined into a single amendment. At the same time, opposition to any one provision cannot be used to sink the whole proposal.

The preamble makes explicit why such amendments are sorely needed and specifies that delegates are to be selected by procedures chosen by their state legislatures. The proposed amendments that follow are primarily designed to reverse Supreme Court rulings that have improperly expanded federal power.

At the same time, the Bill of Federalism was designed to ensure that current constitutional protections of civil rights would be preserved and strengthened.

Some fear that any amendments convention might exceed the limited purpose for which it was called. Under the Constitution, however, any amendments proposed by a convention would still need to obtain the approval of three-quarters of all the states.

And historically no convention has ever been convened because Congress, fearing a convention, itself proposed the particular amendments requested by the states before two-thirds of states had applied for a convention.

When the Equal Rights Amendment came close to final approval by the states, the Supreme Court rendered the ERA unnecessary by modifying the Court’s treatment of sex discrimination. I fully expect that, should even a handful of states approve this proposal and submit it to Congress and to other states, it will markedly affect the terms of political debate.

It will become the rallying cry of Tea Parties and other citizen groups across the nation and, like the Contract with America, can provide an organizing document for candidates seeking state and federal office. Candidates to state legislatures can campaign on proposing it to Congress, and candidates for Congress can campaign on proposing it for approval by the states.

And I fully expect that the Supreme Court would try to forestall its adoption by moving toward the original meaning of the Constitution, which it is always free to do. After all, even without a Bill of Federalism, the federalism embodied in the written Constitution is still the Supreme Law of the Land.

Click here for Randy Barnett’s Bill of Federalism

Randy Barnett teaches constitutional law at the Georgetown Law Center and is author of Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty (Princeton 2005).

See also: Reviving Federalism

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First Principles: Restored

A National Election in 2010

Written by Bill Hennessy on February 15, 2010 – 0 Comments
Categories: 2010 Election, Headline

On a conference call tonight I heard a woman from New York State cry. She cried because she feels left out of the most important citizens uprising in 200 years in America.  She feels left out because, in her view, the Republicans who run in her part of New York are no more conservative than the Democrats.  She envies those of us in more balanced or conservative places.

Well, 2010 is the year that every American conservative can change the course of history.

We on the right sometimes let our love of federalism cloud our view of what’s really happened to the balance of power between states and the U.S. government.  In recent years, our myopia has led many of us to ignore important races where we don’t have a vote.  We even criticize “outside influence” on elections. I was personally criticized for wasting time and energy on a race in New York’s 23rd District last fall when there were races right here in St. Louis, albeit 13 months away. 

What the critics missed—what i missed for a long time—is that American politics changed.  Somewhere along the way, we reached the point at which my representation was less important than the aggregate in Congress.  Because the United States government has so overwhelmed the federalist system, our acting as if federalism were still the order of the day serves only to advance statism.  In other words, we need to grow up and deal with the world as it exists.

Does this mean local doesn’t matter?  No. It means that your local race is not more important than the national election as a whole.  It means that you don’t get to sit-out this election just because your congressional district is uncontested and your U.S. Senators are not up this year.  If that’s the case, then you owe it to your fellow Americans to jump into some other contested race as if it were your own.  It means that you owe it to your children to support a candidate in another district or another state. 

Mark Skoda, President of Ensuring Liberty and leader in the Memphis Tea Party, recently pointed out that Scott Brown’s election tipped the balance of power for people in all 50 states and the territories.  To pretend that race was about Massachusetts only was to ignore the reality of American government. Scott Brown’s win will effect your life as much or more as a U. S. Senate race in your own state. 

In 2010, voters will decide 435 House and 37 Senate races .  Many of these races are either uncontested, solid Democrat or solid Republican. (Check here: House | Senate).  Conservatives need to win a majority of these races.  We do not have to win any one race in particular

For example, I hear from many people who are concerned about the U. S. Senate race in Missouri.  People feel cheated by the current Republican field. At the same time, voters don’t want Missouri to send two hard left Democrats to the U.S. Senate. I understand.  I don’t want my home state to have two leftists in the U.S. Senate, either.  But if those liberal Democrats are members of the Senate’s minority instead of the majority, I can live with it.  Again, we have to win the majority of the races; we don’t have win any one race in particular. 

Ensuring Liberty PAC gives Tea Partiers and other conservatives the opportunity to support conservative candidates in critical races anywher in the country. ELPAC is managed by local Tea Party leaders who want to use Scott Brown’s campaign as a model for directing scarce dollars and activists to the right campaign at the right time with the right tools.  For those who live in districts or states without key races, ELPAC gives you a chance to change the way the next 2 years turn out. It’s your key to changing history.

So let’s stop pretending that the states still have a voice as loud as the Founders intended.  They don’t.  The U.S. government has muzzled the states.  By considering 2010 and 2012 national elections, we can begin restoring a real balance between the states and the government in Washington. This year, you have more political power than ever before if you choose to exercise it. Ensuring Liberty PAC is one way to maximize your advantage.

 

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