Constitutional Amendment

Get ready for a showdown over free speech: Harry Reid will push partial repeal of the First Amendment next week

When the Senate returns to Washington next week, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to bring up S.J. Res. 19, a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) that would effectively repeal political speech protections in the First Amendment.

Reid filed a motion to proceed on the constitutional amendment on August 1, just before the chamber adjourned for its summer recess. Although the original text of the amendment gave Congress the sole power to regulate political speech, including campaign finance regulations, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure with substitute language to allow states to implement their own rules and regulations, in addition to those passed by Congress.

The measure, however, is an attempt to diminish the influence of issue-focused nonprofit organizations and political action committees, which, Senate Democrats say, are often funded by corporate interests. Section 2 of the amendment would allow Congress and state legislatures to prohibit “corporations or other artificial entities created by law…from spending money to influence elections.”

A Convention of States A Possible Reality

It’s an idea that has been floating around for a while in some of the more frustrated circles of the conservative movement, and one that recently seems to have become a possible future political reality: an Article V Convention of the States to amend the Constitution with the goal of reigning in the growth and power of the federal government.

The newest movement to save the republic began this past Saturday on the grounds of George Washington’s old estate. Shortly before 9 a.m., nearly 100 state legislators from 32 states filed into the library that sits above the museums of Mount Vernon. It was state legislators only; supporters (and reporters) learned that the hard way, as they called for details or were stopped at the security gates.

The Slate piece is decidedly critical of the effort but it breaks down like this: Article V of the Constitution mandates that Congress convene a national convention of the States upon receipt of application for such a convention from 2/3rds of the available states. Or 34 states.

From there, 38 states would have to approve any amendments before those amendments could pass. It sounds unlikely. But then…

Rand Paul proposes constitutional amendment to make laws applicable to Congress

If laws do not apply equally to Americans and members of the U.S. Congress, they shouldn’t be put on the books in the first place.

While this thought may seem commonsensical enough, it does not seem good enough for folks in Washington. The Affordable Care Act, for an instance, ensures that lawmakers continue to obtain federal employer contributions, which are destined to help them with their health insurance. The financial assistance that lawmakers and some Capitol Hill aides will continue to receive what amounts to an exemption from ObamaCare, which prompted Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) to act and ensure the legislative language is modified so that lawmakers are not exempt from the law.

To prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) drafted a constitutional amendment that would assure Congress “shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress.”

According to The Daily Caller, Senator Paul explained earlier in September that the amendment he was then working on was directed to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts: “If he likes Obamacare so much, I’m going to give him an amendment that gives Obamacare to Justice Roberts.”

A follow-up on the 22nd Amendment discussion

Jose Serrano

Last week, United Liberty Editor-in-Chief, Jason Pye, wrote a column discussing why the 22nd Amendment, the one that limits the president to two terms, would never be repealed; despite the fact that there is been a fair amount of press and attention given to the introduction of a resolution by New York Dem, Jose Serrano, that would do precisely that.

Without getting into specifics, Mr. Pye simply said the reasons why this would never happen were “pretty obvious,” and that it was a non-issue. He is correct. And for many of the regular readers of UL, I’m sure it is pretty obvious, but I thought I would take a moment to specifically talk about why it won’t happen for some of the readers who might not fully understand the process.

As many of us know, there are exactly two ways in which the Constitution of the United States can be amended: either by Constitutional Convention, or by a 2/3 vote by Congress with a 3/4 ratification vote by the various state legislatures.

No amendment has ever been passed by a Constitutional Convention, and it seems very unlikely that it would ever happen. In order for it to happen, 2/3 of the state legislatures would have to vote for and call for it. With our polarized electorate, and since many of the states themselves seem so polarized, it just seems like an all-out impossibility.

A Compact for America to Rein in Government

Written by Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

In 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that the one thing missing from the newly minted Constitution was some kind of limit on federal debt:

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Now that Washington has kicked the can on our out-of-control spending yet again, isn’t it time to reconsider Jefferson’s wish?

It may be easier than previously thought, through an ingenious spin on the balanced budget amendment (BBA).  Compact for America, a Texas-based nonprofit advised by the Goldwater Institute’s Nick Dranias, is advancing an agreement among the states — called an “interstate compact” — to transform the constitutional amendment process into a “turn-key” operation.  That is, a single interstate compact can consolidate all the state action involved in the Article V process: the application to Congress for an amendment convention, delegate appointments and instructions, selection of the convention location and rules, and ultimate ratification.  It then consolidates all the corresponding congressional action, both the call for the convention and ratification referral, into a single omnibus concurrent resolution.

Sorry, Chuck Schumer, Ted Cruz is right about Democrats’ plans to repeal political speech protections in the First Amendment

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) touched a nerve when he blasted Senate Democrats for the constitutional amendment they want to pass that would ostensibly repeal the political speech protections of the First Amendment.

Politico Magazine ran a piece earlier this week by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in which they claimed Cruz is wrong because of certain “balancing tests” on free speech.

Basically, the two Democrats compare their absurdly unreasonable constitutional amendment to completely reasonable limitations on free speech, including safety restrictions, laws against libel, and — drumroll, please — prohibitions on child pornography. Yeah, really, they went there (emphasis added):

Oh, in case you forgot, House Democrats really hate the First Amendment

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats will introduce a constitutional amendment today designed overturn recent Supreme Court decisions by repealing political speech protections in the First Amendment:

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will introduce the House’s version of legislation that would overturn decisions like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC — court cases that helped create modern-day super PACs and stripped rules limiting aggregate limits on donations.

The amendment would give Congress and the states the power to regulate campaign financing, fundraising and spending, including money spent by independent expenditures.

The proposed constitutional amendment sounds a little different from the one proposed by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and backed by most Democratic senators. The original text of the upper chamber’s version, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, would give Congress the power to regulate political speech.

The intended effect of both amendments, however, is to undermine political speech. Because, in Orwellian American, gutting a civil liberty protected by the Bill of Rights is what passes for an election year issue. Or something.

A new low for Senate Democrats: They’re actually running on limiting a fundamental right as part of their election year strategy

First Amendment

Senate Democrats plan to move forward on Sen. Tom Udall’s (D-NM) proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal part of the First Amendment and allow Congress regulate political speech. Because that doesn’t have disaster written all over it, or anything:

It’s been 22 years since the last amendment to the Constitution took effect, but Senate Democrats are hoping to alter the nation’s founding document once again.

The likelihood of crossing the threshold to amend the Constitution over campaign finance is slim to none, however. An amendment would have to garner support from two-thirds of the House and Senate, before being approved by three-fourths of the states.

Despite that seemingly insurmountable hurdle, Senate Democrats are forging ahead with a plan to bring SJ Res 19 to the floor.

This resolution would add a 28th Amendment, stating that Congress can regulate contributions and spending in federal elections. It would also give state governments the same authority in statewide contests.

Democratic leaders have already said they plan to bring the amendment up for a vote in the Senate by the end of the year. But the resolution’s sponsor, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is hoping for a vote before the midterm elections.

Ted Cruz blasts Senate Democrats for trying to repeal the free speech protections of the First Amendment

Ted Cruz

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from the upper chamber’s two party leaders, Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), yesterday on a constitutional amendment that would place heavy limitations on political speech.

The proposed constitutional amendment has next to no chance of passage, requiring two-thirds majorities from both chambers as well as ratification from three-fifths of the states, but Senate Democrats are using as part of an effort to get their base to the polls this fall. In other words, the committee hearing on the amendment was a charade.

But it did hearing did produce some highlights, among them Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) fiery and eloquent defense of the Bill of Rights. The amendment before the committee, the conservative favorite said, “would repeal the free speech protections of the First Amendment.”

“Let’s be clear, this amendment doesn’t just do it for corporations, it doesn’t just do it for billionaires — nothing in this amendment is limited to corporations or billionaires. This amendment, if adopted, would give Congress the absolute authority to regulate the political speech of every single American with no limitations, whatsoever,” said Cruz. “This amendment is about power and it is about politicians silencing the citizens.”

Oklahoma Republican introduces measure to repeal the 16th Amendment

Jim Bridenstine

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has come under intense scrutiny this year due to its targeting of the conservative and Tea Party organizations that were trying to apply for tax-exempt status. For many, that scandal highlighted the need to do away with the embattled agency and find a better, less privacy invasive way for the federal government to collect revenue.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) has taken up this cause. He has introduced H.J. Res. 104, a measure to repeal the 16th Amendment of the Constitution, which authorizes the federal government to levy and collect the income tax.

“Viable alternative plans for raising revenue fairly to support constitutionally enumerated functions of the federal government have been proposed. As long as the 16th Amendment is in place and lobbyists dominate Washington, these alternatives will never be considered,” said Bridenstine in a press release.

Bridenstine is a cosponsor to the Fair Tax Act, which would also repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax. The “Fair Tax” would establish a 23% national retail sales tax. His office said that his 16th Amendment repeal measure also had support from activists who back the flat tax.

The Oklahoma Republican contends that the current tax system is too complex, unfair, and discourages entrepreneurial spirit of Americans and job creation. He also noted that the time needed for taxpayers to comply with the tax code is burdensome.

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