Gov. Abbott proposes constitutional amendments, wants to restore state power

Gov. Greg Abbott file photo
Gov. Greg Abbott file photo

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A political firestorm could soon spark across the nation, as Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, calls for nine constitutional amendments to rein in the federal government.

His focus is on Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution, which involves amending the constitution. Over the past the several years, Abbott has taken on the federal government—specifically President Barack Obama’s administration—on everything from healthcare to gun rights to immigration.

Abbott offered the following constitutional 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.

In its most basic explanation, proposing amendments can occur in essentially one of two ways:

  • a proposal by Congress with a two-thirds vote in both chambers; or
  • a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of all state legislatures.

But that is just the first step, because an amendment must also be ratified to become part of the Constitution:

  • This can happen either by three-fourths of state legislatures or conventions in three-fourths of states.
  • The only amendment ratified by state conventions is the 21st.  In 1933, this move ended the national prohibition on alcohol.
  • Unlike other federal legislation, constitutional amendments do not require approval by the President.

Changing the Constitution is no easy task:

  • Only 27 amendments have been ratified since 1789 – ten of which happened very early with the Bill of Rights.
  • Six other amendments were adopted by Congress but failed to gain approval by the required number of states.
  • In all, nearly 12,000 amendments have been proposed to Congress.

Abbott’s speech before the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin could amp up the anti-federal dialogue across the nation, likely leaving Republican White House hopefuls plenty to dissect as the first primary votes are just weeks away.

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