The Texas House Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility heard testimony yesterday regarding the Convention of States resolution, HJR 77.
From the very beginning, our team could tell it was going to be an excellent hearing.
Nearly everyone in the packed committee room was there to support the Convention of States Project, and our Texas team had more than a dozen witnesses signed up to speak.
The resolution’s sponsor, Representative Rick Miller, started the testimony by relating how public opinion has changed regarding a Convention of States.
When he first began teaching on Article V, no one knew much about it. Now, according to Miller, the movement has gone from, “Why aren’t we doing this?” to “Here’s how we can do it.”
The Convention of States Project has put “meat on the bones” of the Article V option, he said, and he’s happy to see the movement picking up steam.
The testimonies following Rep. Miller’s were all heartfelt, well-spoken, and well-informed; and the committee members were clearly impressed with the passion and winsomeness of the Texas team.
Texas Legislative Liaison Martin Harry, for example, explained how the Framers included the Convention of States process so that, if the federal government grew too large and powerful, the Constitution could be amended by the people without having to call another constitutional convention.
Because of this, he explained, it doesn’t make sense to simultaneously revere the Constitution and oppose a Convention of States.
“How can one claim,” he concluded, “to revere the Framers and champion the inviolability of the Constitution, but then argue against following the one means those same Framers gave us to preserve the balance of power that they envisioned?”
Arthur Bedford, a Texas District Captain, also gave an excellent testimony. He succinctly and clearly explained how the Constitution-as-written has turned into the Constitution-as-interpreted by the Supreme Court.
“The improper aggregation of power arises indirectly from the Constitution itself,” he said. “It permits the federal judiciary to be its final interpreter. Today, the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court is a major problem.”
“Two of the most abused provisions,” Bedford continued. “Are the Interstate Commerce Clause and the General Welfare Clause. And they’ve been easy to abuse because they were not written tightly enough to effectively implement the Framers’ intentions.”
Buford went on to explain how the Interstate Commerce Clause was intended to allow Congress to set rules for interstate shipping. As interpreted, it allows Congress to regulate any part of our lives that has a dollar sign attached to it.
Similarly, our Framers view of the General Welfare Clause was a limitation on spending. The General Welfare Clause as interpreted, Buford said, allows Congress to tax and spend for “any fool thing it desires.”
Tamara Colbert, the Texas State Director, also testified.
Speaking of those who are against a Convention of States, she said, “We’ve heard a lot about, ‘There’s no guarantees and we’re afraid.’ Well, if that’s the case then stay in bed.”
“George Washington didn’t have any guarantees either,” she continued. “But Freedom still burns in our hearts, in this nation. Why are there 20,000 people a month trying to get across the Texas border? They want freedom. They want prosperity.”
She concluded with a call to action to the legislators on the committee. “You’re the last line of defense for all of us against the tyrannical federal government. We need to bring power back to the states, where we all have a chance to work with you.”
“We were founded on the bootstraps of bold ideas. We don’t have that in Washington. We’re completely upside down. The balance of power has shifted. The states gave the federal government life. It’s time to reclaim that balance – shift it back.”