Stopping the Locomotive Jordan Sillars October 21, 2013 Michael Farris No one can call themselves a conservative and believe the federal government is governing in a proper manner. The question is: What solution can be found to stop this federal abuse of power? Mark Levin and I are among the leaders calling for a Convention of States, which uses Article V to employ the unilateral authority of the states to implement proper limitations on the federal government. However, voices from within the conservative movement are helping big government by throwing cold water on the very solution that George Mason gave us at the Constitutional Convention. One recent blogger listed several arguments as to why George Mason, Mark Levin, and Mike Farris are wrong about using a Convention of the States. This is my answer to one of her argumenta. Naysayer’s Argument: “The delegates to an Article V Convention would be the same tyrants that ignore their Oath of Office and refuse to utilize and enforce the 10th Amendment, which allows for a collective authority without resorting to a constitutional convention.” This blogger contends that we cannot trust our federal elected officials or our state elected officials. They are all tyrants. This argument, based on hopelessness, offers no solution. And she is simply wrong — at least in a structural sense. Her reason for arguing all state-level officials are tyrants is that in Texas some legislators refused to support certain nullification measures. She also argues these legislators improperly refused to use the 10th Amendment. The Tenth Amendment is not a weapon state legislators can readily use to stop overreach by Congress. It is a formal structural limitation on the power of the federal government. It is primarily enforced by state attorney generals suing to stop the feds from invading their power. This is exactly what a number of attorney generals did when they challenged Obamacare. They actually won a partial victory on state’s rights grounds in that case. This was done despite the fact that the Supreme Court has become part of the Washington, D.C., power structure rather than serving as a truly independent judiciary. Blaming state legislators for 10th Amendment violations is misguided. Blame Congress. Blame the Supreme Court. Blame some state attorney generals. In fact, blame voters because we keep re-electing people to Congress who routinely abuse the 10th Amendment. State legislators have extremely limited options (other than a Convention of States) to directly enforce the 10th Amendment. Moreover, this blogger’s advocacy for nullification as a solution to a runaway federal government is about as effective as trying to stop a runaway locomotive by standing on the train track while shouting, “Stop train!” There is no power in mere shouting. The scope of the federal abuses of power makes the theory of nullification simply unworkable. Thousands of laws and regulations have been enacted using an improper interpretation of the Commerce Clause. Nullification would require 50 separate states to nullify each and every one of these laws and regulations. Fifty states times 2,000 laws equal 100,000 laws needing to be passed—and this would be just the first of the needed acts of nullification. This is not going to happen, and there is real reason to doubt that any nullification pronouncements would stop the runaway locomotive of federal power. Nullification is not found in the Constitution—the Convention of States is right there in the black and white of Article V. The Constitution gives the states real power when they act together. That is what Article V promises. When the states act together in a Convention of the States, they can unilaterally propose amendments that will be returned to the States for ratification. Neither Congress nor the Federal Courts can stop them. The Governor cannot stop them. The President cannot stop them. The state legislators hold all the levers of power. This is not mere shouting at the locomotive: it is erecting a mountain of solid granite in the train’s path. When a locomotive hits a mountain, the mountain wins. Ultimately, this blogging naysayer is focused on the character of men rather than on structure of power. At the heart of her argument is the central political fallacy of our era—if we just elect the right people to office all will be well. Baloney. I think the Founders got it right when they created a system of limited government, federalism, and checks and balances. Why did they do this? They knew that ultimately every elected official is tempted to abuse his power. They gave us checks and balances. Each branch has the power to check the others. The power is divided between the states and federal government. And the states have been given the power to limit the power of their competition in Washington, D.C. State legislators may not willingly limit their own powers—but it is in their self-interest to limit the power of the federal government. Checks and balances. Bloggers can blog until Jesus returns, and we will never have perfect elected officials. We have to learn to use competition between the branches to check runaway power. Today it is the federal government that is the power abuser. We need to use the Founder’s own solution to stop the tyranny. We can and must use the competitive power of the states to curtail federal power and reinstitute true and effective limitations. Sanballat (a naysaying blogger of ancient Israel) built no walls for Jerusalem. Nehemiah built walls while Sanballat griped from the sidelines. If we listen to naysayers, the walls we need to protect our liberty will never be built.