By Linda Bentley | january 20, 2016

Texas governor offers constitutional amendments to restore rule of law

Calls for ‘Convention of States to fix the cracks in our Constitution’

AUSTIN, Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled his Texas Plan while delivering the keynote address at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Annual Policy Orientation.

As part of the plan, which Abbott says can be achieved through a Convention of States, he offered the following nine constitutional amendments that he says will restore the rule of law and return the Constitution to its intended purpose:

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.
Abbott stated, “The increasingly frequent departures from Constitutional principles are destroying the Rule of Law foundation on which this country was built. We are succumbing to the caprice of man that our Founders fought to escape. The cure to these problems will not come from Washington, D.C. Instead, the states must lead the way. To do that I am adding another item to the agenda next session. I want legislation authorizing Texas to join other states in calling for a Convention of States to fix the cracks in our Constitution.”

Abbott asserts the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. is primarily caused by the federal government’s refusal to follow the Constitution.

He said, “Congress routinely violates its enumerated powers, while taxing and spending its way from one financial crisis to another. The President exceeds his executive powers to impose heavy-handed regulations. And the Supreme Court imposes its policy views under the guise of judicial interpretation.”

In his 92-page Texas Plan, Abbott quotes James Madison from the Federalist: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

Abbott goes on to state the Constitution and rule of law are under unprecedented attack today in our nation’s capitol, where Obama has touted his unilateral power to change the law when he does not like the result of the democratic process.

He stated, “Congress is full of members who care more about the trappings of power than actually performing their constitutional roles. And the Supreme Court is dominated by individuals who substitute their personal policy preferences for the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

While there have been numerous casualties suffered by Washington’s war on the rule of law, Abbott believes states have lost the most as he quoted from the Founders’ original design for our nation: “the States will retain, under the proposed Constitution, a very extensive portion of active sovereignty.”

The original intent was to create a government of laws, and not of men, preserving the states “as coequal and sovereign governments because they were the closest – and hence the most accountable – to the people.”

The way the Framers saw it, the States would be stronger than the national government.
Abbott stated Madison rebutted the principal complaint by the Anti-Federalists that the Constitution would turn States into “useless and burdensome” relics, by insisting the States would remain the “most powerful and important organs of American government.”

Abbott wrote, “If only we had heeded Madison’s solutions to the Anti-Federalists’ concerns, our Nation would not be mired in this constitutional conundrum today. But over the last 227 years, in fits and starts, through baby steps and giant leaps, our government lost its way; it left the Constitution in its rearview; and it pushed States into the roadside ditch.”

He points out how America’s faith in Congress has dwindled over the past 40 years from about 42 percent to right around zero.

Abbott provides detailed history of the Founders’ discussions in the Federalist, including concerns that the proposed Constitution “would tend to render the government of the Union too powerful, and to enable it to absorb those residuary authorities, which it might be judged proper to leave with the States for local purposes.”

Alexander Hamilton dismissed such concerns as conspiracy theory and said, “I confess I am at a loss to discover what temptation the persons intrusted with the administration of the [federal] government could ever feel to divest the States of the authorities of that description.”

Abbott wrote, “While Hamilton’s disbelief in the inevitability of an all-powerful federal government seems naïve today, it was anything but in the Eighteenth Century. Back then, the States were the only game in town.”

Part of Abbott’s Texas Plan would prohibit Congress from taxing its way to a balanced budget and would freeze the federal government’s income as a proportion of the GDP at today’s 18 percent level.

His plan would also “prevent administrative agencies – and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them – from creating federal law.”

Abbott states we are where we are today because of our collective decision to abandon the rule of law.

He said, “For the first 140 years of our Nation’s history, things worked largely as the Framers envisioned they would and should. Congress passed laws using bicameralism and presentment, and because members of Congress had to stand for periodic elections, the people and democracy imposed accountability on that lawmaking process. The President more or less faithfully executed the laws without writing his own. And the courts stood ready to police the line between lawmaking (Congress’s job) and law-execution (the President’s job).”

According to Abbott, our constitutional framework began to unravel in the New Deal era with massive delegations the New Deal Congress gave to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, including the unilateral power to write “codes.”

The Supreme Court held that constituted an unconstitutional delegation of Congress’s lawmaking powers to the president, emphasizing the “Constitution requires Congress to make the tough policy decisions; it cannot simply punt those to the president.”

In one case, where it struck down the Live Poultry Code as a violation of the non-delegation doctrine, the Supreme Court, once again, held it is Congress’s duty to write laws and cannot abdicate or transfer its essential legislative functions to the President.

After providing numerous examples of how Congress has gone astray, Abbott discusses, in depth, how a Convention of States can rein it back in.

Visit for more information about the Texas Plan.