by Jeff Wentworth
On March 9, Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and others held a news conference where they announced support for Texas concurrent resolutions demanding the federal government cease and desist from mandates beyond the scope of constitutionally delegated powers.
I am a co-author of SCR 14, the Tenth Amendment Resolution.
The Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution is elegant in its simplicity: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
No ifs, ands, or buts were included. Yet, the federal government continues to overreach with legislation such as the federal health care act that will force Americans to purchase a product: health insurance.
Other examples include the Environmental Protection Agency’s takeover of Texas’ air permitting program and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s amendment to the education jobs bill requiring our governor to make assurances regarding future budgets in violation of the Texas Constitution.
SCR 14 also calls on Congress to prohibit or repeal legislation that directs states to comply with federal edicts under threat of penalties, or that requires states to pass legislation to avoid losing federal funding.
James Madison, the Constitution’s primary author, said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary…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.”
The Founding Fathers created a framework for the new republican form of government where the power was given to “We the People” and to the states, but listed and limited the powers of the federal government.
While reaffirming the pride of Texans in both Texas and the United States, the resolution resolves that sovereignty be claimed under the Tenth Amendment. It serves as notice and demand to the federal government to cease and desist from mandates that are beyond the scope of its delegated powers, effective immediately.
The concurrent resolutions would enact no new law, but they do provide a method for a state government to convey to the federal government the will of Texans. If passed, official copies will be sent to the president of the United States, the president of the Senate and the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as all members of the Texas delegation to Congress to be entered into the Congressional Record.
You may track the progress of SCR 14 online at www.legis.state.tx.us.
I am confident that the Texas Legislature will do its job. I hope the other 49 states will join us.
Jeff Wentworth is a state senator representing District 25, which includes portions of Bexar County.