Why an Amendments Convention is not a “Constitutional Convention”

Sometimes a convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution is referred to as a “constitutional convention.” That title is both wrong and fatally misleading.

The correct name—given by the Constitution itself—is convention for proposing amendments. Other accurate names are amendments convention, Article V convention, or convention of the states. In the Founding Era and during the early Republic, the last name was most frequently used.

Article V of the Constitution permits either Congress or a “Convention for proposing Amendments” to propose amendments for state ratification or rejection. The convention for proposing amendments was based partly on similar provisions in state constitutions. It also was based partly on the practice of colonies and states sending delegations (“committees”) of delegates (“commissioners”) to work out answers to common problems.

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Time to Make Some Noise for NDAA Nullification in Tennessee!

As of now, the Law Enforcement Communications Act (HB2619/SB2669)has been taken off notice in the General Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.  The reason is that there has been so much opposition to the legislation, specifically from Republican members of the subcommittee, that the sponsor, Rep. Bill Dunn, has taken it off notice to prevent it from getting voted down.

Quite simply, the only way to get this bill passed is to call down the thunder and lightning on these legislators in the form of phone calls and e-mails to insist that they pass this bill.  If we don’t raise a torrential storm of calls and e-mails, this bill will go nowhere.

It’s time to make some noise Tennesseans, and stop the NDAA in its tracks!

Action Items:

1.  Contact the members of the subcommittee and demand that they pass HB2619/SB2669 without weakening it in any way.  Be polite but firm and let them know that if they do not pass this bill, you will work hard to make sure that they are not in office in 2013.  Keep in mind that we are getting opposition from legislators in both political parties.

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EPA’s Scandalous Policies vs. States’ Responsibility

The EPA pesticide and herbicide approval program requires industry manufacturer applicants to fund the studies that are submitted.  This means that if companies like Monsanto or Dow Chemical have a new product, they are required under EPA rules to pay for all of the safety testing when they apply for approval of a new weed or bug killer.

In the absence of independent testing and oversight, there appears to be a wide open door for potential fraud as manufacturer applicants could cherry pick their studies and simply use ones that show favorable results.

Templates were devised by to make industry manufacturer applicants’ study data uniform in a 2002 NAFTA deal struck between the EPA and Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PRMA).  Templates are used so that the EPA and PRMA can approve of applicants’ poisons more quickly and with fewer resources.  The agencies hope to review approved pesticides only every 15 years.

You can find the profile of these testing templates on the EPA website.

States Carry the Primary Responsibility

On the EPA’s website, they say that after a pesticide is registered (approved) by the EPA, states may have more strict laws regarding poisons and it is up to the manufacturer to comply with state laws in order to register their product in the state.

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Utah Bill Would Take Ownership of Federal Lands

The Utah bill H.B. 511 titled Eminent Domain of Federal Land was introduced February 27 and on March 2 it was submitted to Rules Committee.

As stated:
This bill authorizes a political subdivision to exercise eminent domain authority on property possessed by the federal government unless the property was acquired by the federal government with the consent of the Legislature and in accordance with the United States Constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 17.

To the point this bill would require that the federal government turn over to the state all lands within the boundaries of the state of Utah that are presently under its control unless the state of Utah had deeded that land to them.

Now here is where it gets interesting:
As required by legislative rule and practice, the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel provides the following legislative review note to assist the Legislature in making its own determination as to the constitutionality of the bill.

They have stated that:
Two clauses in the U.S. Constitution empower the federal government to own and retain land.  The first, the Enclave Clause, authorizes the federal government to “purchas[e] by the Consent of the Legislature of the State” land for specific and enumerated purposes like military structures “and other needful Buildings.” U.S. Const. art. I, sec. 8, cl. 17. This bill would not affect lands acquired by the federal government in accordance with the Enclave Clause.

The second, the “Property Clause,” authorizes Congress “to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States…” U.S. Const. art. IV, sec. 3, cl. 2. Unlike the Enclave Clause, the Property Clause does not require that the federal government receive a state legislature’s consent to own land. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that “Congress has the same power over [territory] as over any other property belonging to the United States; and this power is vested in Congress without limitation…”

Parties contesting federal control or ownership of public lands under the Property Clause have argued that the equal footing doctrine requires Congress’ recognition of a state’s sovereignty over public lands. “The equal footing doctrine is grounded in the idea that new states enter the Union with the same rights as the original states.” Koch v. United States, DOI, Interior Bd. Of Land Appeals, BLM, 47 F.3d 1015, 1018 (10th Cir. 1995) (citations omitted). The courts, however, have limited the equal footing doctrine to apply only to the title of land underlying navigable waters: “The equal footing doctrine simply does not cause land in non-navigable waters to pass from the federal government to the state.” Id. at 1019. See also Texas v. Louisiana, 410 U.S. 702, 713 (1973). Furthermore, the equal footing doctrine requires political, not economic or geographic, equality between the states. United States v. Texas, 339 U.S. 707, 716 (1950). See also Texas v. Louisiana, 410 U.S. at 713.

So, basically according to the Supreme Court if you are not one of the original 13 states the federal government can do what it wishes with the land that it has refused to turn over when the territory became a state. Who would have ever though that the Supreme Court made up of 9  federal employees, nominated by the President confirmed for life by the Senate would ever side with the federal government?

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