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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USDA Turning Taxpayer Money into Wine

Today’s example of how the federal government has become too darn big is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value-Added Marketing Grant program. This (relatively) little slice of corporate welfare will hand out approximately $56 million in taxpayer dollars this year to “producers of agricultural commodities” who can use the money “for planning activities and for…

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Eight and Counting: Cherokee County Rejects NDAA

In recent days, resistance to federal kidnapping powers in the 2012 NDAA (specifically sections 1021 and 1022 of the Act) has been catching on like wildfire. Virginia’s House of Delegates is in a heated battle over a bill to refuse compliance with the Act. And just yesterday, the Arizona Senate passed a similar bill by a wide margin. Other states are considering similar laws and resolutions as well. And, sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center tell us to expect a minimum of ten other states doing the same in the short term.

But it’s not just states that are taking action against what some are calling the new “intolerable acts.” Local communities are standing up to say NO as well. Towns, cities and counties around the country are being presented with model legislation that they can use to consider a resolution or a binding ordinance and in quick time – a number has already voiced their approval of such action.

The most recent? Cherokee County, Kansas, which unanimously passed a resolution opposing the NDAA on Monday. Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand, who proposed the measure, said there was little discussion needed before the vote to approve the resolution.

The resolution states it is unlawful for the military to conduct investigations or detainments in Cherokee County or for local authorities to cooperate with military investigations – and provides for fines and/or jail time for violating the resolution

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Number of States Resisting Federal Drug Policy Could Increase Significantly

The push to resist Federal Drug policy is advancing once again this legislative session with a number of bills and a number of different approaches being taken at the state level.  There are currently 17 states with cannabis legislation this session, despite a new Federal crackdown on cannabis operations in California that were within State and local law.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are now considering a new attempt to address the issue of marijuana, knowing full well that their Governor is not likely to sign anything along those lines.  As Governor Corbett has stated before, he believes that the Supreme Court is the ultimate authority of law and that states cannot freely exercise their power under the constitution until the SCOTUS gives them permission. he’s joined in that view by state Rep. John Lawrence, R-13th of Franklin who said, “I’m not a supporter of the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. This is an issue that should be dealt with at the federal level.”

In Massachusetts, a group of lawmakers led by Representative Ellen Story of Amherst are seeking to establish state level cannabis laws.  The driving force behind “The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act” was a Public Policy Question in the 2010 elections, which clearly instructed Story and others to take this issue on.  This bill will go before the Judiciary Committee March 6th at 1:00, in a Legalization hearing at the statehouse, room A-2.  Anyone is free to attend and address the committee- a prime chance for even those who don’t support marijuana use to explain why in order to be in line with the constitution, cannabis must be addressed at the state rather than Federal level.

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Arizona Senate to Feds: “Indefinite Detention” is not Welcome Here!

PHOENIX (March 5, 2012) – Efforts to block NDAA detention without due process got a big boost in Arizona.

On March 1, the Arizona senate passed SB1182 by a 21-9 margin.

The bill would prohibit any agency of the state from providing material support for or from participating in any way with the implementation of sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, Public Law 112‑81, against any citizen of the United States.

The Senate followed up Monday passing SCR1011, a resolution that declares:

That the Members of the Legislature condemn sections 1021 and 1022 of the 2012 NDAA as they purport to repeal posse comitatus and authorize the President of the United States to use the armed forces of the United States to police American citizens, to indefinitely detain persons captured within the United States without charge until the end of hostilities as purportedly authorized by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, to subject persons captured within the United States to military tribunals, and to transfer persons captured within the United States to a foreign country or foreign entity.

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Is the Virginia Victory on NDAA Vaporizing?

ATTENTION VIRGINIANS

Can the various states make enforcement of National Defense Authorization Act’s (NDAA) indefinite detention provisions (kidnapping!) a bit more difficult for the federal government? Can they, on behalf of their citizens, withdraw consent from a blatantly unconstitutional law that kidnaps persons and denies them due process of law?

Last week, once again, DC Downsizers joined in an effort to partially nullify that law. The bill, introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall, HAD ALREADY PASSED THE VIRGINIA HOUSE.

Your calls and emails to State Senators tipped the scales, from a 20-20 vote, to a veto-proof 39-1 vote for a slightly amended version the next day. But because the bill was amended, it had to go back to the House.

Now, Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va) is getting involved. He’s insinuating, through Delegate Barbara Comstock, that some forms of federal cooperation will evaporate.

And Ms. Comstock is also arguing that, even though she and her colleagues have sworn an oath to the Constitution, this is a federal problem, and none of their concern.

And here’s my favorite part! Some members are bothered that many of the people calling and writing are using the word “nullification.”

We’ve been told it’s a turn-off. Really?

Imagine that. Scared of a little word. There are two things to point out here.

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Powerful Forces Working to Kill Anti-NDAA Bill in Virginia House

RICHMOND, Va. (March5, 2012) – Efforts to block federal kidnapping in Virginia could be in trouble.

For the third day, the Virginia House of Delegates failed to vote on an amended version of HB1160.

The bill would prohibit any state cooperation with federal agents attempting to unlawfully detain a U.S. citizen under provisions in sections 1021 or 1022 of the NDAA. The House passed its version 96-4 back on Feb 14. Then the Senate overwhelmingly approved an amended version last week by a 38-1 vote. That sent the legislation back to the House for final approval. But U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Gov. Bob McDonnell have reportedly gotten involved behind the scenes, seeking to block final passage. Delegate Barbara Comstock (R-McClean) asserts passage could create “security risks” and has reportedly insinuated passage could result in a withdrawal of “federal cooperation” in the state.

Comstock was one of only four delegates to initially oppose the bill.

Delegate Bob Marshall sponsors the legislation. He had strong words for those seeking to block the bill.

“I am disappointed the House of Delegates for the third time has refused to go on record on HB1160,” he said. “If this bill dies without a record vote, I will conclude you agree that the word of habeas corpus can be suspended by Congress despite their not following the procedure provided in article 1 section 9, and that American citizens in Virginia may be taken off our streets with mere suspicion, no trial, no counsel, no charges, no public record for the indefinite duration of hostilities.”

Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said it was imperative that the House of Delegates get the bill passed, not just for the sake of Virginia citizens, but also to generate momentum across the country.

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