Initiatives v Oligarchy

Our Founders' Warning: “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” (Thomas Jefferson)

Why Must State Legislatures Support this Amendment?

State rights and State Constitutions support the people's state right to alter the U.S. Constitution for an Article V Initiatives Amendment
State Rights and Constitutions

State Legislatures Should Support Amendment

State Legislatures should support Amendment in their own best interests, those of their People, the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), and to protect their State Rights, as shown in other sections the Initiatives Amendment and associated documents. They lead to the following conclusions:

  1. The U.S. Congress tolerates critical Problems that seriously harm the People of this State. Excessive influences by special interests are dysfunctional and the primary cause of the Problems. Moreover, Congress exacerbates two major violations of the Constitution.
  2. The only effective Solution is oversight by nationwide Citizens’ Initiatives. The People can trust only themselves to correct these Problems. Any lesser solution will ultimately fail because all appointed and elected officials are subject to great wealth’s Plutocratic corruption.
  3. A Constitutional Amendment is the only way to implement the Solution. There is no expectation that Congress can act against its members’ personal benefits and propose the Amendment by the first method. As planned by the Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution, the People must place their faith in their State Legislatures to use the second method of proposing Amendments. The States are the People’s last bastion in defense of the Peoples’ liberty.
  4. If the State Legislatures fail and the People cannot fulfill their right and duty to alter their Government, the People’s only Constitutional remedy is the People’s right and duty to abolish their Government and institute new Government. The Constitution’s 2nd Amendment prepared them for this eventuality with the right of the People to keep and bear Arms. State Legislatures would be disastrously delinquent if they permit this to happen or even to procrastinate. Plutocracies, aristocracies, and dictators throughout recorded history all fear a People’s rebellion.

If the reader believes that the preceding sections are essentially correct, the next step is to determine if the second method is feasible as intended by the Constitution. The major question is will enough State Legislatures support the Amendment?

The States should find their constitutional obligations and their benefits to be compelling reasons to support the Plan. Polls show the People’s support by a large majority.

The current Problems have many components. However, to focus on constitutional issues, two problems are clear violations of the U.S. Constitution: Congress denies the People’s constitutional rights that Government must promote the general welfare (original meaning: well-being, health, happiness, prosperity) of the People and Congress denies the People their constitutional right to choose their congressional representatives. Both issues are clearly dysfunctional: they are contrary to the Constitution’s intended functions of Congress.

The discussion below addresses key issues of state support.

U.S. Constitution Requires State Legislatures’ Support

The Founding Fathers anticipated the nature of our current Problems and provided Article Vs second method of amending the U.S. Constitution to solve them. This is discussed in the FAQ What Is the 2nd Method of Calling an Article V Convention?

State Constitutions Also Require Legislatures’ Support

Each of the 50 State Constitutions is unique and reflects its special character. However, they have common ideals and themes. From these, this Plan can confirm that it complies with state constitutions and can derive a view of the amount of support mandated by the state constitutions.

The place to start is in each state’s bill or declaration of rights, where the constitutions set forth the basic relationships between the people and the government. This Plan assembles relevant extracts from each state’s constitution in a reference web page for the reader’s convenience. The page contains hyperlinks to the source constitutional texts of each state and some key issues are color-coded. The following table summarizes and totals the information on the reference page:

People’s State Rights for Each State and Collectively

Right Typical Explicit Statements Number States
Political Power Almost all state constitutions declare that the people’s authority is paramount. (Exceptions appear to be CA, GA, MA, NY, RI, and VT.)  E.g.,
1. All political power is inherent in the people…
2. All government, of right, originates from the people…
3. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed…
Right to Pursuit of Happiness Almost all state constitutions include words to the effect that all men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (Exceptions appear to be HI, NY, SC, and WA.) 46
Right of Suffrage All state constitutions include words guaranteeing the free exercise of the right of suffrage. 50
Constitutional Amendment In total, 39 states have affirmed the people’s right to alter government and/or make state constitutional amendments:
1. Eight state constitutions explicitly recognize the people’s right to alter their form of government and also have state constitutional Initiatives (CO, MA, NV, ND, OH, OK, OR, and SD).
2. Ten additional states have state constitutional Initiatives (AZ, AR, CA, FL, IL, MI, MS, MO, MT, and NE).
3. 21 additional states explicitly recognize the people’s right to alter their form of government (AL, CT, DE, ID, IN, IA, KY, ME, MD, MN, NJ, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, and WY).
All Rightful Governments Two-thirds of the States base their definition of just or rightful government on the general case of all governments—i.e., it also defines rightful federal government. (Exceptions appear to be CA, FL, GA, ID, IA, MA, MI, MN, NV, NJ, NY, ND, OH, OK, SC, and WV.) The use of the plural or general case is significant, e.g.,
1. All government, of right, originates from the people…
2. All free governments…
3. Governments are instituted…
  1. Protection of the People’s State Rights
    A covenant exists in each state between the people’s consent to the States’ political power and the state’s guarantees to protect the people’s rights. This is a proper contract since the people have transferred many of their rights to the state. Therefore, each state has an absolute obligation to protect its people’s rights.
  2. Federal Violation of the People’s State Rights
    The States proclaim that their people have the right to pursue happiness. On the other hand, Congress places special interests ahead of the People’s interests. Thus, Congress denies the People’s constitutional right that Government must promote the general welfare (i.e., well-being, happiness, prosperity) of the People. This is a violation of the people’s state rights—rights that the state is obliged to protect.
    In addition, every state affirms the people’s right to choose their representatives. This right is nowhere limited to state candidates and therefore includes congressional candidates. However, special interest groups pre-select the slate of congressional candidates for whom the People may vote. Special interests ensure that voters elect their candidates by means of their massive campaign financing and their consolidated media industry. Congress disregards the issue and permits it to continue. Thus, Congress denies the People their state constitutional right to choose their congressional representatives, thereby violating the people’s state rights—rights that the state is obliged to protect.
    Additionally, the People have implied rights to good governance. Congress has demonstrated an unacceptable and deteriorating standard of governance by it shortsightedness and its favor to special interests. Congress has institutionalized these problems and cannot solve them. However, when states have the power, they take appropriate action to correct federal malfeasance and deficiencies. Thus, the Solution described in this Plan is a proper U.S. Constitutional response by the States to correct these violations of the people’s state rights.
  3. State Right to Alter Government by Constitutional Amendment
    The states recognize that the people have a right to alter their government. Every state except Delaware requires voter approval by referendum for constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature. In 24 states, a power reserved by the people is the initiative. Moreover, in 16 initiative states (AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, IL, MI, MO, MT, NE, NV, ND, OH, OK, OR and SD) the people may enact constitutional amendments by direct initiative and in two states (MA and MS) by indirect initiative. In these initiative States, their state’s political philosophy gives Legislators’ an even more compelling obligation to support this planned Amendment. The States recognition of the People’s right of direct democracy impels them to carry the philosophy to the federal level, where the federal constitution’s earlier date made the concept premature. However, the U.S. Constitution, which the Founding Fathers wrote and the States ratified in the name of the people, does not provide the people with a method to alter their federal constitution. Nevertheless, it provides the second method, by which the states can amend the Constitution. In over 200 years and over 500 applications, the second method has never produced an Article V Convention. Though had not the Congress preemptively proposed the desired amendments, the second method may well have led to an Article V Convention. Consequently, since the second method is the only constitutional option available to the States and their people, it is the process used in this Plan to remedy the U.S. Congress’s violations of state rights.
  4. State and Federal Governments
    Opponents may argue that the States alone, not their people, have the U.S. Constitutional right to alter the U.S. Constitution. However, 34 of the States base their definition of just or rightful government on the general case of all governments. Consequently, their judgment is that all rightful governments—state and federal—derive their power from the consent of the people. More importantly, the Declaration of Independence is the source of the state constitutions’ wording “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it“. Since the Declaration precedes and underpins the U.S. Constitution, its words are decisive. The States’ peoples through their states have the state right to alter the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, the affirmative 1983 decision by Washington State confirms that the People can apply for an Article V Convention by using state initiatives or referenda (Mullen v Howell 1919). A state application for a Convention is a state function not a federal function. However, decisions by the States of Maine and Oregon indicate the opposite (Maine Opinion 1919, Herbring v Brown 1919). It follows that the planned use of state referenda and initiatives to apply for an Article V Convention to propose a Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment may perhaps be constitutional, but an early Supreme Court confirmation that this conclusion is without defect will be prudent. Moreover, in the federal Supreme Court decision most relevant to the issue (Hawke v Smith 1919), it ruled that referenda could not ratify a Federal Constitutional Amendment. Thus, until the Supreme Court rules, each legislature should support referenda and initiatives to call for an Article V Convention, but must always back them with similar but separate state legislative bills. Note that the contents of state referenda and initiatives will bind neither persons who attend the Convention and propose the final version of the Amendment nor the States during ratification, since these are federal functions. Note also that no state should enter into an agreement or compact with another state in violation of Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3.
  5. Legislators’ Responsibility
    State legislators have taken oaths to uphold their State Constitution. Legislators take these oaths seriously. They cannot ignore congressional violations of their people’s state rights and cannot fail to provide feasible remedy. Many state constitutions include phrases such as “provided, such change be not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States” and “but that the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all”. The Plan addresses these constraints by following precisely the words and the most authoritative meaning of the U.S. Constitution and the state constitutions. Therefore, each state has an obligation to protect its people’s rights and to take action to remedy the federal government’s violations of its people’s rights. In accordance with their state constitutions, each state has the state constitutional right, power, and duty to use the second method to solve the Problems—by means of this planned Solution or its equal.