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Constitutional Amendment proposal to streamline legislative repeals to hit Congress soon

December 7, 2010
In The News
By Matthew Boyle - The Daily Caller
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Conservatives are planning to propose an amendment to the Constitution at some time in the next few weeks aimed at allowing states to repeal legislation without the approval of Washington.

The proposal, dubbed the "Repeal Amendment," if approved and ratified, would be only the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution in more than 220 years, out of only 33 amendments approved by Congress for ratification. More than 10,000 amendments have been proposed to Congress since the Constitution itself was ratified, but barely any actually hit the floor for a vote.

The Repeal Amendment calls for allowing states to band together to repeal, or overturn, federal legislation. As it is written now, if approved and ratified, two-thirds of states' legislatures would need to vote in favor of a repeal.

The proposed amendment reads: "Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."

According to The Repeal Amendment, a nonprofit pushing the idea forward, those in favor of the Constitutional change at the federal level include House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Congressman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, while many more state-level government officials are on board.

Cantor says he's behind it because it will limit the power of the federal government.

"It's time to return America to the common sense conservative principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual responsibility. The Repeal Amendment would provide a check on the ever-expanding federal government, protect against Congressional overreach, and get the government working for the people again, not the other way around," Cantor said in a statement. "In order to return America to opportunity, responsibility, and success, we must reverse course and the Repeal Amendment is a step in that direction."

Marianne Moran, a spokesperson for The Repeal Amendment, told The Daily Caller she expects the amendment to make it through and get approved in the 112th Congress.

Even so, Bishop said he plans to introduce the proposed constitutional amendment during the lame-duck session to see where everybody stands on it. He said he doesn't plan to seek out many co-sponsors, either, because "that will comes as time goes on."

"Overall, the Constitution was written with the idea of providing some kind of balance. Between the states and the federal government, there's a vertical balance and, with the three branches of the federal government, there's a horizontal balance," Bishop told TheDC. "To me, it's not about power. It's about balance."

Bishop envisions the Repeal Amendment as an option, not a mandate, for states that are dissatisfied with any particular policy the federal government has enacted. He said the goal of the Repeal Amendment would be to add another check to the system of checks and balances in the government.

Moran said the measure isn't political, but her organization and the movement for the amendment to the constitution won't turn away the Tea Party's motivation. She said the message of the Repeal Amendment is similar, if not the same, in that both movements are calling for limited government and checked, balanced power.

"The language of the proposal is very clear," Moran said in a phone interview. "It's not specific to healthcare, and you need two-thirds of the states to approve that a resolution would be repealed. So, whatever would be repealed would have to have a large majority of the American people on board."

Cantor cites national discontent with several facets of the Obama administration as his reasoning for support for such an amendment, though.

"In just the past few years, Washington has assumed more control over our economy and the private sector through excessive regulations and unprecedented mandates. Our liberty and freedom has lessened as the size and scope of the federal government has exploded," Cantor said. "Massive expenditures like the stimulus, unconstitutional mandates like the takeover of health care, and intrusions into the private sector like the auto-bailouts have threatened the very core of the American free market."