Mark Levin’s new book, The Liberty Amendments: Restoring The American Republic is out, and it proposes an ambitious set of Amendments to the Constitution:
I undertook this project not because I believe the Constitution, as originally structured, is outdated and outmoded, thereby requiring modernization through amendments, but because of the opposite — that is, the necessity and urgency of restoring constitutional republicanism and preserving the civil society from the growing authoritarianism of a federal Leviathon. This is not doomsaying or fearmongering but an acknowledgment of facgt. The Statists have been successful in their century-long march to disfigure and mangle the constitutional order and undo the social compact.
So starts the book. Which then goes on to analyze where the country has gone wrong constitutionally and to propose the following constitutional remedies:
- An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Members of Congress
- An Amendment to Restore the Senate
- An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices and Super-Majority Legislative Override
- Two Amendments to Limit Federal Spending and Taxing
- An Amendment to Limit the Federal Bureaucracy
- An Amendment to Promote Free Enterprise
- An Amendment to Protect Private Property
- An Amendment to Grant the States the Authority to Directly Amend the Constitution
- An Amendment to Grant the States the Authority to Check Congress
- An Amendment to Protect the Vote
I’m not going to go through each of these proposals. For that, buy the book (!) or if you want a synopsis, see Jeffrey Lord’s review at The American Spectator. Joel Pollak also has a review at Breitbart.com as well as a detailed interview.
Rather, I’ll try to put it in context. (I guess I gave it away in the post Title.)
As I was pondering how to write up this review, I saw a lot of Twitter chatter about an article by Stephen Moore at The Wall Street Journal, The Budget Sequester Is a Success:
The biggest underreported story out of Washington this year is that the federal budget is shrinking and much more than anyone in either party expected….
This reversal from the spending binge in 2009 and 2010 began with the debt-ceiling agreement between Mr. Obama and House Speaker John Boehner in 2011. The agreement set $2 trillion in tight caps on spending over a decade and created this year’s budget sequester, which will save more than $50 billion in fiscal 2013.
As long as Republicans don’t foolishly undo this amazing progress by agreeing to Mr. Obama’s demands for a “balanced approach” to the 2014 budget in exchange for calling off the sequester, additional expenditure cuts will continue automatically. Those cuts are built into the current budget law.
In other words, Mr. Obama has inadvertently chained himself to fiscal restraints that could flatten federal spending for the rest of his presidency.
The sense I get from reading the entirety of Levin’s Amendments is that they effectively are constitutional sequesters meant to restrain the runaway extra-constitutional expansion of the federal government without deferring to human nature. Fundamentally, the proposed amendments are a firm check on the well-documented inclination of those with federal power to expand federal power.
The Constitution enumerates the powers of the federal government. But, as Levin documents in his book, that enumeration has been largely eviscerated by politicians and judges who are beyond reach. So Levin proposes constitutionally imposed term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court. Politicians have a strong incentive to spend other people’s money to buy votes which corrupts the entire process, so Levin proposes Spending and Taxation limits. The other amendments address similar problems.
As Levin states in his interview with Pollak linked above (emphasis mine):
And I’ve concluded that Washington is incapable of reforming itself, which should seem fairly obvious. After all, it has designed the federal Leviathan, which is getting bigger and more aggressive. And I was thinking: What has this federal government become? It is not a constitutional, federal, or representative republic, as our Framers understood those institutions. I believe the federal government is increasingly operating outside the Constitution and that we are in a post-constitutional period. This is how justices, presidents, and members of Congress are able to concoct and then impose such monstrous laws as Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, among thousands of other laws and rules every year, on an unwitting population.
I’d have to think through the “what ifs” of some of these proposals, such as repealing the 17th Amendment. Considering that the unions control the legislature in my formerly home State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, I’m not sure empowering the state legislature to appoint Senators is an improvement.
I view these proposals less as a set of likely constitutional amendments, given the difficulty of the process, and more as a set of principles by which we must insist our elected representatives live.
A good use for the book would be to bring it to Town Hall meetings this summer and get your Representative — Republican or Democrat — to commit to where he or she stands on these principles.
Just hold up the book as you start to ask your question, and watch the faces of the politicians grimace, because they know what’s coming.