The framers of the American Constitution designed our Republic with the intention that the judicial branch would be the weakest of the three branches of government. According to Hamilton’s words in Federalist 78, the judiciary would have “no influence over either the sword or the purse” and would exercise “neither force nor will.”
This principle indeed would be indeed be true if the courts rendered judgments strictly according to the intentions of those who enacted the law.
Increasingly over the past 100 years of our history, the courts, including the highest court in the land, have shown themselves more than ready to exercise their will by imposing interpretations of the Constitution that are far from the intentions of the framers.
Through judicial activism, a handful of unelected judges on Supreme Court have, in effect, amended the Constitution without any ratification by the American people, changing the meaning of our most fundamental document in diverse areas ranging from the enumerated powers to the definition of marriage and human life itself.
What can be done?
Many Americans are unaware that the framers of the Constitution have put within the hands of the people the ability to correct this overreach. This power is found in a little-known clause in Article V of the Constitution.
Article V allows the people, acting through the states, to hold a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. This capability is especially essential to address power abuses at the federal level that Congress will never address through amendments of its own.
This mechanism requires two-thirds of the states—34 states—to pass a resolution in their legislatures to call for the amending convention. Amendments officially proposed at the convention must be ratified by three-fourths of the states, as all amendments must.
What are some constitutional amendments that could be proposed to correct the problem of judicial activism? Here are ideas that have been suggested:
- Enact term limits for justices. The framers did not imagine terms of 30 years for Supreme Court justices that have become common as of the late 20th century. And history shows that the longer justices serve on the Court, the greater the inclination of even “conservatives” to drift from originalism and begin to display activist impulses. Term limits could help correct this tendency.
- Require originalist interpretation. Judicial activism would be severely curtailed by an amendment requiring the Constitution to be interpreted according to its original meaning.
- Create super-majority requirements. An amendment requiring a super-majority of justices to concur on decisions that affect fundamental issues, such as those described in the Bill of Rights, would avoid extreme and controversial rulings.
- Provide legislative overrides. Judicial abuse could be balanced by allowing a super-majority of state legislatures to invalidate decisions that are seen to be abusive or overreaching.
- Balance the make-up of the Court. Today almost all Supreme Court justices are drawn from a narrow pool of judges with relatively uniform education and philosophy. A system requiring justices to be tapped from all the states in the Union would more accurately reflect the perspective and will of the American people.
The movement is underway
The Convention of States effort is a truly grassroots movement aimed at calling a convention using Article V to rein in the overreach of the federal government. Specifically, our application allows for amendments that:
- create term limits for federal officers—including judges as well as Congress;
- impose fiscal restraints, such as a balanced budget; and
- limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.
Supporters abound in every state and teams of patriot activists are rising up to bring this resolution before their state legislatures. As of January 2020, fifteen of the necessary 34 states have passed the application.
Once the convention is called, amendments such as those listed above can be debated, with the best ideas proposed to the states for ratification and incorporation into our Constitution.
Add your voice
It is increasingly clear that Congress has no interest in using their authority to correct the contortions of the Constitution that have been imposed through misinterpretations of the Supreme Court. But thanks to the foresight of the founding fathers and the power they granted us through Article V, We the People do not have to acquiesce to the tyranny of a black-robed oligarchy.
Join the movement to the return the power of the government to the American people! Become a volunteer with Convention of States!
Photo: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States [Public domain]