The Liberty Amendments Interview: Mark Levin on Returning States' Rights, the Peoples' Rights, a Return to Federalism

Posted by Brian
by JOEL B. POLLAK  12 Aug 2013

Breitbart News: With The Liberty Amendments, you're attempting to launch a movement to amend the Constitution. Do you expect to be successful, and how long would it take?

Levin: What I hope to do, at least in some small way, is begin a discussion among those of us who believe the Republic is unraveling, and find a way to re-establish the Constitution and reclaim our heritage.  When you look at the massive debt and reckless monetary policies of the federal government; the ability of five Supreme Court justices to pervert the Constitution and impose via fiat their personal policy preferences on the whole of society without any recourse; Congress's legislating, through massive bills, outside its enumerated powers and its delegation of unchecked power to a massive and growing bureaucracy, which legislates thousands of times each year by regulatory fiat; and the increasing authoritarianism of presidents who issue executive orders to create their own law and also blatantly rewrite statutes by interpretation and execution (or not) based on whether they agree with them or not; I think this and much more evinces the growing and steady decline of constitutional republicanism. 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. This book is written for those of us who fear what is happening to our nation--the increasing authoritarianism and abuse of the individual--and refuse to accept these events either by pretending they are not serious or as the inevitable decline of a great republic. This has been building for decades, since at least the advent of the Progressive era, and, in my view, requires a resolute, decades'-long effort to reverse course. So, the question arises, what do we do? For those of us who care, my book explores some of the possibilities. And they are provided in the Constitution itself. The Framers knew better than others what it was like to confront actual tyranny. So why wouldn't we look to these greatest men for answers? So, that's what I did. If you look at Article V of the Constitution, it includes, among other things, two processes for amending the Constitution. The first process has resulted in twenty-seven amendments: two-thirds of both Houses of Congress propose an amendment, and three-fourths of the states are required to ratify it. In the second process, which is every bit as legitimate, two-thirds of the states decide to convene a meeting for the purpose of proposing amendments, which are then sent to the states for three-fourths ratification. It is a process that essentially bypasses Congress.  Let me be as clear as I can: this second amendment process provides for a convention of the states to propose amendments, which in turn must be ratified by three-fourths of the states; it does not provide for a Constitutional Convention. Furthermore, because three-fourths of the states must ratify proposed amendments, there would be no "runaway convention" overturning the entire Constitution, as some might fear monger. I fully expect the most vociferous critics of this constitutional process to be among those who support or have contributed to all manner of constitutional evasions and distortions in favor of the increasing centralization and concentration of power, which is precisely what the Constitution was established to prevent. Now, this is something I want to discuss at length on my program, and which I discuss at length in the book.  I believe our strongest weapon is the Constitution, and therefore we should do all we can to reacquaint the American people with their Constitution. This is how we push back against a mindset that insists they surrender so much of their liberty to federal institutions; it is a mindset pounded home each and everyday by self-serving politicians, in academia, by the media, et cetera. Alexis de Tocqueville, and many others, eloquently warned about democracies acquiescing to the gradualism of soft tyranny and its destructiveness on man's nature. The amendment process of which I speak was proposed and enacted by the Framers, who considered it crucial to accomplishing the ratification of the Constitution, for it was specifically established to address the possibility of an oppressive federal government. In particular, George Mason insisted two days before the Constitutional Convention's end that there needed to be a lawful and civil way to address an oppressive federal government, which he believed inevitable, short of violence and revolution. The Convention delegates in Philadelphia agreed. Thus, the Constitution provides that at least two-thirds of the states could ultimately get together, essentially bypassing Congress, and propose amendments to the Constitution which, in turn, all the states would then consider, three-fourths of which would be required to ratify them. This is no easy task. But it is the path the Framers provided in the Constitution to lawfully and civilly address an increasingly oppressive federal government, which ultimately would not control itself. So, we turn to the Constitution to save the Constitution, and restore the Republic. As I write in the book, I admit that this is something that, originally, I was skeptical about. But having now thoroughly studied the intent of the Framers in this regard, it is crystal clear they put this process in place to provide us recourse under the kind of circumstances we find ourselves confronted with today. I need to underscore that this is not some radical or novel idea, although it has been largely ignored. It will be ferociously opposed by the proponents or beneficiaries of an all powerful federal government, or dismissed by those who delude themselves that nothing of this sort can happen in America and, as they will undoubtedly claim, Americans are resilient and we have overcome worse. But it is those who seek to further impose this alien design on our society who are the target of this amendment process. Their objections, albeit self-serving, are understandable. As for the others, let me say it is because Americans are resilient that I believe we are not destined for all eternity to suffer a miserable existence, which is precisely why we must take matters into our own hands by embracing the Constitution. It was President Reagan who famously stated: "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us that we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done." The book is called The Liberty Amendments for a reason. I have proposed eleven amendments for people to think about, not because I am all-knowing and all-powerful, but because they are my suggestions to encourage people to think about or, even better, to become active in reclaiming their heritage through this state convention process. The amendments I propose are not abstractions, but concrete suggestions, based precisely on what I believe, through research and scholarship, the Framers intended for this republic. I discuss each amendment at length in the book, and it is impossible to do them justice in a short interview. But it is worth remembering, whereas the statists promise a utopian paradise that conflicts with our constitutional order as justification for an ever-growing federal government, and many Republicans embrace the status quo, as designed by the statists-- I call them neo-statists--I say let's enthusiastically embrace the Constitution rather than fear it. Let's be positive about it. It offers us liberty, opportunity, security. These amendments are all aimed at reclaiming our founding principles by unraveling the federal Leviathan and reducing the excessive and growing power of the ruling class. Do I think this is doable, and how quickly? Absolutely, or I wouldn't have written the book.The Framers thought so, because otherwise they wouldn't have bothered including this process in the Constitution. Will it happen tomorrow? Absolutely not. But I dare say that at some point it will. Because the situation in this country will reach a point, with lost liberties and economic dislocation, that I believe the people will look for a legitimate and non-violent means by which to save themselves. The nation's demise is not inevitable, unless we do nothing. We can prevent this, if we, the people, have the desire and motivation to do so. People want to know how we can do it. And the only way I can think of--I'm open to others--is by turning to the Constitution and the recourse the Framers left us. One other point. Look at the statists. They play for keeps, and they are resolute. They never surrender, and they are never done with their social engineering and societal experiments. For example, for a century they have pushed national health care. They finally achieved it with Obamacare. Yet, Obamacare is just a start. It is a platform from which they intend to pursue endless lifestyle calibrations. The individual will be tormented and coerced endlessly. We conservatives, on the other hand, get impatient. We are too quick to abandon the battlefield. We must be as resolute, as defiant, as ambitious for liberty and constitutionalism as the statist is for the opposite. As I said earlier, there is an American spirit, and we must rekindle it and spread it. We need not accept this, we must not. We have children and grandchildren to think about; we must think about future generations, and not just the next two or three. We must encourage people to engage in the Constitution in the way that our Founders intended.
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