Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) called for a new constitutional convention in order to pass nine amendments to the Constitution. A constitutional convention is largely unprecedented and carries great risk. The Founding Fathers used a convention to amend the original Articles of the Confederation, but then decided to ditch the Articles and worked up the Constitution. Governor Abbott says the nine amendments would limit the federal government and shift power back to the states.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has called for a convention on the campaign trail and in an op-ed for USA Today. However, Abbott’s plan is much more detailed than any of Rubio’s proposals.
Abbott has deemed his plan the “Texas Plan.” Other constitutional proposals, such as the Conneticut Plan, were named after the state the delegate was representing. Abbott laid out his full proposals in a roughly ninety page report.
The nine amendments are:
I. Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State.
II. Require Congress to balance its budget.
III. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from creating federal law.
IV. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from preempting state law.
V. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
VI. Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
VII. Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
VIII. Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
IX. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation.
The proposals emphasize states’ rights and altered form of compact theory. Advocates of compact theory see the Constitution and the federal government as a contract between states. In the past, advocates have cited compact theory for allowing states to ignore federal laws. However, this was mainly during the early years under the Constitution, such as the John Adams Administration. Abbott also seemingly ignores the Elastic Clause of the Constitution which allows the federal government to expand its power to pass laws seen as “necessary and proper.” However, it does align with the Tenth Amendment which states that powers not explicitly granted to the federal government are given to the states.
Abbott has not endorsed any candidate in the presidential race, although he is close to fellow Texan Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).