Rather than inject personal opinion or support for the proposals outlined in Mr. Levin’s book, I offer a summary of its contents in the hope that you will read it and come to your own conclusions. I hope, very much, that you will then be compelled to take some form of action, for to do nothing at this point in our history, would be sheer folly.
Mark Levin’s Liberty Amendments, a Review
An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Congress
…quotes Madison, from Federalist #48, “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for… but [one] in which the powers be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.
In its original formation, the US congress was split into two very distinct houses, which were intended as checks on one another as well as on the executive branch. Today, congress works together to maintain power rather than fulfilling their duties as representatives of the American people and do little or nothing to obstruct the machinations of an over-reaching executive.
The Senate, originally elected by the state legislatures, was intended to prevent the federal government encroaching on the rights of the states. The House of Representatives, conversely, was meant to directly represent the rights and concerns of the people. Neither was intended to be a lifelong appointment, with relatively high pay and benefits or exemptions above those available to the people they represented. Their offices were intended, rather, as a civic duty to their nation and their fellow man.
The negative impact of our modern, insider culture, is most apparent in the many and convoluted ways in which the congress shuts out all but the most persistent and popular of new-comers to the Capitol. To be fair, and this is discussed in the book as well, this culture is rampant at the state and local levels as well. The incumbents, regardless of party affiliation, work together to keep challengers to their virtual thrones at bay. Term limits would return the power of self-governance to the people by limiting the power of politicians and the incentive to focus on their own gains at the expense of their constituency.
The consent of the governed is the hallmark of a constitutional government.
An Amendment to Restore the Senate
As discussed briefly in the previous section, it is imperative that we repeal the 17th Amendment which allows for the popular election of senators. After generations of progressive efforts to re-define the governmental and societal structure of America, it has become commonplace for the people to refer to our nation as a democracy. In short, democracy is mob rule, and is in no way better than a dictatorship. Our government was set up with checks and balances in an effort to curtail all forms of tyranny, including that of the many over the few. The Reign of Terror is an historical example of the ‘unintended’ outcome of democratic governance that Americans would do well to investigate more closely.
Critics of a republican form of government will disingenuously equate it’s nature to the current manifestation of the Republican party, knowing full well that the term means something else entirely. The terms republic, republican, democracy, and democratic, as used here have vastly different meanings that are no longer common knowledge.
In addition to restoring the Senate to its intended status as a representative of the individual state governments, Levin’s proposed amendment allows the state legislatures to remove a senator by two thirds vote if they fail to uphold their duties as a representative of that state. This allows for a more direct balance of power between the state and federal governments and provides an additional curtail to the power and encroachment of the federal government.
An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for the Supreme Court Justices and Super-Majority Legislative Override
This chapter sets forth the argument for establishing term limits on the Supreme Court. It also allows, in a similar way, for the over-ruling by congress of Supreme Court rulings that deviate into activism and judicial revisionism rather than adherence to the rule of law.
Because the Supreme Court has repeatedly shown an inclination toward societal restructuring and constitutional relativism, this amendment is among the most important proposed in the book. It allows for congress and the state legislatures to maintain checks and balances on the Court, thus curtailing future abuses of power.
The proposal of term limits for the Court, likewise puts checks on the accumulation of power and ability of the justices to legislate through judicial fiat. By indicating the inability of the President to veto a judicial override by the states and/or congress, this amendment eliminates the unhealthy relationship that has developed between the Judicial and Executive branches of our government.
Two Amendments to Limit Federal Spending and Taxing
This chapter is relatively straightforward and requires little explanation. It offers additional restrictions on the power of the federal government as well as solutions to the ills created by the current system of redistribution and subsidy that create the over-grown power structure in DC.
In short, this amendment demands that the federal government set a budget and live within its means. Rather than granting the government the power to declare a single industry too big to fail or to create incentives to favoritism, it scales back the system of lobbying for congressional favor.
Limiting the government’s ability to tax is a crucial step in this process. Whether one agrees with Mr. Levin’s proposal to cap income tax or prefers a national sales tax, it cannot be argued that nothing should be done in this regard. Conversely, the populist rhetoric of soaking the rich has been proven historically as false and detrimental to society as a whole – however much the progressive establishment may disagree.
Finally, rescheduling the deadline for filing income taxes to correspond with federal elections is a good solution to the myopic nature of the American voter. It is less likely that the antics of our celebrity culture or political distractions promoted by the media would obscure from the people who is directly responsible for their personal tax burden if elections directly followed the filing of taxes.
An Amendment to Limit the Federal Bureaucracy
This chapter sets limits on the establishment and longevity of federal departments and appointments, regulations, economic impact of said regulations and length of time allowed for actions setting such limits. It reminds us that the separation of powers doctrine contained with in the Constitution, not only sets limits on the power entrusted in each branch of the government, but also prevents any of those branches from delegating their powers to one another or to agencies or departments not elected directly by the people. This is particularly important in light of the modern expansion of cabinet appointments, government agencies and executive orders issued at the expense of the people without any method of recourse; including, but not limited to the passage of laws that members of government and select groups are themselves exempted from. This degradation of our Constitution illustrates …the necessity and urgency of restoring constitutional republicanism and preserving the civil society from the governing authoritarianism of a federal Leviathan…
An Amendment to Promote Free Enterprise
This Amendment clarifies the original intent behind the Commerce Clause, which has been repeatedly abused by the Legislative and Judicial branches of the government. In addition, it sets clear boundaries for its use and returns the majority of power to the states for defining commerce and regulating any issues that may arise on this subject.
With the Commerce Clause, more than any other, we have seen the greatest erosion of the Constitution through judicial activism and legislative abuses. In short, our own government has made a concerted effort to rewrite the Constitution for their own gain; thus proving the need for the Constitution, Bill of Rights and separation of powers outlined in our nation’s founding.
When the government can go so far as to penalize people for not spending money, under the guise of protecting the common good, we are well down the road to socialism. In other words, the nation has entered into an age of post-constitutional soft tyranny. In closing the chapter, Mr. Levin provides us this quote from Milton Friedman: “Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself… Economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.”
An Amendment to Protect Private Property
This amendment more clearly defines individual property rights and sets clear restrictions on government infringement on those rights. In addition, it defines just compensation in the event that clearly defined public need necessitates transfer of property from an individual to the government. The chapter goes on to define the social compact of a civil society and warn against the evils of redistribution of wealth from one citizen to another by dictate or by direct seizure of property by the government.
An Amendment to Grant the States Authority to Directly Amend the Constitution
This amendment returns state sovereignty to the forefront of our governing process and allows for the states to roll back and prevent further expansion of the federal government. It defends the individual’s rights, allows for the maintenance of a stable and just form of government that protects the rights of all of its citizens, thus preserving society as a whole.
An Amendment to Grant the States Authority to Check Congress
This amendment allows the states to reign in the Congress’ power to grant favors and punish through regulation. In addition, it gives the states the power to end the habit of Congress to legislate social justice, punishing or rewarding certain groups at whim and against the wishes of the American people.
Through clearly defined procedure, this amendment sets forth rules for true transparency in government by establishing open posting of bills for public review in advance of congressional voting to establish new laws. No changes to the bill would be allowed between the time of posting and the final vote, increasing accountability and honesty in our legislative branch. In addition, this amendment sets forth guidelines for state overrule of laws, federal statutes and executive orders with clearly defined procedures and limitations on state, as well as federal power.
An Amendment to Protect the Vote
Simply put, this amendment requires proof of citizenship to vote. In addition, it makes provisions for those unable to afford the cost of acquiring the required documentation and puts strict limits on early voting procedures. These measures do nothing more or less than take measures to insure the sanctity and validity of every vote cast.
There is no point wasting time debating the probable success or failure of the measures defined in the Liberty Amendments. One cannot accomplish a task if one does not start it. There is no point bemoaning the likely difficulty of the task – we are past that. If we seek to restore our nation to its founding principles as a constitutional republic we must stop complaining and offer solutions. As Mr. Levin so succinctly illustrates in the naming of his final chapter, now is The Time for Action.
This review may be criticized as lacking any meaningful criticism or in-depth examination of the book – so be it. I did not write to tout my own historical knowledge or inject my personal opinion on the author’s personal motivations; as some critics may do. I wrote to highlight the importance of the call to action which it contains and the solutions offered to restore our republic. My review is so heavily footnoted, because this book speaks well enough of itself, in its succinctness and historic notation of the ills of the progressive usurpation of American law and governance.
In a world of media enamored of its own self-importance, it is time to focus on the real issues that affect our lives. It is time to offer solutions, not platitudes and petulant complaints. It is time to take action.
*All direct quotes from the book are indicated by italics*
Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and BlogBytes. Her articles have also been published atBig Hollywood . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.