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March 28, 2013

SMITH: Advancing a state initiative to fight federal overreach

You may have heard that the Indiana Senate has passed a resolution calling for a convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain exactly what this entails and why I believe it is a worthwhile course of action to curb the unrelenting overreach of our federal government.

When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they feared — above all else — an over-powerful centralized government not accountable to the people it serves. Because of this, our Constitution is framed entirely around a concept called federalism, meaning shared power between the states and the national authority.

This crucial balance of power is safeguarded throughout the Constitution in multiple ways — the most important of which is the 10th Amendment. It reserves to states any and all powers not expressly assigned to our limited federal government.

Unfortunately, over time, our federal government has abused those limited powers at the expense of the states, warping the original intent of the Founding Fathers and rendering the 10th Amendment almost meaningless. We now have a federal government that taxes and regulates just about every aspect of our lives, meddles in entire sectors of the economy and has accumulated more than $16 trillion in debt that will be passed on to our children and our children’s children.

Foreseeing this kind of abusive federal expansion, the Founders gave the states a constitutional tool to reassert their rights if and when it became necessary. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the states hold the power to amend the Constitution via a convention that is called by two-thirds of states.

Alexander Hamilton, who helped shape this protection, said such a convention would allow state legislatures to “erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.” This is the idea that motivated the Indiana Senate earlier this year to call for such a convention.

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