Saturday, 22 February 2014 22:00

Article V Group Ignores States' Complicity in Federal Power Grab

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Of all the misrepresentations often repeated by the pro-Article V constitutional convention proponents, one of the most important is the “states as victims” mantra.

For example, on its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, the Convention of States (COS) organization writes:

"Washington, D.C., is broken. The federal government is spending this country into the ground, seizing power from the states and taking liberty from the people."

Of the four claims made in that statement, three are admitted as true: First, D.C. is broken; second, the federal government is spending us into perpetual poverty; and third, federal officials in all three branches are denying Americans of fundamental liberties they and their ancestors have enjoyed for over a millennium. 

However, the claim that the federal government is “seizing power from the states” cannot be stipulated to without falsely portraying states as victims rather than as accomplices to these crimes against the Constitution.

States, on average, receive one-third of their annual budget from the federal government. According to data collected in 2013, Mississippi receives nearly half of its money from D.C., followed closely by Louisiana and Arizona.

No one would argue against the assertion that governors and state legislators are addicted to the “free” federal money. The problem, however — and somehow the Article V/Convention of States people don’t want to admit it — is that this money isn’t free. As Tad DeHaven of the Cato Institute explained, responding to a report about Indiana’s dependence on federal largesse:

The appeal of federal funds to governors is obvious: They get to spend additional money without having to raise taxes on their voters to pay for it. A problem with this arrangement is that it creates a fiscal illusion — state taxpayers perceive the cost of government to be cheaper than it really is. In effect, the federal money and a large part of the annual budget appears to be “free.” 

But Hoosiers should be mindful that every dollar Washington sends to Indianapolis is a dollar taken from taxpayers in Indiana and the other states. (The return is actually less than a dollar since the federal bureaucracy takes its cut.) The situation is no different when the federal dollars go instead to, say, Sacramento. In addition, economists have found that federal subsidies to the states lead to higher state taxes and spending in the long-run because the federal “seed money” creates a demand for more government. 

More government. That is what happens every time the governor of a state cashes one of those million-dollar checks from Congress. And that is hardly the behavior of a victim. The federal government has not “seized” power from the states; the states have sold their birthright of sovereignty for a mess of federal pottage.

At The New American, we have chronicled for years the co-opting of local police by the Department of Homeland Security. Millions of dollars in grants are given to local law enforcement and in exchange the police hand over control to their federal overlords. In fact, we have reported that the police’s addiction to the arsenal of military-grade weapons and vehicles on offer from DHS is such that many departments have officers whose sole daily duty is to fill out grant applications. Is that the behavior of a victim?

One thing the “Convention of States” supporters must admit, if they are to remain intellectually honest, is that state legislatures have sold their sovereignty, not had it stolen from them. If states wanted to “free” themselves from this situation, they could do so almost immediately by exercising the one and only remedy that is simultaneously legally, historically, and constitutionally sound — nullification.

Curiously, though, COS proponents deny that states possess the power to disregard acts by the federal government that exceed its constitutional authority. This position is made even odder when combined with the fact that the COS plan relies on states to save us from the federal government. If states refuse to throw off the federal yoke through the plain and powerful program of nullification, why should we count on them to suddenly step up and reassert sovereignty in an amendments convention?

In fact, given the irrefutable realities of the economic relationship between federal and state governments, isn't it more likely than not that state delegates elected to attend an Article V convention would fiddle with the Constitution so as to improve their access to the national treasury? 

Would a right-thinking person rely on a crack addict to punish the pushers?

Constitutionalists see through the ruse and recognize the myriad threats to liberty and challenges to logic posed by an Article V convention. The truer course, they understand, is to fill the state legislatures with men and women committed to upholding the constitutional concept of federalism and to refusing to sell sovereignty for any amount of Federal Reserve notes.

These constitutionally minded legislators will be the “bulwark of liberty” the Founders intended them to be and will refuse to acquiesce to any federal program that would make them co-conspirators in the murder of the Constitution and the freedoms it protects.

Let’s take a few steps toward that goal today by, first, admitting that the states are not passive victims of any federal seizure of their power; second, state legislators willingly and consistently sell their citizens’ birthright of sovereignty for a mess of federal pottage; third, every day in state houses across the country, state legislators compete for a preferred place at the federal feeding trough; and finally, nullification is the best and most constitutionally sound method of returning power to the states, as the Founders intended.


Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels nationwide speaking on nullification, the Second Amendment, the surveillance state, and other constitutional issues.  Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Related articles:

Article V: Con-Con or Nothing Is the Cry of This Cause Célèbre

Article V Convention: Dangerous Precedent, Dangerous Loyalties

Convention of States and Article V: Tearing Up the Talking Points

Compact for America Proposal Could Increase Federal Power

Convention of the States: Wrong on History, Nullification

Convention of the States: Scholars Ignore History

Repair vs. Restore: Why Constitution Doesn’t Need Article V Fix

In Defense of Con-Con, Meckler Chooses Ridicule Over Rebuttal

Socialists and Soros Fight for Article V Convention


  • Comment Link GoodBusiness Wednesday, 19 March 2014 11:28 posted by GoodBusiness

    Let me add some ideas how we can use Article V to correct mistakes - like the 14th amendment which killed the power of the 10th amendment, the 16th amendment which provides money so Washington can bribe voting blocks and even State and Local governments, then the 17th which killed the Founders, Framers and Ratifiers design of dual Federalism. The Senate was to be the States Legislatures seat at the Table of the Federal government. So, please visit this very large free Constitutional and American history library.

    No email needed, no donations it is self funded, no ads, no tracking cookies just Patriots trying to engage the people and State Legislatures to stop the usurping of all three branches of the Federal government. Forcing DC back under the LIMITS of Article I, II and III without expansion usurpation of clauses. Free books, audio 5000 year Leap and much more. Great research links.

  • Comment Link Liberty_Clinger Thursday, 27 February 2014 11:24 posted by Liberty_Clinger

    Article V:
    "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states..."

    There is no provision in Article V for the people as a whole to vote on a proposed Constitutional amendment - it is entirely in the hands of the State Legislatures. We the People are ultimately the power behind the Constitution (and therefore our Federal Government) because We the People elect our State Representatives and State Senators.

    "The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government. Modern times have the signal advantage, too, of having discovered the only device by which these rights can be secured, to wit: government by the people, acting not in person, but by representatives chosen by themselves,.." Thomas Jefferson

  • Comment Link Teri Wednesday, 26 February 2014 21:48 posted by Teri

    Something y'all are not understanding: The State Legislatures are NOT the ones to ratify the final amendment that might come from any Convention of States. THE PEOPLE are the ones that will ratify it/them. THE PEOPLE. THE PEOPLE. THE PEOPLE. NOT Congress. NOT State Legislatures. THE PEOPLE.

    That means YOU AND ME.

    THAT is what Article V safeguards. THE PEOPLE.

    And yes, the 16th and 17th amendments destroyed some Constitutional safeguards, along with a couple other amendments. Those can be undone one day people wake up and learn what the Constitution is really about, as opposed to what public school and universities have taught it's supposedly about for the past 120 years.

    Learn the TRUTH about the Convention of States here:

    Learn the TRUTH about the Constitution in a FREE online class here:

  • Comment Link Liberty_Clinger Wednesday, 26 February 2014 21:21 posted by Liberty_Clinger

    The flaw in your and Mr. Wolverton’s thinking is that it is self-contradictory. You distrust the State legislatures because in the past they passed the 16th and 17th amendments which harmed our Constitution (and our unalienable human rights), and in the present because the States accept greater (un-Constitutional) Federal power in return for Federal money, yet at the same time you trust these same State legislatures to defend our Constitution via nullification of un-Constitutional Federal Laws and regulations. Only in an act of Orwellian Doublethink can a person hold two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind at the same time and accept both of them.

    In truth more and more of our State legislatures are seeing the rightness of nullification because un-Constitutional Federal Laws and regulations represent Federal nullification of the Constitution, so State nullification of Federal nullification represents State affirmation of the Constitution. States which affirm our Constitution through nullification can also be trusted to amend our Constitution under Article V as our Founding Fathers intended. The upcoming revolution against Federal tyranny can only be successful via the States acting in unison – both through nullification – and through amendment. The best strategy for preserving our God-given unalienable human rights (life, liberty and the fruit of our labour in creative pursuit of happiness) is to concentrate our efforts at the level of the State legislatures, both in nullification and amendment - to elect Declaration & Constitution loving Americans at the State level. The Federal level is lost - they’ve gone over to the dark side of the force, so our salvation (in political and human rights terms) will come from the States.

    I believe you and Mr. Wolverton are good men - Patriots - we are in the same foxhole together. I only ask you give my line of reasoning some consideration.

  • Comment Link matthew schoech Wednesday, 26 February 2014 12:45 posted by matthew schoech

    No, The U.S. Constitution is not broken. And the last time I checked the 16th and 17th Amendments to the constitution were ratified by the same states that many today want to hold up as our final guard to any deleterious changes that come out of a "constitutional convention." How do you spell foolish? The states of our union are made up of people who have at times chosen unwisely. Expecting miracles from states that have gradually been subdued by big money and are still getting fed at the federal trough, as Wolverton has exposed, is not my idea of rightly clinging to hope or liberty. The moral and civic education of our state legislators and the body politic in general, is the key to a restored republic. The balance of applying a 10th Amendment solution is the rightful remedy and necessary first step. To do otherwise is to merely treat a symptom without treating the cause.

  • Comment Link Liberty_Clinger Tuesday, 25 February 2014 22:21 posted by Liberty_Clinger

    Our Constitution is broken. The 16th amendment has no limit regarding taxation of our incomes (a Marxist feature), and it does not prevent loopholes for the favored few which results in the tyranny of unequal taxation. The 17th amendment is a flagrant reversal (breaking) of the original method for selecting Senators. There is no provision for Congress to overturn an onerous or un-Constitutional Supreme Court decision (as there is for Congress to overturn a Presidential veto). There is no Constitutional prohibition for the unjust fiat creation of money (another Marxist feature) by the central bank (the Federal Reserve Bank). Article I, Section 8 should limit the power of Congress to regulate only disputes of commerce between the states. There are no term limits for Congress or the Supreme Court. Regarding qualification for President of the United States the Constitution does not explicitly define the meaning of "natural born citizen," so it should be spelled out: "Natural born citizen shall mean any person born within one of the states of the United States or upon the territorial waters of the United States, of parents who are both citizens of the United States."

  • Comment Link Nora Tuesday, 25 February 2014 13:02 posted by Nora

    Yes, there are excellent points here but the one controlling factor is that when you give people free rein to represent you by sending them to congress, one in two hundred will do their job. The temptation to perpetuate a bloated and growing government is too strong when the rewards are so great for those elected.
    Until we can remodel our system to remove the money from politics, we are doomed to repeat history. No representative should become rich once sent to protect our interests. It's a game, and we've lost it, folks.
    Messing with the constitution under any circumstance is clearly a mistake. Instead we need to simply ENFORCE it, and kill the central banks that have us in death throws financially. If I was to approve of any type of modification of the constitution, it would be to add an amendment that makes it legal to shoot the international bankers that have destroyed our economy. All we really need to do to save our country is put Wall Street out of business and reinstate Glass-Steagal, which binds the hands of the moneychangers. Don't fix what isn't broke.

  • Comment Link matthew schoech Tuesday, 25 February 2014 12:25 posted by matthew schoech

    Since our constitution is not broken it should not be treated as if it were broken. The COS operates under this false assumption. Finally someone,(thank you Mr. Wolverton) has pointed out a glaringly contradictory position many state legislators are in. They cry about those unfunded mandates but never a sound of a complaint when the Federals give them money (look for the strings) for funded mandates, which are unconstitutional in the first place. The national debt is only important when you can use it as an example of Federal extravagance and waste but never when your state is "on the take". -"More money please thank you Master." The so-called Convention of the States (COS) is not even mentioned in Article V (not to be confused with conventions in the state - a potential ratification process which may or may not include state legislators) The wording in Article V is an apposition sentence structure, noun phrases separated by comas from other noun phrases which refers back to the same referent. In this case - The Congress. States apply, The Congress calls.
    An Article V con-con, at this point in time, has got to be the ultimate in sting operations.

  • Comment Link Liberty_Clinger Monday, 24 February 2014 08:50 posted by Liberty_Clinger

    If some state legislatures can be trusted to nullify un-constitutional federal laws and regulations, then those same state legislatures can be trusted to amend our Constitution under Article V - which was written into the Constitution by our Founding Fathers to prevent or overthrow federal tyranny. Besides, it only takes 13 conservative state legislatures to block a so-called "runaway" convention, so that is not going to happen. On the other hand, it is likely that there will be less than 13 state legislatures standing in the way of an amendment limiting the power of federal government (reduced taxation, abolition of fiat money creation, Congressional and Supreme Court term limits, etc.) in a way our Founding Fathers would approve.

  • Comment Link N.E. Patriot Sunday, 23 February 2014 11:17 posted by N.E. Patriot

    Great insight, Mr. Wolverton! I wonder how many of your readers now will send the link to your article to both their State Assemblyman and State Senator, or print out a copy to snail mail or hand deliver. Knowledge without action is futile! Our State Reps need to hear from us on this issue NOW!

    Also, check out the following link on the subject:

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