Michael Farris recently spoke at a gathering of We the People of Jefferson County
HARPERS FERRY – A conservative activist, who spoke earlier this month at a gathering of We the People of Jefferson County, said West Virginia is especially important to a strategy he has developed to pass a host of constitutional amendments to radically reduce the roll of the federal government.
Michael Farris, a former candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia, and founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, said his group’s aim is to convince state legislatures to call a convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution, entirely circumventing the federal government.
Farris said his project, called Convention of States, intends to get 34 state legislatures to pass legislation petitioning for a convention to propose a host of constitutional amendments, a procedure described in Article V of the Constitution that has been tried several times but never successfully implemented.
“We’ll never have this problem solved as long as we depend on Washington D.C. to lead us. You can’t trust the Supreme Court. You can’t trust either house of Congress. You can’t trust the White House,” said Farris, who is widely credited with blocking Senate ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which he argued could curtail home schooling rights.
He said the current political environment makes passing amendments through the state-centered process more likely than using a federal process.
“We’re in an era where the American distrust of Washington D.C. is at an all-time high,” he said. “We have assets in the states. In the states we can do things that we can’t do in Washington D.C. We’ve got political power and the political power is yielded with a simple majority vote … It is so much easier, conceptually, to get a simple majority in 34 state legislatures than it is to get a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress.”
“In 27 states, both houses are controlled by Republicans. In five states … the Republicans control one house, the Democrats control the other,” Farris said. “We have recruited state grassroots leaders. We have recruited state legislators as prime sponsors. We have prime sponsors now in 12 states for the session starting in January. We’re trying to get to 20 states by January.”
He said West Virginia played an especially important role in this plan.
“… there are two states, including West Virginia, that are controlled by Democrats but culturally are very conservative states, and we think we’ve got a real shot,” he said, adding that Nevada was the other state.
“I’ll just build a grassroots organization in all the states I need to win,” he said.
Farris said key amendments relevant to the convention would be a balanced budget amendment and making all federal social safety net programs unconstitutional. He said rolling back the reinterpretation of the Commerce Clause, which provides the legal basis for most federal actions, would also be a key proposal.
“One hundred percent of entitlement spending will be unconstitutional once we fix the General Welfare Clause. One hundred percent of the federal regulation on coal would be unconstitutional. The EPA is one hundred percent unconstitutional, and that is where we are headed,” he said. “It is my view that 100 percent of all federal regulations are unconstitutional.”
Farris also advocates radically changing the makeup of the Supreme Court, which he characterized as a group of “tyrants,” saying that they were exercising power reserved for Congress by interpreting in ways other than the framers had intended, citing the Roe v. Wade decision as an example. He said he advocates an amendment that would change the Supreme Court into a 50-person court composed of a judge appointed by each state.
Under the plan he laid out to tea party members, Farris said each state would be given one vote on whether to recommend amendments. Thirty-eight state legislatures would then be needed to adopt the amendments.
Farris said that neither the national Democratic nor Republican parties, whom he referred to respectively as the “evil party” and the “stupid party,” could be counted on to push these changes at the federal level.
“The government in Washington will never curtail its own power,” he said. “I’m gonna change the venue where the argument takes place.”
Conservative activist Mike Farris says the official U.S. debt is much higher than official estimates. For a different point of view, read the Spirit’s conversation with economist Dean Baker.