Randy Barnett takes to the Wall Street Journal‘s op-ed page to argue for a “federalism amendment” to the Constitution. A noble idea, but it seems that the only component that would have any teeth is the repeal of the 16th Amendment. As the Restoring the Lost Constitution author well knows, the elected branches of the federal government already ignore the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. The political class mostly rejects the doctrine of enumerated powers, reducing the Constitution to a set of procedural constraints like Robert’s Rules of Order.
The other problem is that state governments are just as apt to beg for federal money as they are to assert their constitutional prerogatives against an overweening federal government. So I’d be skeptical that a constitutional convention would produce anything so bold as a 16th Amendment repeal or direct prohibition on Congress regulating an activity that takes place wholly within a single state, except in cases of war, treason, or insurrection.
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