Federalism Amendment

Randy Barnett, professor of law at Georgetown, has an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal today. A Federalism Amendment, spurred by threat of constitutional convention by the States, would rightly restore the balance of power between the States and the federal government, he argues.

The most important proposal to reel in federal power, he says, would be a repeal of the 16th Amendment, which permitted the imposition of a federal income tax–a tax which has spurred virtually unlimited federal intervention into every area of society.

His other ideas include:

A provision allowing for Congressional intervention into activity between states, rendering continued distortion of the Commerce Clause fruitless;

The clarification of the Commerce Clause by expressly prohibiting Congressional interference into intrastate actions, thus allowing States to once again become laboratories for innovation;

An explicit limitation of the Taxing and Spending Clause to powers otherwise enumerated in the Constitution as being possessed by Congress; and

A clear and unambiguous statement of originalism as the proper means for constitutional interpretation.

Barnett’s proposal is likely a pipe dream, but given the success and efficacy of the tea parties and passage of (relatively meaningless) resolutions reaffirming the 10th Amendment in 20+ states, there is a new-found substantial groundswell of support for federalism that could produce some measure of meaningful results.

1 thought on “Federalism Amendment

  1. Great article! If you are generally interested in the post-tea party movement to repeal the 16th Amendment, come by and read the Declaration. The July 12th Movement is a multi-group collaborative effort declaring July 12th, the centenary of the Income Tax Amendment, as a National Day of Mourning and a call for its REPEAL. Hope to see you there!

    John Hanson
    Repeal the Income Tax
    July 12th Movement
    Twitter: @RepealIncomeTax

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