fountain pen writing and outline of Tennessee

Has this kind of process every made a difference?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

The process of state and local governments and political parties passing resolutions that is advocated by Reclaiming Our Liberty from the Court is very similar to the process successfully used by states in the past to obtain the rights they sought. It was this same type of process by which the states forced Congress to submit to them the Seventeenth Amendment. Until the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, Americans did not directly vote for U.S. senators. Rather they were elected by state legislatures.

But this changed when the states demanded that Congress send them an amendment for the direct election of senators.

Congress Would Not Act

The first proposal to amend the Constitution to elect senators by popular vote was actually first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1826, but the idea did not gain considerable support until the 1890s when the House of Representatives passed several resolutions proposing a constitutional amendment for the direct election of senators. Each time, however, the Senate refused to even take a vote. So the states took action!

The States Began to Act

When it seemed unlikely that both houses of Congress would pass legislation proposing an amendment for direct election, many states changed strategies, passing state resolutions calling on Congress to pass the amendment.

By 1910, 31 state legislatures had passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment allowing direct election.1 Here is a sample of the resolution passed by Utah. In the same year ten Republican senators who were opposed to reform were forced out of their seats, acting as a “wake-up call to the Senate.”2

In addition, twenty-seven states of the thirty-one states then needed to call for a constitutional convention on the subject had done so.3

Even citizen organizations such as the Illinois State Grange passed resolutions. (For information on state grange organizations see http://www.nationalgrange.org.)

By 1912, 239 political parties at both the state and national level had pledged some form of direct election.4

That year, the Seventeenth Amendment was finally passed by the U.S. House and Senate and sent to the states for ratification, which process was completed on April 8, 1913.

How This Compares to Today

As with the strategies states pursued for constitutional changes they thought appropriate in the face of an unresponsive Congress, Reclaiming Liberty from the Court proposes that resolutions demanding congressional action to reign in the Supreme Court be passed by:

• legislative bodies at all levels (state and local),
• local and state political party organization, and
• citizen and civic organizations.

Interestingly, as in the early 1900s, an increasing number of states are now looking at calling a convention to propose amendments to reign in the federal government. Though Reclaiming Liberty from the Court does not take any position on that particular effort, you can find out information about that effort at this link.

What Can I Do?

So, get involved. Get your local government (city or county) and any other organization with which you may be involved engaged. Urge your local government to pass the Resolution to Reclaim Liberty From the Federal Courts or get your friends or other local organizations to which you belong to sign the Citizens’ Petition to Reclaim Liberty From the Federal Courts. Then send us a copy of the Resolution or the Citizens’ Petition. We’ll post it on the Reclaiming Our Liberty webpage so others can be encouraged by your efforts to make their own efforts.

Then, in next year’s elections, look for our Voter Education Headquarters to find out where the candidates for Congress and the State Legislature stand on the issues of state’s rights and judicial accountability.

It’s going to take a grassroots effort to change our federal courts and the Supreme Court in particular. So let’s do this, Tennesseans! Let’s reclaim our liberty from the federal courts!

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NOTES

1. “Ulysses at the Mast: Democracy, Federalism, and the Sirens’ Song of the Seventeenth Amendment,” Judge Jay S. Bybee, 91 Nw. U. L. Rev. 500 (1997), http://scholars.law.unlv.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1365&context=facpub.

2. Ibid.

3. “The Seventeenth Amendment and the Death of Federalism,” Ralph A. Rossum,
Salvatori Professor of American Constitutionalism, found at
Claremont McKenna College, http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/996315/posts.

4. “The Seventeenth Amendment and the Death of Federalism,” Ralph A. Rossum,
Salvatori Professor of American Constitutionalism, found at
Claremont McKenna College, http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/996315/posts.

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