Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review and Commentary on The Liberty Amendments, by Mark Levin

I recently finished reading The Liberty Amendments by Mark Levin.  I have to say it's a great book and I highly recommend it.  It's interesting, full of historical quotes to back up Mr. Levin's views, and not at all dry.  It is something I could not put down until I had read it cover-to-cover.

Mr. Levin is an excellent orator and his command of language and vocabulary translate well from the spoken word to the written word.  Of all the political radio hosts that I listen to, Mark Levin is my favorite.  He is the host with whom I most agree and, unlike so many to whom I listen or read that make me feel dumber for having listened to them, listening to or reading Mr. Levin's words expands my vocabulary and I become smarter philosophically, politically, and linguistically.

Before the reader assumes that this review is simply this author singing praises to Mr. Levin, let me cut to the chase and the reasons I felt compelled to write this review and commentary.

Mr. Levin's purpose for writing the book is to push for a constitutional convention with the goal of adding ten additional amendments to the Constitution designed to restore the constitutional limits to government.  In his own words, he wrote the book because of:

the necessity and urgency of restoring constitutional republicanism and preserving the civil society from the growing authoritarianism of a federal Leviathan.
Levin, Mark R. (2013-08-13). The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic (p. 1). Threshold Editions. Kindle Edition

From the time of my earliest childhood political memories, I have learned to fear the idea of a constitutional convention.  I still fear it.  State governments are not independent and do not necessarily represent the needs or interests of their citizens.  Expecting state legislatures to use the same kind of wisdom and restraint today that was used in 1789 is foolhardy.

There is a secret, or at least less-publicly-known, congress in this country that drives legislation at the state levels.  If you look up almost any law passed in almost any set of states, you'll find that the laws are practically verbatim from state to state because the state laws are written in this secret national congress.  That, will have to be a topic for another blog article where it can be discussed in-depth but the concept shows the risk of having a constitutional convention in today's political environment.  A constitutional convention today would not go well for individual or even states rights but corporations, advertisers, and special interest groups would fare very well.

Before we can ever consider a constitutional convention, we need to take back our legislatures in the way that three plumbers in Pueblo Colorado took back their state legislative district in 2013.  Only when this happens in the majority of, or all, legislative districts across the US could we dare to allow a constitutional convention.

Mr. Levin is absolutely correct in that we do need to take back the Constitution by modifying it to eliminate the twists applied by the courts over the past 120 years.  Of course any changes made to restore the Constitution will also be subject to intentional and unintentional distortion by the courts but, hopefully, they will stand for a time before it becomes time again to repeat the process.  Remember the recent Obamacare decision in which Chief Justice Roberts totally disregarded original intent, intent that was current and easily read in the daily papers or even by asking the Congress that passed the law, in order to claim penalties for failing to comply with the individual mandate were a tax and not a penalty (read the full decision - see page 33).  As Mr. Levin states, the Founders were infinitely wise in planning for, and building into it, the means by which the Constitution can changed to fix unforeseen shortcomings.

In the interest of brevity, or at least reader convenience and my own work management, I'll address each of the ten amendments Mr. Levin proposes in separate blog posts.  I'll highlight them with a banner at the top colored green (go) if I mostly agree with Mr. Levin's proposal, as written in the book.  I'll color the banner yellow (warning) if I have weak support or weak disagreement and red (stop) if I strongly disagree with Mr. Levin's recommendations or his justifications.

I am not a lawyer or copyright expert but it is my belief that I am well within the bounds of fair use to quote from his book here to review, disagree, and debate the issues he raises in his book.  In fact, I am simply accepting Mr. Levin's own invitation to bring his amendments into the debate:

What follows are proposed amendments to the Constitution— The Liberty Amendments. It is my hope and aspiration for our country that these amendments can spur interest in and, ultimately, support for the state convention process. In any event, should there come a time, sooner or later, when the states convene a convention, these amendments or amendments of the same nature— as I make no claim of unassailable knowledge— may prove useful and find their way into the debate. But a plan is what is needed, as is a first step. This is mine.
Levin, Mark R. (2013-08-13). The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic (p. 18). Threshold Editions. Kindle Edition. 

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