Marianne Moran is a lawyer in West Palm Beach and a member of Tea Party in Action and Balance Our Budget Now. Through her work on the Florida Senate, she met Randy Barnett, a Georgetown law professor who is credited with developing the argument that Obama's nationwide health-insurance mandate is unconstitutional.
Through Barnett, Moran learned about a proposed "Repeal Amendment" that would give state governments the power to veto federal law by a majority vote. Now she is executive director of RepealAmendment.org and was recently quoted in a New York Times article about the amendment. Moran agreed to answer some questions from the Juice.
The Juice: Explain the repeal amendment.
Moran: It's a resolution for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would give a
two-thirds majority of the states the power to repeal any law or regulation of Congress. This has nothing to do with nullification, where an individual state can reject a federal law. It would be an amendment to our Constitution and would give states a mechanism to essentially veto if they do not like a specific law or regulation of Congress.
What do you think it is about the political climate of our times that has led people to consider drastic overhauls to the way our country has run, specifically changes to constitutional amendments?
I think the American people feel today that Congress does not represent them. The trust in government, or rather distrust, is at an all-time high. I think we have a government that a majority of the American people disagree with and don't want. Look at TARP legislation, bailouts, the government owning private enterprise... I think a lot of people are not happy with the stimulus, and I think there's a large majority of the American people that are upset with the health care bill spending.
Do you see this as something that could benefit liberal interests that are unhappy with federal regulations, as well as conservative groups like the Tea Party?
I think it's much bigger than [the Tea Party movement]... in 40 states, Tenth Amendment resolutions have been passed... it's basically a resolution saying, "Hey, you've overstepped your boundaries." We're giving the power back to state legislatures.
Would a governor have veto power?
That would depend on the laws of each state.
Under our federal system, states' rights were designed to be a check on federal powers, but just as importantly, federal oversight was intended as a check on runaway states. What happens if we lose that?
I think that's where the two-thirds mechanism comes in. Thirty-four states is a very large hurdle. Two state legislatures in each of those states have to pass it. It would have to have a very broad national consensus to get something repealed. We do have 27 Amendments to our Constitution already, which required 38 states to be ratified, so it is possible, but it would have to have a broad national consensus by both political parties.
This would obviously realign the focus of lobbying groups and corporate interest on a state-by-state level. Do you think state governments are prepared to handle that onslaught of money and coercion?
That's a really good question... the people have more control over their state governments, bottom line. In Tallahassee, just a handful of phone calls and emails make the difference in getting legislation passed.
But if corporations and special interests see that states have the power to overturn legislation they don't like, won't they move in and fill that vacuum? Then the legislators might not have time for our phone calls anymore.
Well... you still have the people of that state monitoring the politics of the state. I just feel like the people have more power and control over their state legislatures and the money in their state legislatures. I... I just think it would be a good thing for the people to have more power.
How does Florida, in particular, stand to be affected by the proposed amendment? Are we in a unique situation here?
You'd have to ask [Florida Senate President-elect] Mike Haridopolos about that. Many legislative leaders I've been speaking with across the country have been very excited about this, because it provides the means to eliminate unfunded mandates. For example, 20 states are filing suit against the health insurance mandate.
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Social security, Medicare, interstate highways, modern agriculture. All would have been impossible without the federal government strong-arming states to some degree. Would we be better off without such widespread movements?
I'm not going to answer that. We're not making endorsements on particular issues. That's up to the state legislatures.
So I'm not going to get you to say that Medicare should be abolished or anything like that, am I?
[laughs] No, I'm not going to say that.