Rapidly growing support for the “Repeal Amendment” — a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow a vote by two-thirds of the states to repeal an act of Congress — symbolizes the intense level of anger Americans have with Washington, according to observers.
In September, Virginia stood alone as the only state where leaders in the state legislature had shown an interest in passing the amendment, but that number has now grown to nine states.
State legislators in South Carolina, Florida, Utah, Indiana, Texas, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Georgia have since expressed interest in the amendment.
Hits on the RepealAmendment.org website have mushroomed over the past month, and the amendment has garnered support from Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and soon-to-be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, according to “Repeal Amendment” executive director Marianne Moran.
Moran also sees future opportunities for legislative support in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Dakota, among others.
“It just restores the balance of government between the states and the federal government as the founding fathers had originally intended,” Moran said. “The fact we have nine states already onboard shows the momentum, and I think the groundswell [of support] is the Tea Party.”
Moran continued: “The reason we have the support from all of the people we do in all of these legislatures is that the people who have been groundswelling for the last two years want limited government, and this amendment is all about limited government.”
Pennsylvania Tea Party activist Ana Puig, who has started working with Moran to get the amendment introduced in her state, said the amendment has a lot to offer.
“It would bring back power to the states, and with everything … that the federal government has tried shoving down our throats it is imperative that we give power from the ground up and not from federal government down,” Puig said.
She believes the amendment will gain even more support as increasing numbers of Tea Partiers find out about it.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen told The Daily Caller he would likely find overwhelming support from most Americans were he to conduct a poll on support for the “Repeal Amendment.”
“It really reflects an electorate that is frustrated, and a lot of the people that have not been involved in the process before [are] not sure what needs to be done, and they’re pretty upset about [the health care] law,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen believes Tea Party activists and most Americans have a shared desire for lower taxes and reduced spending in addition to a shared belief that politicians hold them in contempt. This sentiment, he said, has caused proposals like the “Repeal Amendment” to gain traction.
“There is no trust in government, and until that is restored there is no way to move forward,” Rasmussen said. “This is tapping into that same mindset.
“Twenty-one percent of Americans today believe the federal government has the consent of the governed,” Rasmussen continued. “Fifty-nine percent believe government has become a threat to individual liberty.”
The “Repeal Amendment” and other similar ideas have developed in reaction to decades of politicians who have promised to restrain the size of government, but who have failed to deliver, Rasmussen said.
Georgetown Law School professor Randy Barnett, a principal author of the “Repeal Amendment”, likewise believes that the support the amendment has received can be linked to this growing sense of mistrust of the federal government.
“They believe the federal government is out of control,” Barnett said.
Rasmussen compares the current level of angst with what existed prior to the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement ̶ all of which fundamentally altered America’s direction.
“The overwhelming call to put constraints on the government again is going to continue,” Rasmussen said. “One of the reasons for this frustration is that it is almost impossible to get a constitutional amendment through that would place limits on the government.”
He continued, “Anything that requires a constitutional amendment has to go through Congress, and Congress has no desire to give up on their own power.”
The “Repeal Amendment” likely will suffer the fate of countless other constitutional amendments, such as the School Prayer Amendment, that conservatives have proposed over the past few decades, Rasmussen said.
Nonetheless, Barnett remains optimistic about its potential for passage because the amendment would empower state legislators to check unpopular congressional actions and because it would empower the people to petition their legislators to check federal power.
“Most constitutional amendments don’t go very far because you have to rely on the states to ratify them, and the state legislators generally aren’t interested in them,” Barnett said. “But state legislators have a direct interest in this; they have a direct interest in protecting their own operations from the federal government.”
The amendment’s ability to empower the states to defend their interests from the federal government accounts for the rapid growth of support for it among state legislators nationwide, Barnett said.
Barnett also hopes the new members of Congress will back the amendment because it will not impinge on the budget or existing entitlements.
“There are a lot of Democrats up for election in ’12, and this is a bit like the extension of the Bush tax cuts in that it is going to go to the House then it is going to go to the Senate, and we’ll see if the senators who are up for election in ‘12 are going to vote with that in mind,” he said. “It is possible they will go forward with it.”
Organizers hope to bypass the usual route of having two-thirds of both houses of Congress propose the amendment by getting 33 state legislatures to petition Congress to call a constitutional convention that would propose the amendment for ratification — something that has not been done since the Constitution was ratified. Thirty-eight states would have to ratify the “Repeal Amendment” under either scenario for it to become part of the Constitution.