Archive for the 'Constitutional Amendments' Category

Some Quick Wednesday Hits

Posted by on Feb 08 2012 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Economics, Economy, energy, Environment, obama, PPC, Taxes, The Founders, Transportation

I remarked the other day that Amy Oliver and Michael Sandoval of our Energy Policy Center have been doing some fantastic work lately. Not sure why energy policy doesn’t get as much play as other policy areas but I certainly think energy is sexy. Their latest article scrutinizes the Obama administration’s love affair with China. The relationship is not simply a trade friendly “I give you something, you give me something” type of deal. It has more to do with China’s rare earth minerals and the ability of said minerals to produce “renewable” energy – which Amy and Michael once again prove is anything but green (and often times deadly).

We just released a new Issue Paper that tackles the perennial question: how much are we taxed here in Colorado? Many on the Left presume it’s not enough. When our researcher Anthony Gonzalez really dug into it and looked at the whole picture (state AND local taxation), Colorado it turns out sits right in the middle of the nation at 26th. Take a look at our first Issue Paper of 2012, How Colorado’s Tax Burdens Rank Nationally.

In his latest blog post, our Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson shares his thoughts on the recently signed into law National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Many believe the NDAA codifies the Executive Branch’s ability to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial. What does Rob think? Check it out here.

Keep your eyes on this developing story: Democratic lawmakers are putting RTD’s toes to the fire on building out the Northwest corridor. RTD made a promise many years ago and the folks up in the Longmont area have been paying for a rail system that has yet to be delivered. How long can RTD hold out? How long will the Northwest corridor take it? Time will tell…

Finally, there is a really cool economics fundamentals class being held at our building this Saturday the 11th. I encourage all of you to take a look at the details here. For those still not on Facebook, here is some information:

Are you a liberty activist who loves free markets, capitalism and limited government – but have a difficult time describing its myriad benefits and merits when talking with others?

Then this is the educational training course for you!

Liberty on the Rocks is looking for leaders in the liberty movement (current or future) who are interested in obtaining insights into the basic fundamental principles of free market economics by attending a half-day educational course in Denver. **Tickets to attend are $10**

On Saturday, February 11th from 1:30-6:30pm, Liberty on the Rocks will present an exclusive hands-on, discussion and activity-driven economics session. During this half-day course, attendees will learn and/or better understand:

-The role economics plays in the advancement of liberty

-How to make the case for freedom from an economic and philosophical perspective

-How prices work in a market place

-Different ways of looking at public policy from an economic perspective

-The essential arguments for why socialism can’t work

RSVP today by purchasing tickets at:

Email Amanda Muell for even more info.

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VIDEO: Constitutional Guide to Fighting Federal Overreach

Posted by on Oct 18 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, Continuing Legal Education, Events, Kopelization, obamacare, Originalism, PPC, supreme court, The Founders, U.S. Constitution

What an event! I can’t begin to describe to my readers how incredibly epic our Constitutional Law event was last month. Our two resident ConLaw scholars Dave Kopel of the University of Denver Law School and Rob Natelson, formerly of the University of Montana Law School wow’ed the crowd with their presentations. We completely sold out the Antlers Hilton auditorium down in Colorado Springs with hundreds of liberty loving nerds who wanted to learn more about the supreme law of the land – our Constitution. In case you missed it, or wanted to relive it again, we’ve got the entire event posted on YouTube. You can find the playlist here.

I also wanted to post the schedule of the event that you will see on the videos, including the lecture titles from Rob and Dave. Here is what was presented in order:

  • Registration and Greeting
  • Why A Written Constitution? Explaining the Founding and correcting myths – Rob Natelson
  • Key provisions in the Constitution—what they really meant—Rob Natelson
  • What happened? How “progressives” abused the Constitution and undermined limits on Government—Dave Kopel
  • Tools the Founders gave us to protect liberty—Rob Natelson
  • A practical roadmap for taking back America—Dave Kopel
  • Commentary on the “practical roadmap”—Rob Natelson
  • Discussion and questions
  • Below are the 4 videos from the event:

    PART 1:

    PART 2:

    PART 3:

    PART 4:

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    The Original Constitution, 2nd Edition is Available

    Posted by on Sep 27 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, Necessary and Proper, Originalism, PPC, Religion and the Law, Taxing and Spending Clause, Tenth Amendment, The Founders, U.S. Constitution

    Constitutional scholar and Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence Rob Natelson released a fantastic book last year called The Original Constitution: What It Actually Said and Meant. The book was and is a huge hit. What the book did was fill a gap that was left by constitutional scholars who never got around to writing a comprehensive look at our nation’s founding document aimed at the lay person. Sure there are a lot of books out there on particular parts of the Constitution, but none that cover the whole shebang and none of them were written with your average Joe (or Jane) in mind. Rob Natelson stepped up and filled that gap.

    Turns out however that Rob was not satisfied the first time around. He went back and re-worked his first edition and created and even bigger and better second edition to his book. You can find the second edition both on and the Tenth Amendment Center’s store. So how is this second edition different than the already fantastic first edition? Rob explains all that in this podcast with one of my minions Justin Longo. You can also go to Rob’s blog – – to see what Rob has to say about his second edition.

    It’s difficult to improve upon a great thing. But somehow Rob did it with this new book. Thank you for all your hard work Rob. You are doing an incredible job educating us mere mortals on our nation’s founding era history.

    Speaking of education… don’t forget that THIS FRIDAY is our huge Constitution event down in Colorado Springs at the Antlers Hilton. There are a few spots remaining, so please RSVP as soon as you can. Do not miss this opportunity to see constitution scholars Rob Natelson and Dave Kopel in action!

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    Independence Files Amicus Opposing TABOR Lawsuit

    Posted by on Sep 08 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, History, PPC, TABOR

    Governor Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers have teamed up to challenge the lawsuit against our Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR). I’ve discussed earlier why this lawsuit isn’t just about bringing down TABOR. It’s about trying to bring down the whole citizen initiative process. To help the cause, the Independence Institute filed an amicus brief (friend of the court) opposing the lawsuit and encouraging dismissal. Much of the content of the amicus comes from Rob Natelson’s research into what the Founders meant when they used the words “republican form of government.” Rob discusses the brief in a blog post he wrote on Additionally, Rob sat down with one of my minions to record a podcast on the subject. You can find the podcast over on Editorial page editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Wayne Laugesen, read our amicus brief and described it as masterful. Thanks Wayne!

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    What To Do When Congress Won’t Rein In Itself

    Posted by on Aug 10 2011 | congress, Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Government Largess,, PPC, U.S. Constitution

    I’ve talked a number of times about how we can tackle our federal government’s spending problem. Each time the subject gets brought up, I must make mention of the Constitution’s solution to the problem. Our Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson puts it like this: the Founders envisioned a time when the problem would be Congress itself. So what to do when Congress is out of control and won’t rein in itself? Well then it’s up to the states to take control.

    The next logical question is: how do the states take control? Answer: A convention for proposing amendments! The states must come together and address the issue of runaway spending by our runaway Congress. Rob has been talking about this solution for quite some time, but after a couple years of incredibly in-depth scholarship, he’s written his masterpiece for Tennessee Law Review: Proposing Constitutional Amendments By Convention: Rules Governing The Process.

    Rob’s article contains the most in-depth look at our Founding era’s historical record on Article V conventions ever put down on paper. I suggest giving it a read if you’d like to become educated on this topic so riddled with fallacies and misconceptions. Additionally, check out this podcast Rob did this morning with my minion. It’s probably the best overview of the subject you could get in around 20 minutes time.

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    TABOR Still Doesn’t Violate the Constitution

    Posted by on Jul 27 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Petition Rights, PPC, TABOR, U.S. Constitution

    The Legislative Council’s executive committee, consisting of 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans, took a vote the other day on whether to oppose the TABOR lawsuit. You might recall that our Taxpayers Bill of Rights is going to court soon to determine whether it violates the Constitution’s guarantee of a “republican form of government.” As with anything TABOR related, the vote came down 3-3 along party lines. You might be thinking, “so what?” This vote was purely symbolic. It doesn’t mean anything. And you would be right, this vote doesn’t change anything. It is also true that this lawsuit against TABOR is purely symbolic. As I’ve stated before, this lawsuit isn’t about TABOR. It’s about our right to petition our government. What this lawsuit argues is that citizens do not have a right to petition their government and vote on constitutional amendments. Thus, it endangers all of our citizen enacted amendments to our state constitution – not just TABOR. Our resident constitutional scholar Rob Natelson disagrees. He argued in this Colorado Springs Gazette op-ed that the evidence is solidly on the side of petition rights and of TABOR. The Founders would have had no beef with citizens voting on constitutional amendments. In fact, they were quite fond of it in their day. So while this latest effort to undermine TABOR might result is some more public trashing of its good name, it won’t result in anything substantial.

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    Time Magazine: Meet Professor Rob Natelson

    Posted by on Jun 27 2011 | Commerce Clause, Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Economic LIberties, health control law, obama, obamacare, PPC, U.S. Constitution

    The fiery debates over our national debt, ever expanding undeclared wars, and Obamacare have resurrected a new found interest in Constitutional matters. This is great for us because we happen to have one of the leading scholars on the Constitution in our Independence Institute offices, Senior Fellow in Constitution Studies Rob Natelson. He writes a great blog for us over at and does weekly podcasts with a minion of mine over at

    I’d like to point out his blog post for this week that completely eviscerates the cover article on our Constitution by Richard Stengel in Time Magazine. In it, Rob deconstructs some points Mr. Stengel was trying to make in regards to the meaning of our Constitution. As an expert on the meaning of the Constitution, Rob was able to point out the many flaws in Mr. Stengel’s points. The Time Mag article is instructive as I believe it reflects many people’s thinking about our founding document. As such, Rob wrote an entire book exploding many of the common myths that Mr. Stengel repeats tirelessly in the article. To keep yourself from making many of these popular mistakes, keep following Rob’s work on

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    Fight Federal Overreach With Us!

    Posted by on May 05 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Events, federalism, Originalism, PPC, The Founders, U.S. Constitution

    If you’ve ever dreamed of being in the same room as not one, but TWO real life geniuses, then you’ll want to attend our program for the grassroots on Sunday, May 15th, from 1:15 to 5pm at the Red Rocks Community College. Both constitutional law professor Rob Natelson and our Second Amendment expert and constitutional law professor Dave Kopel will be educating the class on how to use our constitution to fight federal overreach. By the time the program is over, you will know the constitutional information you need to restore liberty and constitutional government in America! And maybe have a higher IQ through osmosis.

    The program discusses:
    * Why the Constitution was adopted and what purpose it serves
    * Untruths spread about the Founders and the Founding spread by those who seek to discredit it
    * How the Constitution was to be interpreted.
    * What key provisions in the Constitution really meant.
    * How politicians and courts have destroyed limits on federal power and driven America toward bankruptcy
    * How you can use the tools provided by the Constitution to restore the Founders’ vision
    * And much more!

    Please go to our event page here for more detailed information including the class schedule. Space is extremely limited so please RSVP now!

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    A Petition Process Change of Heart?

    Posted by on Apr 01 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Petition Rights, PPC

    Maybe the special interests stacked against our petition rights have finally come around! Maybe they will do something about HB 1326 and revive our petition process…


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    Amendments Convention: Answering Those Not-So-Tough Questions

    Posted by on Feb 22 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Economic LIberties, federalism, Politics, PPC, U.S. Constitution, U.S. Constitution

    Using the Constitution’s system of a “convention to propose amendments” is likely the only way we’ll ever get a balanced budget amendment, a federal single-subject rule, or other reforms Congress won’t pass. Opponents of the process, however, try to convince people that a convention to propose amendments is a “constitutional convention” (which it is not) and that it could “run away” (which it almost certainly can’t).

    Recently I traveled to Indianapolis to testify before the Indiana legislature. While there, I learned that opponents of an amendments convention are circulating questions about a convention, apparently designed to “stump” proponents.

    Frankly, when I read what are supposed to be tough questions, I laughed out loud. All the questions are answered easily if you know the history and law applicable to such a convention.

    The author of the questions obviously didn’t. He introduced them with this statement: “No convention has been held since 1787, and after two hundred years that experience has little relevance.”

    The statement is ridiculous. Americans have held hundreds, perhaps thousands, of conventions since 1787. They also have amended the Constitution 27 times, and state legislatures have submitted hundreds of applications for an Article V conventions. This and related experience is a valuable source of precedent. And the legal disputes that arose out of this activity comprise a valuable source of decided case law.

    But if what the author meant is that no interstate convention has been held since 1787, then the statement is still ridiculous because the Founding Generation’s copious experience with both interstate and intrastate conventions has tremendous constitutional and practical relevance. This is because the language and powers bestowed by Article V carry meanings and incidental powers fixed by Founding-Era custom and law, particularly the law of agency.

    [By the way, that is not the sheet's only inaccuracy---another is the old myth that the 1787 convention was a runaway.]

    Anyway, here are the 11 questions the author poses, with answers to each. For further information, see my writings, linked on this website. You can supplement them with the leading book on Article V conventions, Russell Caplan’s Constitutional Brinkmanship (Oxford University Press, 1988). Some of the book’s conclusions and language have been superseded, but it remains a valuable antidote to claimed uncertainty.

    1. How is the validity of applications from the states to be determined?
    A. Initially by Congress, although congressional decisions are subject to judicial review.

    2. How specific must the state legislatures be in asking for amendment?
    A. The legislatures may apply either for an unrestricted convention or one devoted to particular subject matter. There is no rule as to specificity, other than that the legislatures may not dictate specific wording to the convention.

    3. Must all the applications be in identical language?
    A. No. It is enough if they identify the same problem(s) or subject-matter(s). However, prudence suggests that state legislatures coordinate with one another.

    4. Within what time period must the required number of applications be received?
    A. Since adoption of the 27th amendment, it is clear that there is no time period. Because, however, some are still claiming that applications can go “stale,” prudence suggests that a campaign be completed within a decade or so. (The application campaign for direct election of senators took 14 years.

    5. Can Congress refuse to call a convention on demand of two-thirds of the states, and if it does, can it be compelled to act by the courts?
    A. No, Congress may not refuse, and the courts can compel it to act.

    6. Who are the delegates, and how are they to be chosen?
    A. Delegates are representatives of their respective state legislatures, and are chosen as state law directs.

    7. Can the convention act by a simple majority vote, or would a two-thirds majority be required, as in Congress, for proposing an amendment?
    A. The convention acts by a simple majority of the represented states. The convention may, by a simple majority of the represented states, alter that voting rule.

    8. How is a convention to be financed, and where does it meet?
    A. A convention for proposing amendments is a conclave of state delegates. It therefore is financed by the states. Congress, in the convention call, specifies the initial meeting place. The convention may alter that meeting place.

    9. May the convention propose more than one amendment?
    A. Yes—but only if they are all within the agenda of the convention, as prescribed by the applying states.

    10. Is there a time limit on the proceedings, or can the convention act as a continuing body?
    A. There is no fixed time limit—the convention can meet until it decides whether to propose amendments and which ones to propose. But a convention is, by definition, not a continuing body. It has no authority beyond proposing amendments within the subject matter prescribed in the applications, and once that is performed, it must adjourn. Additionally, states may recall and/or replace their delegates at any time.

    11. Can controversies between Congress and the convention over its powers be decided by the courts?
    A. Controversies over the scope of the convention’s powers may be decided by the courts. However, the states, not Congress, fix the scope of such powers. The most likely area of controversy between Congress and the convention would be if the convention suggests an amendment that Congress believes is outside the convention’s agenda as fixed in the state applications. If (as is proper) Congress then refused to prescribe a “Mode of Ratification” for the suggested amendment, the courts could resolve the dispute.

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