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This review is from: The Constitution Failed (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fast-moving, comprehensive survey of our federal creature's constitutional breaches and arrogations over the past 150 years. Professor Owens' work reminds me of that of another Christian author, my friend George Grant. In this case, the sheer amount of information compended in the 230-page book could overwhelm the average reader, though I found it illuminating.
Scholars such as Robert Owens, Kevin Gutzman, Tom DiLorenzo, Tom Woods, and a handful of others stand against the grain of America's professoriate and take a stand for refreshing *truth*, outside the pale of political correctness. God bless their courage, and may their tribe increase.
As a survey of the federal government's violations of law, "The Constitution Failed" reminds me of Judge Andrew Napolitano's books about our lawless tyrant government. The colorful FOX contributor offers a mixture of unlikely legislative remedies and libertarian nostrums, but Dr. Owens offers a project on a grander scale: have the states hold a constitutional convention. Let's do away with our 'failed' Constitution, Owens suggests, and come up with a better one.
Before I address the author's thesis, let me mention two problems with the author's proposed solution.
First, a common refrain; a ConCon is a Pandora's box open to the Law of Unintended Consequences. The average American likes 'free' stuff from government, and far less than 50% of Americans would engage the state politics pursuant to an Article V convention. Thus, there's a better-than-even chance that those groups who are now gaming the federal system for freebies, would rule the ConCon. The Tea Party cohort is far smaller than the predator-and-parasite class, and in a convention, the majority will rule. Civil strife and mayhem would be one sure result of a modern constitutional convention.
Secondly, a ConCon can do nothing to address the root problem that Dr. Owens and Judge Napolitano pose: our servants tasked with writing our laws and obeying the Constitution instead violate both. With only 17 powers granted to it by law, Congress fashions new powers for itself as it goes along -- violating the highest law in America every time it does so. If federal actors violate *the original* Constitution, they will violate a *new* one even more readily, for the new Constitution would not enjoy the patina of honor stemming from the Founding Fathers' authorship.
As I posit in my book This Bloodless Liberty, We The People must assert our rightful *apex sovereignty* established in the first three words of the Supreme Law. We The People must do what we always retained the power to do: ENFORCE THE LAW just as it already exists. No need to alter it; simply ENFORCE it.
Through peaceful, lawful, state-level ACTION, not more words -- we must now begin to assert our sovereign creators' power of oversight and enforcement over our servant creature. Unless and until we do this, experience offers no hope that the creature of the Constitution will ever respect the Supreme Law.
In their "Principles of '98", Madison and Jefferson made it abundantly clear that as the creator parties to the Supreme Law, the States will always retain the authority to judge of its infractions and apply remedies. The question, of course, has always been HOW? This is the subject of my book; my thesis goes hand in hand with Dr. Owens' work, except for his proposed remedy in this particular book.
Thus, Dr. Owens' titular thesis is false; the U.S. Constitution has not indeed failed. *We The People* and our sovereign States have failed to enforce it. Contrary to his protestations on the accuracy of his title, maintaining that our Constitution has failed is tantamount to the parent of a recalcitrant four-year-old maintaining, "this child doesn't do a thing I say, so our household rules for conduct have failed". No; if the parents has never actually *disciplined* the child unfder those rules, it is not the rules that have failed, but the parent's enforcement of those rules.
Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer suggests in his masterful book The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review that the American People have always retained the power to decide when the U.S. Constitution is being violated. The question before us is only how we will enforce the law against violations by its creature.
Obviously, we don't appeal to that law itself; that will make it a federal matter. I must also respectfully disagree with Dr. Ownes' reading of the Supremacy Clause. In my book, I explain that the oft-misrepresented clause, "this Constitution...shall be the Supreme Law of the Land...and the Judges of every State shall be bound thereby" means that every State Judge will not only obey the US Constitution, but when it is being violated by the federal government, will ENFORCE the US Constitution as well! There is simply no other rational way to read the Supremacy Clause in light of the fact that the States are the creators while the federal government is the creature; and also the fact that the Tenth Amendment leaves State powers almost limitless.
We can use the courts of the sovereign States to arrest members of Congress *individually* under state criminal statutes. In the 28th Federalist, Alexander Hamilton suggests the People and States team up against lawless federal government as often as necessary. This law enforcement action I refer to as the AmericaAgain! Indictment Engine(TM). It will divide our domestic enemy into its component members who are in all cases accountable to their constituents. Such law enforcement actions can be repeated as often as necessary, as is true of all law enforcement. A convention would likely only occur once every few generations at most.
Although it would be wonderful to repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments, and pass new amendments demanding congressional term limits and balanced budgets, it will be more effective, less risky and more repeatable to exercise the People's law enforcement power for the rest of American History.
"The Constitution Failed" is an excellent survey of the crimes of our servants, though I disagree heartily with the author's proposed solution. I'm certain that I'll refer to the book many times for the quotations and citations alone. As with many Tea Party leaders, Robert Owens is edifying evidence of God's mercy on us as a people despite our national sins. In over 55 years, I've never seen so many Americans returning to the study of Scripture, American history, civics, law, economics and our federal Constitution.
We must bemoan the condition of our culture and the lawlessness of our public 'servants', but I agree with the author that we should "keep the faith, keep the peace, we shall overcome".
D.M. Zuniga, P.E.
Founder, AmericaAgain! Trust