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Otter wants to amend the U.S. Constitution

Otter wants to amend the U.S. Constitution

Dustin Hurst
March 11, 2010
Dustin Hurst
Author Image
March 11, 2010

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter wants to change the U.S. Constitution.

He’s not the only one. So does the governor of Wyoming, plus some Idaho lawmakers.

In a letter dated Feb. 12, 2010, addressed to Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, Otter asks that Anderson consider proposing a resolution in support of distinct changes to the 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights.  Otter also suggests that the resolution include changes to the Interstate Commerce Clause.

Otter writes:

Too often we find ourselves bemoaning the erosion of our state sovereignty because of the imposition and intrusion of federal programs.  This intrusion is the result of an expansive federal government without boundaries or discipline.  If we want change, we must change the very document from which the federal government derives its power – the United States Constitution.

As you know, the Framers envisioned a nation with states empowered to be the laboratories of the republic, for each state to be strengthened rather than depleted by their union, and for the federal government to act only in the areas where its power and authority was specifically and constitutionally delineated.

Otter is following the lead of Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming, who, in a memo to members of his own Legislature, decried the impeding force of the federal government.

Freudenthal writes:

We cannot stand for a government we see today in which special interests engage in sophisticated lobbying which results in the federal government monopolizing commerce, health care, land use, social welfare, education and many, many other programs.  We must do what we can to stop this avalanche of federal intrusion.

The result of Otter’s push for a resolution to the federal government is House Concurrent Resolution 60, sponsored by Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly.  The resolution would have no force of law, but, if enacted, would be sent to U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Joe Biden, the entire congressional delegation for the state of Idaho, as well as presiding officers of legislatures across the nation.

The text of the resolution outlines the changes Otter and Freudenthal would like to see made.  On the 10th Amendment, language would be added to more clearly define the duties of both the federal government and state governments.

From the resolution’s text:

The Idaho Legislature urges Congress to amend the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution as follows: (Changes in bold): "The powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. This amendment shall be considered by all federal courts as a rule of interpretation and construction in construing any case involving an interpretation of any Constitutional power claimed by the Congress under either the "interstate commerce" or the "necessary and proper" clauses of Section 8, Article I."

As mentioned before, the resolution also calls on Congress to amend the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution.

Again, from the text of the resolution:

The Idaho Legislature urges Congress to amend the Interstate Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8) as follows: (Changes in bold): "To directly regulate commerce with the foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes, with no authority in Congress to regulate matters that are primarily intrastate with only an insignificant or collateral affect upon interstate  commerce.”

Both houses of the Wyoming Legislature have passed their state’s own version of the resolution.  Members of the Idaho House have already introduced Idaho’s own edition of the resolution, and the measure will receive a hearing Thursday in front of the House State Affairs Committee.

Otter said in his letter to Anderson that he will work to push the resolution through other states’ legislatures by working with governors in the Western Governors Association.

(Note: The measure was due a hearing in the House State Affairs Committee Thursday, but was held on the request of Roberts.  Committee chairmen Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said the committee will take up the resolution within the next few legislative days.)

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