HJR3: Lawmaker wants to call a constitutional convention to rein in federal power


Christopher Filanc-Gustafson
Capital West News Service

SALT LAKE CITY — A Grantsville representative wants Utah as well as other states to call a new constitutional convention to overrule what he views as too much federal power.

A historic postcard of the Utah State Capitol


Rep. Merrill Nelson, R- Grantsville, has introduced HJR3 that would support a movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to “exert countermand.” That would allow a certain number of states to override a federal law that is potentially threatening to the state governments.

“Its going to take some time and we will need other states to be on board but if we can get this provision in the Constitution then the federal government will pay a lot more attention to states and the impact of statutes and regulations,” Nelson said.

Under Nelson’s resolution, 30 of all 50 state legislatures would be able to vote overrule any decision made by Congress whether it is a federal court decision, executive order or administrative agency decision. If the Constitution were to be amended with the provision there could be a major shift in power that enables only 26 percent of the American population to overturn U.S. government decisions. However, there has never been an constitutional convention since the first 1787. It requires a two-thirds vote of state legislatures to call such a meeting.

“This is concrete action, something we can actually do,” Nelson said.

Though some may agree with this resolution and that government has expanded beyond its original powers. Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City is among those that there are still those who question the motives behind the proposal.

“I know and respect Rep. Merrill, but I have a very important question for him, if we get together a constitutional convention,” Dabakis said. “I understand the Rush Limbaughs and the Glenn Becks will be there, but where exactly are we going to get the Thomas Jeffersons and the James Adams? Because frankly, I don’t see a lot of them in the tea party.”

“You cannot pull a constitution convention and limit its purpose,” Dabakis said. “It’s a dangerous move that could lead to the demise of the republic, we are talking about tinkering with our founding document in a way that is Pandora’s box and it is unbelievably dangerous.”

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