Since the beginning of the Internet, people have wondered how we could use our new communication technology to enhance our Democracy.
One interesting application would be to create a system that connected the legislatures of the fifty states so that the states could respond to national and world events that affect the states and states' rights.
State rights have been under assault in recent decades. Both the Bush and Obama administration have passed legislation that mandated spending of the states. The health care reform act of the Obama administration and the No Child Left Behind Act of the Bush Administration created regulations and mandated spending in areas once controlled by the states.
States need a way to push back.
Article V of the Constitution allows states to amend the Constitution by holding a Constitutional Convention. States have never exercised this article as there would be little control on the convention once called.
Imagine each state sending delegates to a convention in Vegas, then having the delegates go wild.
Communication technology might ease fears of a convention by allowing the states to hold a convention online.
Imagine a convention where delegates in each state capitol logged into a convention held online. The convention would then be under the direct supervision of the state governors and legislatures. This format makes it easier to impose and enforce constraints on the Convention.
My proposal, in the wake of the unfunded Federal mandates of NCLB and HCR, would be to have an electronic convention. The goal of the convention would be to create a mechanism that would allow states to directly challenge and strike down Federal legislation that infringed on state rights.
The states should use the convention to give themselves veto power over any laws passed by Congress.
Such an amendment is in keeping with the design of the Constitution. The framers of the the Constitution had the Senate elected by state legislatures. Having the Senate answer to the state legislatures put a stop on laws that infringed on states' rights.
Unfortunately, this structure was corrupt. I imagine that many of Senate elections were like the shenanigans that went one when Governor Blagojevich appeared to be selling the sensate seat of Barack Obama.
The 17th amendment in 1913 made the Senators elected directly by the people. I believe the 17th Amendment was a good move, but it broke the only real mechanism that states had to assert their rights.
A new amendment that gave the state legislatures the ability to strike down any bill that infringed on state's rights would help restore the balance of power between states and the Federal Government.
The goal of the Amendment would not be to strike down the current health care bill. The goal of the amendment would be to create a mechanism that allowed states to isolate and veto any laws or parts of law that infringe on state's rights.
Once in place, states would be able to challenge Federal laws which they have found problematic.
We are at a crosspoint in history where States must take an affirmative stand to assert their rights. Exercising the right to hold a constitutional convention is the right course of action.
Holding the Convention online would give the states the ability to hold the convention without the risk of the convention moving beyond the direct task of writing a state's rights amendment.
(Added 3/26: communication technology would allow the states to create a network of legislatures.)