JUNEAU, Alaska — A Senate committee heard testimony on Wednesday on an effort to amend the U.S. Constitution and establish a mechanism for states to overturn certain federal decisions.
Seven senators have signed onto resolutions related to that effort, including Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage.
McGuire, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which heard the measures Wednesday, said she believed it was the committee's intent to pass the resolutions through. "I don't think you'll find a whole lot of opposition," she said.
One resolution calls for the convention and the other lays out a framework for delegates. The effort calls on legislators in the other 49 states to apply for a convention as well.
Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, said the resolutions are meant to restore the balance of power between the states and the federal government.
The resolution outlines a countermand amendment that would allow states to repeal any federal statute, executive order, judicial decision or regulatory decision with a three-fifths vote of the state legislatures.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, said an amendment to the constitution that allowed states to overrule federal judicial decisions could have unintended results.
"I think there have been periods of time where the majority of the people would have willingly kept very, what we look back now on as controversial decisions by the Supreme Court — racial segregation, just as an example," Wielechowski said. "There have been times where you probably could have gotten the majority of states together to overturn something like that."
Stoltze compared the constitutional convention process to the process by which the U.S. Supreme Court makes decisions, saying the convention was a much more deliberative process.
"Look at Citizens United, which changes the fabric of campaign finance and was accomplished by a majority of one," Stoltze said, referring to a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that remade how political campaigns are run in this country.
The requirements of a countermand amendment convention would keep it from allowing states to make arbitrary decisions to overrule the judicial branch of the government, he said.