its, and, if three-fourths of the states agreed to the language, thernamendment would become a part of the Constitution. Thernpeople, acting through their states, would be able, through anrnorderly and manageable process, to reclaim powers previouslyrngranted to, or assumed by, the federal government.rnConstitutional reform under this proposal would remain arndeliberative process. The only change is the recognition of whornwields ultimate control over the process. By allowing the statesrnto consider constitutional amendments that have not been approvedrnby Congress, we would alter fundamentally the existingrnrelationship between the national government and the people.rnAt the same time, we would restore the type of constitutionalrndoor envisioned by Washington and Madison at America’srnbirth. Since all just power is derived from the consent of therngoverned, the Constitution should be subject to amendmentrnwhenever the people believe the national government has aggrandizedrnpower and abused it. The states, after all, are closerrnto the people and more likely to reflect the values of the governed.rnWhy is federal control over the amendment process onlyrnnow, after more than 200 years, manifesting itself as a problem?rnThere are two answers. First, as long as state law controlledrnmany of the important issues of the day, any deficiencies in thernfederal constitutional amendment mechanism were of littlernconcern. As the federal government has asserted constitutionalrnauthority, however, to control more and more fundamentalrnsocial and economic issues in the past several decades, shiftingrnthe original constitutional bargain at the expense of the states,rnthe issue of who controls the Constitution itself has becomernmore immediate and vital. Second, although the deficienciesrnof the current system may only now have become critically urgent,rnthe vital role of the amendment process in determiningrnthe balance of power in the federal system was clearly understoodrnby the drafters more than 200 years ago. Reports of thernConstitutional Convention suggest that the current amendmentrnprocess was agreed upon only out of political necessityrnand that the leading figures of that day recognized preciselyrnthat it would give tremendous power to the central government.rnThe loss of state influence over the shaping of significant socialrnand economic policies is a phenomenon of the past 30rnyears. The states started to decline in influence during thernperiod of the civil rights movement. “States’ rights” becamernassociated with efforts to sustain the segregationist laws of thernSouth, and any effort to assert the influence of the state inrnshaping matters of policy became “racist.” State governmentrnhas since been relegated to the role of a largely irrelevantrnanachronism on the political landscape. Social and economicrnpolicies are now shaped by Presidents and by federal courts andrnlegislatures, with little meaningful input from the states. Thernvariety of debate at the local level has given way to a single debatern—carried on in a strange language—at the national level.rnThe opportunity for creative solutions to arise at a local or staternlevel is sacrificed in the move toward central authority. Thernstates, if power were restored to them, could provide 50 potentialrnsolutions to national problems instead of one. Some solutionsrnwould, of course, prove better than others. But at least thernstates provide a proving ground for experimentation, with successesrnverified and mistakes identified, before the entire nationrnis led down the wrong path.rnThe content of the national debate has come to reflect lessrnand less the values of the governed. Frustration with the coursernof policies pursued by the federal government and the inabilityrnto alter that course has led the American public to questionrnwhether the authority of the federal government is subject tornthe will of the people. Much energy has been spent during thernpast decade to devise mechanisms that would limit the influencernand access of special interest groups in the federal forum,rnin the hope that such efforts might restore the responsiveness ofrngovernment to the wishes of the governed. But those effortsrnhave been largely in vain. We cannot correct the perceivedrnabuses by lobbyists unless we recognize that they are rooted inrnthe growth of the federal government and its regulatory powersrnand the withering of any countervailing power.rnThe 1994 elections offer some hope that through the electoralrnprocess the majority can still demand the attention ofrntheir representatives in the legislature. But the federal power isrnbureaucratic and judicial, as well as legislative, and the majorityrnhas yet to find responsiveness in many of the most powerfulrnhalls of federal government. The solution to the current unresponsivenessrnof the federal government is not a simple matterrnof securing greater access to the federal system; we shall alsornhave to restore the fundamental balance of American federalismrnand return to the governed the ability, acting collectivelyrnthrough their states, to control the development of fundamentalrnnational social and economic policies.rnThe idea is not a new one. Indeed, history tells us that arnmethod for amendment without congressional approvalrnvery nearly became a part of the original Constitution. The Articlesrnof Confederation had required that Congress first agreernto any amendment, which then had to be unanimously approvedrnby the states. When the 1787 Philadelphia Conventionrnmet, it had to decide (1) if the Constitution was to be amendablernand (2) if it was, how it was. The first question was easilyrndecided since, as Federalist No. 78 put it, it is a “fundamentalrnprinciple of republican government which admits the right ofrnthe people to alter or abolish the established Constitution.”rnBut the second question split the convention along its basicrnphilosophical fault line. Gouverneur Morris wrote in an 1811rnletter to Robert Walsh that the convention turned on “the necessityrnof drawing a line between national sovereignty and Staternindependence . . . ‘that, if Aaron’s rod could not swallow thernrods of the Magicians, their rod would swallow his.'”rnJames Madison, as he approached the Philadelphia Convention,rnemphasized the need to allow the states to limit the federalrngovernment without the consent of Congress, and he camernwithin two days of having that authority included in the Constitution.rnThe Virginia Delegation to the convention was clearrnfrom the start that amendments should be made wheneverrn”necessary” and that Congress should have no role in thernamending process. The Virginia Plan, written by James Madisonrnand introduced on May 29, 1787, argued in Resolution 13rn”that provision ought to be made for the amendment of the Articlesrnof Union whensoever it shall seem necessary, and that thernassent of the National Legislature ought not to be requiredrnthereto.”rnThe Virginians believed the states created the union and byrnthe Constitution delegated express and enumerated powers tornthe federal government. In addition, power at the federal levelrnwas divided, with the executive, legislative, and judiciary powersrnto be separately and independently exercised. Madison andrnJefferson believed they had created a federal government withrnlimited powers. If the central government started to exceed itsrn20/CHRONICLESrnrnrn