State Rep. Chris Todd Discusses His New Bill Proposing Term Limits for Members of the United States Congress
Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Representative (R), Chris Todd of Jackson, to the studio where he explained his new resolution HJR0008 calling for term limits for members of the U.S. Congress.
Leahy: We are joined in studio by State Representative Chris Todd from Jackson. We’re going to talk a little bit about a resolution he has here. It’s fascinating. If you want to chat with representative Todd our number is 615-737-9522. Chris, you have introduced a resolution HJR0008. Tell us about that.
Todd: This is a resolution that once it’s passed it will be sent to the U.S. Congress and it will be a request for them to call an Article V. A constitutional Article V convention for the states to meet for one purpose and that is to propose amendments to the Constitution. And this particular resolution is for one single topic and that is for term limits on the U.S. Congress.
Leahy: Now in the resolution, you don’t specify what those limits should be. In other words what you don’t say members of the House of Representatives can only serve six terms.
Todd: Exactly. Yes. This is up to the delegates. Once they get there and debate this if they come to an agreement. That’s if they come to an agreement, then they would propose that amendment to the Constitution back to the States and it would then take 38 states to actually ratify. So any change to our Constitution whatsoever takes 38 states to ratify that change.
Leahy: And there are two ways to get it to consideration by state legislatures for ratification.
Leahy: One is to have the House and the Senate pass it. I think that requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate to get it to the states for consideration. But the other way is to hold this Article V convention. Has there ever been an Article V Convention held in the United States?
Todd: There is not. Congress has always proposed every single amendment to the Constitution and then given the states the ability to ratify that. Many have failed, but as we know many have passed. We just celebrated the last summer the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote. Tennessee was the last state to actually ratify that.
Leahy: I did not know that.
Todd: Very interesting history on that one. When you look at the Constitution, it’s an amazing document. It was certainly divinely-inspired. There’s no question about that. And to have this particular article in there that gave the states the ability to amend the Constitution when Congress would not respond. And I know our own famed U.S. Senator Fred Thompson many years ago had a strong push to get this done and it failed at the last minute.
They pulled the rug out from under him. And so we know as citizens that Congress is never going to limit themselves. That’s been proven and it’s probably more so now. And so it’s up to the states to deal with this. And this is the way that our founders put it in there. You can look at all the documents that they wrote about the Constitution and all the opinions they had about it. And they certainly line up to support this exact method and effort to rein in Congress.
Leahy: What you just said about the divine inspiration of the Constitution. This is something that Os Guinness has written about Os is a descendant of the Guinness Brewery guy, but he’s a scholar. He has written about what he calls the Golden Triangle of Freedom. And in that he says in any society freedom requires virtue. Virtue requires faith. And Faith requires freedom. And the entire basis of our constitutional republic he says is built on that Golden Triangle of Freedom. I tend to agree with him on that.
Todd: I would too. I certainly would too.
Leahy: Now the Article V convention I think there’s a group that my friend Mark Meckler one of the early founders of the Tea Party Movement. And now he’s acting as the interim CEO of Parler. A very accomplished guy. He put this convention of states together idea to get an Article V convention. I think they’ve got like 16 states that have signed on to it. This would make Tennessee the 17th state except this is a very narrow purpose, right? The only thing under this resolution an Article 5 convention could address would be term limits.
Todd: Exactly. And our delegates that we send from the state of Tennessee are bound by whatever our legislature tells them to do at that convention by law under punishment. If they do not we can remove them as delegates and charge them with a Class E Felony.
Leahy: Class E Felony. That’s something you do not want to have on your record.
Todd: No sir.
Leahy: So in theory, if they got up to I think they need like two thirds of the state 36 states.
Leahy: 34 states to have an Article V convention. If this went if this passes would this would make Tennessee like the 17th state?
Todd: Potentially. The convention of the states has not contacted me since I’ve started running his this year. So I’m not really sure all of those 16 if they are a single article resolution or multiple. Because in the past they’ve had multiple they’ve had balanced budget amendment for another lumped into that. And so there’s some I guess debate as to whether or not you could call a convention if 34 states had a mixture of calls basically.
Leahy: That’s an interesting point. The resolution could say the state legislature of I don’t know Nebraska as an example. I don’t know if they’re on the list but they could say yes, let’s call a convention of states and we’ll talk about anything. Anything is on the table. But that’s not what your resolution does.
Todd: Correct. It is very very narrow. And because of that debate us term limits is another nonprofit organization that is really striving to get this done. They’ve started this new effort to do just single a single article of all the states and that way there’s no debate. There’s no question. when it goes to Congress the Constitution says they shall once 34 states gives them this resolution. They shall set a time and a place for the convention.
Leahy: Now, why did you decide that this was important? Why did you decide that you wanted to spend your time working on this resolution in this session of the general assembly?
Todd: Well a couple of reasons. One I believe in the effort. I believe the effort for term limits is a necessity. On a state level and I’ve had many people ask me this question. Are going to propose the same thing for the state legislature? and years ago I probably would have said yes, but as I have seen elections. Not just because I ran. But I was probably more involved running for office and I watched other elections. And I’ve seen in the last go-around how easy it is to turn over this particular legislature in the state of Tennessee.
Leahy: So you don’t see the need here.
Todd: The money is so big on a national level that’s what is the barrier.
Leahy: And, the money to elect somebody in Tennessee 90 percent of it can come from all like California and New York.
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