Convention Of States Solving A Serious Problem, Why This Has To Pass: In today’s episode we talk with Brian Birdwell, a senator in Texas who has led the way on many major issues this spring. One of those is the Convention of States Bill that has passed in Texas. And then we’re also going to talk about a religious liberty bill that Brian has passed out of the Senate. Learn in this episode not only why the Religious Liberty Bill and the Convention of States Bill is needed and what it is but how you can help forward these bills. 

Air Date: 05/24/2017


Guests: Brian Birdwell and Rick Green.


 

 

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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast.  However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers.  Additionally, names may be misspelled because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Welcome

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! Thank’s so much for joining us today where we talk about these hottest topics all from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

Our founder is David Barton.  He’s America’s premiere historian. You can find out more about us at our websitesWallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. My name is Rick Green.  I’m a former Texas state rep, a co-host here at WallBuilders Live, and a speaker for WallBuilders.

The House And Senate Are Putting In Long Hours

And I am so excited today because Colonel Brian Birdwell is going to be with us. He’s actually a senator now with us in the great state of Texas and he has led the way on some major issues this spring.

Just some great victories out of the Texas legislature already. A couple of them we’ll talk to him about today. One of those is done, House and Senate both. It’s the Convention of States Bill that has passed in Texas. And then we’re also going to talk about a religious liberty bill that Brian has passed out of the Senate.  Not out of the House yet but headed that way.

Very, very important legislation here to protect the rights of conscience which we talk an awful lot about here on WallBuilders Live. So it’s a privilege today to introduce you to Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell. Colonel Bridwell, thanks so much for joining us today.

Brian:

Hey, Rick, thank you for the opportunity to join you guys today. Thank you.

Rick:

Hey man, you’ve been doing battle of a different sort for the last few months there in the legislative session. Are you getting any sleep? Are the long days and short nights?

Brian:

Sleep? We don’t need no stinking sleep. Early on, the Senate since we organized sooner than the House does, most of our long nights have already occurred.

Rick:

You did your hard work already, huh?

Brian:

We’ll have some long hours because we’ve got a lot of House stuff to do. But we were busy.  I mean long days in March and April. The House is doing a lot of long days now since about Easter. And so in the next two weeks, we’ll have some more.

But most of the major muscle movements the Senate has done its part of those major muscle movements. There may be some more but not picking on my House brethren. It’s just the structure of the Senate is a continuing body in the House has to reorganize each time.

Why Magistrates Need This Religious Liberty Bill

Rick:

Well, you guys talking about major movements.  Y’all have passed some great things out of the Senate this year. You’ve been right at the forefront of most if not all of those. Two of which I’d love to get your thoughts on. One this Religious Liberty Bill that you passed out of the Senate and then also Convention of States that Texas has completely passed House and Senate both and you led the charge on that one as well.

But let’s talk religious liberty first. I mean, you zeroed in on a specific area here where clerks and others would be faced with the situation of having to participate in something that violated their conscience. How does the relief part of this work?

Brian:

It works a couple of ways. You have magistrate judges that can be asked to perform a marriage ceremony. And then you have the county clerks that are the administrative acknowledgers on the part of the state of marriages that occur.

So we have to provide relief on both sides. Let’s talk magistrates first. Right now, before this becomes law, there are two types of judges in the state of Texas. Those judges that do all weddings and those judges that do no weddings.

Because right now it’s an all or nothing proposition because there is no relief from a cause of action. If a judge receives a request from a same-sex couple to marry them that judge right now without any protection for his conscience has to tell them no and has to tell the male-female couple no because he could be sued a cause of action, could be sued for discrimination, even though it violates his deeply held religious beliefs.

Rick:

So he has to just choose if that’s the case then he has to not do any weddings at all.

Brian:

Right. So you’ve got a lot of judges out there right now that are doing no weddings to ensure that they don’t get subject to a lawsuit. So they are not servicing couples that wish to be married by a magistrate as opposed to a pastor.

Religious Liberty Bill Provides Relief

Rick:

So then what does your bill do to fix that?

Brian:

It says that a judge has the right of conscience to decline weddings that violate his deeply held religious principles and those violations cannot be discrimination like race or other discriminations that are unlawful according to both federal and state law.

So if you had a mixed race wedding, remember in Scripture he created them male and female and so whether it’s one race male one race female, that is a Scriptural wedding. But it also means that that judge could perform that wedding and say, “Yes I want to marry these folks because this is male and female marriage as God intended it. And I’ll go ahead and conduct that ceremony.” But if a same-sex couple comes in right now if he refuses to do that having done the other marriages he could be sued for discrimination. And because that is a conscience issue, a conscience of a religious faith.

Let me read Article 1 Section 4 of the state constitution. It says, “No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust in the state.” Here’s the key phrase, “Nor shall anyone be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiment provided he acknowledged the existence of a supreme being.”

So right now whether it’s judges, and magistrates, and clerks because we have no protection for magistrates and clerks right now we have a de facto exclusion of people of faith from holding the public offices that deal with marriage.

Rick:

And so this gives them an ironclad defense basically. Look, if fits this category and it’s a violation of conscience then they have the right to say, “no” and there are others that would perform those duties. Colonel I’ve got to take a quick break. We’ll be right back, Brian Birdwell, a state senator from Texas with us talking about the religious liberty bill that has been passed out of the Senate. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live!

Constitution Alive

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution but just felt like, man, the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know. But it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.

Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.

We call it the QuickStart guide to the Constitution because in just a few hours through these videos you will learn the Citizen’s Guide to America’s Constitution.  You’ll learn what you need to do to help save our Constitutional Republic. It’s fun! It’s entertaining! And it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at WallBuilders.com.

Protecting Religious Conscience

Rick:

Welcome back.  Thanks for staying with us Senator Brian Birdwell with us from the Texas State Senate. Senator Birdwell, we were talking as we went to break about the Religious Liberty Bill and how he gives judges and magistrates a protection to say, “no” if they don’t want to participate in a ceremony that violates their conscience and someone else can still take care of those tasks but it protects their conscience.

Brian:

So we have those judges that are already comfortable with it with performing a same-sex wedding can still do that. But the judge that isn’t agreeable to that, due to his religious conscience objections, can still perform marriages that don’t violate that religious conscience, I.E.,  male and female marriages and not be sued for it.

Forcing The Federal Government Back Into Their Boundaries

Rick:

Well, that’s a good segue to the second great victory that you had because even the idea of Texas being forced to participate in same-sex marriage is something that’s that the Supreme Court has forced upon us outside the scope of its authority and certainly constitutional authority.

And you guys have said as a state, “Look, we’re going to join this call for a convention of states to say, ‘enough is enough.’” And obviously not for just that issue. We could go up for hours on all the issues where they’re outside their authority on, but this idea of a call for the states to come together and exercise their constitutional authority to say, “no” to the federal government and force the federal government back into their boundaries and their jurisdictions. It’s taken a while for people to warm up to it. But now past the Senate and the House and Texas is, what, state number 11 to call for this?

Brian:

Yes, sir, we’re number 11. That means we’re almost a third of the way there. When number 12 comes along we’ll be past a third. The reason this was so important-

Rick:

Because we need 34 total?

Brian:
You need 34 total. So 11 is just short of a third but 12 is a little more than a third of the way there. But look, Texas of all the states, there’s great states out there that have done this, Florida, Alaska, North Dakota, Arizona.  There are 10 other states that have done this. But Texas being the largest, and I would comfortably say the “reddest” state, this tells other states that this is serious. Because the nature of the problem is serious.

A Convention Of States Solving A Serious Problem

A convention of states is a serious solution to a serious problem. Because fundamentally the federal government was created by the states. If we go back in history I would tell you that the reason we’re in the mess we’re in right now, it got started with the ratification of the 17th Amendment.

Because there is nobody now actually advocating for the states as sovereign entities, whether it’s supreme court decisions that violate state sovereignty, whether it’s the Congress passing laws that direct the states, or compel the states through fiscal extortion, to compel the states to choose policies of the preference not of that state but of the policy preferences of the federal government.

I give you President Obama’s executive order that dealt with people of the opposite gender or of some other gender that is undefined that would want to use a different bathroom and if you don’t let people in public schools use the bathroom of their sexual identity you’ll lose federal dollars.

That causes a different federal question. I’d rather just lose the federal dollars and tell the federal government to butt out.

Rick:

But you talk about an example, a very clear example, of where in the Constitution does the president have the authority to dictate to local public schools across the country which bathroom kids are going to use? And even to say, “We’re going to force you to do something that is obviously wrong or else we’re going take all this money away.” I mean it’s a great example.

Brian:

Right, and the Scriptural example is in Genesis, I think it’s 24, the federal government plays Jacob and the state is playing Esau. “Sell your birthright for a pot of stew.” So the federal government says, “Sell your self-determination and decision-making authority as a sovereign state to the federal government.” And the states sell it by getting the tax dollars from the federal government that are on the nation’s credit card, for that matter frankly.

Understanding The 17th Amendment

So we end up, what we’ve done for decades before you and I were born, Rick, is with the 17th Amendment and how we changed how we choose our U.S. senators.  We doctrinally still have state representation in the Senate. I say, “doctrinally” because the Senate is supposed to be the state’s body. But who’s electing the senators? It’s the same people that elect the House of Representatives members.

Rick:

It’s no longer you guys as legislators, state legislators, being able to pick up the phone and call that U.S. senator and say, “Hey, I’m the one that elects you” at the legislative level like we used to do. Like you said, they’re no different than a congressman.  They’re trying to bring home the bacon and they’re creating all these programs.

Brian:

Right, and so look, with the exceptions of guys like Senator Cruz or Senator Lee maybe some others that in the Tea Party ways have been elected to try to return us to that structure. Fundamentally, the customer of the U.S. Senate is state sovereignty. The customer of the House is the individual citizen.

And with the 17th Amendment, while doctrinally the customer of the Senate is still state sovereignty, functionally because of who elects the senators, the Senate is nothing more than a smaller collection of the same thing the House of Representatives is.

So there’s nobody whether it’s in the judicial branch, the executive branch, or the legislative branch, looking out for the states.

And so the states have been trampled on whether it’s the example we gave of President Obama with his executive orders, education department, things that are not a specified role and function of the federal government have become areas of primacy.

The clause in the Constitution that the supremacy clause that has been turned into anything the federal government does, the states have to do. The states created the federal government. And the creation is never greater than the creator.

Who’s Watching Out For Our State Sovereignty

Rick:

And this is you guys as the creators of the federal government saying, “We’re going to rein you in and we’re going to stand up for ourselves since there’s not a lot of accountability at the federal level. We’re going to have to do it as the states and that’s what you do when you come together for a convention.

Brian:

That’s absolutely right. Look, the reason the governor appoints a vacancy to the U.S. Senate is why? Because the one person that’s going to have the sovereignty of the state most foremost in his mind was the governor of the state.

Rick:

That’s a good point, I hadn’t thought about that.

Brian:

So the reason the governor makes the appointment is because the state legislature used to give the charge to that senator. You better go to Washington and protect us from the federal government. Now that those senators are not accountable to the state legislature who’s watching out for state sovereignty? The answer is no one.

Brian:

Yeah, silence is perfect there –  because nobody.

Is Health Care Constitutional

Brian:

And so we’ve now got this domineering federal government. Look, the federal government has a proper role and function. My health care as a veteran is absolutely constitutional because Article 1 Section 8 says, “The Congress of the United States shall raise an army and maintain a navy.” Nobody has it so the V.A. system as a health care system is constitutional because of the article 1 section 8 function that stems from national security.

But does health care as a citizen of this country who has not served in the military or not a government employee, is there a right specified in the U.S. Constitution that says that your presence as a citizen in the sovereign state of Oklahoma means the federal government owes you healthcare? Please show me that in Article 1 Section 8.  It’s not.

Show me the word, “education” in the US Constitution. It’s not there.

Rebalancing The Federal Government

So this is the state’s way of trying to rebalance. It’s not to get rid of the federal government. It’s not to be imposing the state’s will on things that are a proper federal function.

Rick:

No, a rebalance is exactly the right word.

Brian:

Rebalance is exactly the right word. And it’s in three areas fiscal constraints, which would include a balanced budget, or a supermajority for tax increases, or a supermajority to raise the debt ceiling. Right now neither one of those takes a supermajority, just a simple majority. So that we would put some things in place that the Congress would have to obey that makes it more difficult for them to do what they’re doing with the national debt and spending. Term limits.

Rick:

What you’re saying is so right. And this is such a great victory for Texas to sign off on this and call for this. Hopefully other states, and they are, there’s a great movement across the country. So now if 20-23 more states will sign on we’ll have this convention. And you participated in the simulation last fall down in Williamsburg and kind of saw exactly how it’s going to work.

I was encouraged as an observer and commentator there at just the level of, and you use the word earlier, seriousness. I mean, the level of seriousness that these legislators who came in from across the country because you guys get it. I mean, you’re facing this and you’re dealing with it every day and you realize how important it is to restructure this thing to rebalance this thing in order to stop the madness and the nonsense. It’s an exciting time to see it happen.

The Difference Between Federal Government And States

Brian:

It is. May I add this, Rick?

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian:

I know. I’m filibustering-

Rick:

You senators, I tell you.  

Brian:

I know, I know. But one of the things that frustrates me with how Washington views the states is that somehow, some way, because I’m a state legislator I’m not smart enough to know and deal with the problems of the federal government? That is a completely false analogy.

Not because I’m the smartest guy in the room but most of the guys that end up in Washington are guys that started as a city or a county official, became a state legislator, and then go right to the federal body.

The key difference between a state and a federal official, whether it’s the chief executive, the legislative branch, the judicial branch, the key difference is the states, if you remember what Madison said, “The power of the States were to be many and brought. The power of the federal government was to be few and defined.”

So while geographically I don’t have as large an area of my governance, Texas is big but it’s not the entire United States. Geographically I don’t have as wide of a scope of authority.

But on areas of governance, I have great deals of responsibility that deal with our public education system, our own environmental concerns, and our utility regulatory concerns. So the span of things that we cover is broad but the geographical area is small compared to Washington.

Washington’s duty is to govern across an entire nation. But the scope of subjects on which they make decisions is confined to Article 1 Section 8. The problem is is that we have folks in Washington that look at a chain of command diagram as being federal government, directly below that state, directly below that county, below that city, and the school districts are off to the side of either cities or towns. That’s not how the Founders looked at.

The states collectively are at the top of the food chain because that was the nucleus of how we govern ourselves. The states created the federal government- just picture in your mind at the top of the chart you’ve got the states collectively with a dashed line over to the federal government that says, “Do article 1 section 8.” The states created collectively the federal government and each individual state creates its counties and its cities.

The states are the nucleus of how we charted all of our liberties and governance in this great nation.

And that’s where the nucleus still belongs. But right now so much power has been drawn to Washington that everything from what light bulbs you can purchase are now governed by Washington D.C.

Saving This Republic

Rick:

And this is absolutely I believe that the most important step we can take to start the reversal of that trend.

Brian:

If we don’t reverse it the country is done. And if the vote to supposedly repeal the ACA is any indication we have very precious little time to save this republic. This is the only way we have a chance of doing.

Rick:

No doubt.

Brian:

For those out there Rick that would say, “Well, if we’re not obeying the constitution now why is adding any amendment going to make any difference?” Well, that’s the attitude that basically says, “Let’s just all give up go home and let five people wearing black robes dictate to us.” It’s not to consent of the governor it’s the consent of the appoint. You choose which one you want.

Rick:

That’s right. And to say that they would ignore an amendment that just occurred really ignores history. Because there’s no doubt they will have to follow amendments that occur. Now, will they change it over time? Possibly, but then we have another convention. And more importantly, they are following the Constitution as they’ve interpreted it. And what this does is allow the states to say, “Nope, your interpretation was wrong. Here’s the right interpretation.”

Brian:

Yeah. “We’re going to fix your problem.” I mean this is this is like when you were a parent and talking to your kids, “If you don’t fix it I’ll do it for you.” Well, since it’s clear to me that the federal government cannot fix this problem. And not only can’t but, frankly, does not have the political will to.

Do you think for one minute you’re going to get a term limit or a balanced budget or anything else that constrains the federal government’s power out of the federal legislature?

Rick:

No way.  And that’s what the Founders said. The nature of man is when you have the power you’re not going to give it up. They have overstepped and that’s why George Mason stood up at the convention, at the Constitutional Convention and said, “This ain’t going to work. Once they get out of there out of their boundaries we have to have a mechanism to force them back in. And the mechanism cannot depend on them. It’s got to depend on the states.” And that’s exactly what you’re doing.

How You Can Help

Brian:

Yeah. In John Wayne’s final movie, The Shootist, he gives Ron Howard a shooting lesson. And Ron Howard shoots almost as good as John Wayne. Ron Howard asked John Wayne, “How do you come out on top on all those gunfights when I nearly tied you shooting back there. I shoot almost as good as you,” And John Wayne said it really well, “It isn’t being the fastest and most accurate that counts, it’s being willing.” 

If the states are not willing as a body to stand up and get the federal government under control and return the states back to their proper balance in our federal system to make federalism great again, ok. If we if we’re not prepared to do that then we are signing up for a federal master for the remainder of the duration of the life of this country.

Brian:

Well, thanks to your leadership. Texas is saying, “We are willing to stand.” Ten other states so far have joined in that and that call and we’re asking, “Where are the other 23? And get busy, get it done. Let’s make this happen.” Colonel Birdwell, God bless you, brother.

Brian:

Thank you, sir. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my governor, Governor Abbott, and my Lieutenant governor, Governor Patrick for helping me because on my own combat power this would not have been done.

Brian:

Yeah, there was a big change man. And from the time you first started working on this to now a lot of people came on board so thanks for the leading the way.

Brian:

The local grassroots folks. I mean, there’s a bunch out there.

Rick:

Man, they’re fired up in Texas.

Brian:

Yes, sir.

Rick:

Well, appreciate it, brother. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to getting some more good report from you.

Brian:

Thanks, Rick, you take care of yourself.

Rick:

Well, folks, we’re out of time for today. David and Tim Barton will be back with us tomorrow. That was Lieutenant Colonel Brian Birdwell. He’s currently a state senator in the state of Texas leading the charge on so many major issues and this really is a fantastic victory on the Convention of States issue and on religious liberty.

On the Convention of States you can find out more, there’s actually a website about the different states if you’re interested in helping in your particular state https://www.conventionofstates.com/  is where you can go for more information. David and I both have said for years this is absolutely necessary for the states to put the federal government back into its proper place.

It’s a well thought out well-planned process and we’re super excited that Texas has joined in the call for that convention state. All that information available at our websites today as well, WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. As always, we’re so thankful for you listening to WallBuilders Live!