State Senator Pody Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Limit Government Overreach During Emergencies



State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) proposed a constitutional amendment to limit governmental power during emergencies. Tennessee Stands, a nonprofit social advocacy organization, instigated the proposal of this amendment.

“No declaration of emergency by the federal government, the governor of this state, or any agent or political subdivision of this state shall be construed to lessen or abridge the rights and privileges of the citizens of this state guaranteed by this Constitution or lessen or diminish the controlling authority of this Constitution,” read the amendment. “In all circumstances, the departments of the government shall be bound to and shall not exceed or delegate, their respective duties and powers as defined in this Constitution.”

Gary Humble, Tennessee Stands Executive Director, told The Tennessee Star that the amendment relays a simple and short message to elected officials and bureaucrats: government must abide by the limited, enumerated powers granted to it in the state’s constitution.

“Our argument is that [the executive orders] are unconstitutional now. The truth of the matter is, the constitution is always enforced. There are no circumstances by which the constitution isn’t the supreme authority. In the case of an emergency, that’s not clearly understood,” explained Humble. “The confusion comes in [when] people often reference the Tenth Amendment. People will say that those are the state’s policing powers per the Tenth Amendment, that some of our constitutional rights do go on hold in order to provide for the common good and public safety. What people fail to recognize, though is that the Tenth Amendment [refers to] the U.S. Constitution.”

Humble emphasized that the Tenth Amendment defers powers to the states and their constitutions. He noted that the Tennessee Constitution doesn’t have an amendment to empower state agencies and officials to run their citizens in an emergency.

“The word ’emergency’ is currently not in the state constitution and its high time it is,” stated Humble. “In an emergency, the constitution is still the controlling authority and the government must still operate only by how the constitution defines it can operate.”

Humble shared that he’d reached out to Pody because he trusted him to fight for his constituents’ constitutional rights.

“I know that Senator Pody is a man that stands on principle, is unwavering, and stands on our original principles of the constitution,” said Humble.

Tennessee Stands has also rallied behind bills currently being considered in the General Assembly. The legislation they’ve supported carries a common theme: preventing state and local governments from exercising similar or expanded powers witnessed this past year during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is making it clear to all state agencies and to the General Assembly that you cannot bypass the constitution of the people in this state, ever, under any circumstances,” stated Humble. “That’s the message.”

The amendment was introduced and passed on first consideration last week.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].






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7 Thoughts to “State Senator Pody Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Limit Government Overreach During Emergencies”

  1. lb

    Emergency means temporary disruption of normalcy–you cant just keep extending an “emergency” over and over and over–

  2. MIKE

    Nice to see a legislator step up to halt the power grab by administration officials and state agencies in the name of an emergency. I support this 100%.

  3. 83ragtop50

    I have been after my rep to do something about this since April of last year. No one elected Governor Lee to rule as a king.

  4. Cannoneer2

    That’s nice. Your constituents want Highway 70 widened from Mount Juliet to Highway 109.

  5. Betty Lynn Duley

    Thank you Tennessee Stands and Senator Pody. The price is always eternal vigilance. That seems doubly true now.

  6. Karen Bracken

    Gary Humble for Governor!!

  7. Trevor

    Good Legislation! Thank you sir!!!