Categorized | Opinion

Second thoughts on a constitutional convention

Reader Submitted Post:

Many good patriots have given a Convention of the States (COS) a thumbs up, trusting the organizers without further consideration. But, more study sheds more light and serious considerations.

The COS organizers have spelled out their game plan in their Convention of the States Handbook. They correctly state that Article V in the Constitution is the ruling authority for calling for a convention.

What Article V actually says is this:
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures oftwo thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or
by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress…” [bold face mine]

In other words, it is Congress that calls for a convention and it must do so when either Congress or the states have enough votes requesting a call. The only thing the states have the authority to do is to apply to Congress to call a convention.

But, according to their COS Handbook, their plan is this:
“After the states propose, debate and vote upon the proposed amendments they will be sent to the 50 state legislatures for ratification. Congress must choose one of two modes of ratification. They can either submit the amendments to state conventions elected for that purpose or to the state legislatures. “

What is proposed to be done in no way comports with Article V. It is totally beyond the scope of the Constitution.

When it is pointed out that the convention of 1787 was a run-away, COS proponents say that that is not true – that the Constitution was legally ratified. Here they are mixing apples with rabbits. The activity of the convention is one thing, ratification is a distinctly different activity. The convention was by all definitions a run-away convention. It was
called for the purpose of amending the Articles of Confederation. Instead, the Articles were totally discarded and an entirely new government was devised.

And, consider the hope that ratification by three-fourths of the states would guarantee that only good amendments would be passed. Remember that the 1787 convention reduced the number of states needed for ratification. A present day convention could do so as well – or even eliminate ratification altogether.

Con con promoters have been thwarted by the failure of enough states to call for a convention. So the COS organizers have broadened the category from calling for one to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to ”allow ALL amendments germane to ‘reducing the power of the federal government’ to be considered.” But once convened it is the convention that decides what transpires and would decide what is voted on.

In any event, the COS organizers do consider the BBA to be “a great idea” even though admitting that if in effect and spending could not be agreed upon, it would then require a tax increase to balance the budget. So they add “We need restraints on taxation.” But what if the BBA amendment passes and the tax limitation does not? Or, if both, and the first case scenario occurs and taxation becomes mandatory, but, taxation is not
possible, then it is not possible to pass a budget without one or the other of the two amendments being disregarded.

In any event, a BBA would expand the power of government. As it is now the constitution limits the power of the federal government by enumerating what it can do and no more. With the BBA the only restriction on spending is the amount of money involved.

However, there is a constitutional solution to federal overreach already in place,nullification as authorized by the Tenth Amendment. COS organizers have falsely suggested that “Such ideas are not only impractical; they could ultimately lead to a violent conflict.” Such scare tactics are not supported by logic or experience. Many laws
have already been successfully passed which nullify unconstitutional federal laws with little to no fanfare much less violence.

Then too, there is the question, if Congress does not honor the Constitution we have now, why think they would honor an altered one?

What we need to change is Congress, not the Constitution.

If you are a proponent of the COS, we would respectfully request that you reconsider your position.

Sue Long
“Abide By The Constitution, Not Change It!”

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

3 Responses to “Second thoughts on a constitutional convention”

  1. Jordan says:

    I greatly appreciate the author’s concern for her country, but her argument’s most basic premise is flawed. The states control every aspect of the Convention, not Congress. Congress only has the authority to name the time and place of the convention. Once 34 states apply, Congress has no discretion whether to call a convention and no control over the delegates (see Federalist No. 85, the paragraph beginning “In opposition to the probability…” Seriously, look it up. It’s crystal clear.).

    George Mason proposed to add the Convention of States provision to Article V because he thought Congress had too much control over the amendment process. The Framers unanimously agreed with him. It makes no sense to interpret Article V to give more power to Congress, when the whole point was to take power away. Congress already controls the first process–why would the Founders, given their intelligence and foresight, include two amendment processes if both are controlled by Congress?


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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