There has been a lot of talk these last few years regarding a Convention of States. Many people have no idea what it is nor how it came to be about., so let’s talk about it. Let’s see if we can dispel the mists of ignorance surrounding this issue and discover the What, the Why and the How.
What is a Convention of States (COS) and how did it come into being?
The “Father of the Bill of Rights, one George Mason, a member of the Constitutional Convention, was the man that insisted that the mechanism for this right to amend the constitution be incorporated into the Constitution. He wrote Article V of that document and after much debate and some minor alteration, it was included in the final draft. Article V provides for the amending of the Constitution in two ways: 1. Congress can call for a convention to amend the constitution and this has been done several times including during the very first session of the American Congress: 2. the people, through their state legislatures, have the same right. The states may call for a convention to amend the constitution because Mason believed that the federal government would never act to curb its own power. It turns out he was both a fortuneteller and he was right.
Mason was also the instigator of the bill of rights movement. He had insisted that the brand new Constitution needed amending to include a Bill of Rights to protect the citizens.
James Madison obliged by writing those ten amendments we call our Bil of Rights. The senate called the convention during its very first session, as Article V specifies, and 75 % or more of the states ratified those ten to give us our codified rights. But, as is said, I digress.
Please note that there is no provision anywhere in the Constitution to call a CONSTITUTIONAL convention and none has been called since the one in 1787. That includes the Article V currently under discussion. It is called as a convention to amend not re-write.
How then, do the states go about calling for a COS? Here we get just a tad complicated. A convention of states requires that 2/3rds of the states make the call. In other words, of our 50 states 34 of them must agree to call a convention or it will not happen. Period. If they do agree to call a convention into being, the U.S. senate MUST set a time and place for the convention to be held. Note. The senate has no choice in the matter and they may not intervene nor interfere with the convention and they must set that time and place in a timely manner. The president nor any governor has any say what so ever. Not veto power here. There is only one small catch in this process. Every state must present the petition for a convention in exactly the same way with exactly the same wording. IF and when such a convention is called and any amendments are formulated and passed by that group there is one more major hurdle to be overcome before the amendments are actually added to the law of this land. The legislatures of ¾ or thirty eight of the states must ratify each one. The Founders of our nation endeavored to insure that any such a major undertaking be the actual will of the vast majority of the people. The current call for a convention of states could become the only one ever to take advantage of George Mason’s brain child so just what is its stated purpose? The convention the originators of this convention call intend that it be tightly focused on three compelling issues before our nation. Those three are:
To limit the power and authority of the federal government
To place fiscal restraints on the federal government
To limit the terms of government officials.
What do those actually imean? Could the convention call for an amendment that would require women to register for the draft? No. That would expand government power, not limit it. Keep in mind that any amendment proposed that does not follow the three intentions are not allowed and the states that have already passed this resolution have also enacted laws that would make even the attempt to do so a criminal act as well as the recall of the delegate (more properly called a Commissioner) and his/her replacement. OK how about limiting the authority of the regulatory agencies such as the IRS, the Department of Education and the Environment Protection agency, among so many more. The constitution clearly states in the very first line that Congress shall make all laws, yet that self same body has abrogated that responsibility to people that never have to answer to the people. These agencies have become the makers of their own laws , the enforcers of those laws and the executioners of those unconstitutional laws.
Number two is essentially intended to limit the ability to spend us into the poor house as so many liberal thinkers seem to demand and is actually happening this very minute. This could be done in a few ways such as enforcing a balanced budget and/or limiting increased spending. Perhaps putting a absolute cap on the amount of debt allowed by tying it to well defined percentage of the GNP. Better minds than mine will figure all of the details.
The third goal is a bold statement to return the federal government to the people by eliminating the career politician. Those people that spend more of their time getting re-elected than they do on fulfilling the promises they made and making sure any laws they pass are in strict accordance with the constitution. This is intended to place term limits on those nine unelected people in black robes so we can have some sanity in the judiciary. The constitutional limitation “upon good behavior” is not working because those professional politicians will not and do not use that to remove judges that go against the very wording in the constitution. In today’s world they even change the wording of any law they choose to make it fit what they, those none unelected judges, desire. Note the ruling on the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
What are the arguments against? No one seems to disagree with the aims set forth, but they do have concerns and objections. Among them is the fear that the convention will become a constitutional convention, a so called con con. This one is fallacious on the face of it if you actually know the rules set up and the manner that the prevention of that very thing has been addressed. There are rules in place and more being studied that would make this impossible. Think about it. Just the fact that 38 states have to ratify each amendment makes this one so unlikely as to be ludicrous. Then there are the criminal penalties any commissioner would face just for advancing the idea. You might even want to consider the thought processes of people attending such an event. These people are , by definition, patriots. Then there are the “It would be a runaway convention! There would be amendments proposed that would be outside the stated scope ”. These same facts are there to prevent that one.
Yes, I believe that this country is in trouble and that the ONLY way we can fix it is to call this convention. I even go so far as to state that those who oppose it are one of two types: they are either liberals who want to see much more government control of our lives or they are ignorant of the fail safes both inherent and incorporated.