Mark Meckler, representing Convention of States Action (COSA), the group dedicated to amending our constitution, unwittingly gave us the most compelling reasons not to open up the constitution under an Article V convention in his testimony before the Michigan Senate Committee on Government Operations on September 5, 2018. Thank you, Mark.
In his testimony, he stated that “most of you in your legislature, I hear it all the time across the country, lament the fact that the American public does not pay enough attention to the constitution. They are not necessarily educated well in Civics; they are not necessarily educated well in the constitution itself.”
I would contend that this is exactly why we should not open the constitution to the amendment process.
Mark Meckler began his testimony by stating that a majority of Americans are frustrated by the fact that far too much decision making and power is vested in the federal government. I believe this observation true, but do we amend a constitution that we don’t understand, or do we rather educate ourselves about the constitution to remedy the situation?
He continued by saying that this is a simple debate about a simple question about where decisions should be made in the United States. I would actually contend that this is a complex debate about a complex question concerning why we as American’s don’t “necessarily” understand our simple founding documents.
There are speculative answers to this complex question. Some of us feel we have higher priorities (what time does the game start?). Some of us think that the constitution is a “living, breathing” document that can be changed at will to the point that we have far surpassed James Madison’s warning in Federalist 62 about the “internal effects of a mutable (or changeable) policy” (parenthetical definition mine).
In Federalist 62, Madison points to the fact that changeable policy “poisons the blessings of liberty itself.” He goes on to say that “It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes, that no man who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow.”
To see what Madison was alluding to, I would encourage you to study any Senate journal of any day of any year in any State. Take for example yesterday’s Senate Journal in the State of Michigan:
This one-day journal is 71 pages long. After a tribute to a public servant who had passed into eternity, our Senators passed a resolution recognizing July 2018 as Craft Beer Month. Then they referred a resolution to the Congress of the United States asking them to remember to enact legislation that requires disposable wipes be clearly labeled as “non-flushable.”
They then received a message from the Governor informing them that he had approved and signed the following Senate Bills:
SB 871 which amended the 1927 PA 175 related to criminal procedures; SB 872 which amended the 1961 PA 236 regarding the organization and jurisdiction of the courts; SB 731 amending 1956 PA 55 authorizing jeopardy assessment of personal property taxes; SB 732 amending 1929 PA 236 providing for the recording of waivers of priority of mortgages; SB 733 amending 1970 PA 132 providing for the filings of surveys relative to land divisions, etc.
Oh my God, I can’t go on … the Governor signed and approved a total of 66 Bills listed on a total of 16 pages of this one-day Senate Journal.
I would challenge any one of our State Senators to “testify” whether they have read 1970 PA 132, or 1929 PA 236, or any one of these so-called “laws” that they are busy amending, and if they could cite the exact Section and Clause of the United States Constitution that gives them the authority to do any of these things to the people of the United States.
The Journal goes on to “read” Executive Order (No. 2018-7) Transferring Refugee Services Functions from “the Office of Refugee Services within the Department of Health and Human Services to the Michigan Office for New Americans within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs” (I would ask why), and Executive Order (2018-8) naming the Brian J. Whiston Memorial Fountain (I would ask who).
The Governor then submitted to the Senate appointments to 57 various Boards, Directorships, Commissions, Councils, Advisory Panels, Administrations, and Task Forces a myriad of faceless bureaucrats, whereby our Governor “has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” That italicized sentence, my fellow citizens, is the exact wording of one of the 26 grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence that caused us to absolve our allegiance to the British Crown in the first place.
All of the above was accomplished in the first 18 minutes of this particular Senate “day.”
They then took a 54-minute recess from 10:18 am to 11:12 am.
The reconvened Senate then blathered about this and blustered about that, and then at 11:32 am they took their second recess that lasted until 1:31 pm – almost a two-hour break.
Upon return, they introduced 56 more bills and took their third recess, after which they discussed, voted on and cataloged more unreadable stuff and adjourned at 4:02 pm.
Read it yourself. See what I mean. Then we need to ask ourselves, “Why would Mark Meckler (or any of us) want these people to open up our constitution, other than to actually read it? Then ask your legislator to show us the constitutional authority that gives them the right to do any of what they are doing, when their actual duty is to protect and defend the constitution that they seemingly don’t follow and we seemingly don’t understand.