The Other Side of The Conversation Regarding an Article V, Convention of States
October 03, 2022 By Leah Southwell Program Director for The John Birch Society
Can an Article V Convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution actually rein in the Federal government?
The Constitution is a Compact or Contract between We the People and the Federal government. It lays out very clearly and with simple language and stated as concisely as possible the limited and enumerated powers
and proper authorities of the Federal government. The later added Bill of Rights, specifically in the ninth and tenth amendments, state clearly that just because it isn’t it isn’t named, the federal government can’t do anything not enumerated in the contract and that if we the people didn’t delegate a right or power, to the Federal government, it was to be retained by the states and or the people.
Does the Constitution limit the Federal government, yes, or no? If it hasn’t, why not? What error in the Constitution is causing the Federal government to have assumed unlimited powers?
Is the Constitution the problem and would amending it solve this problem? Or is the problem the lack of adherence? If a contract is not being abided by, do you add amendments or do you enforce it? Efforts to amend the Constitution to fix bad behavior of government is like amending the Ten Commandments to fix bad behavior of individuals.
You can not amend to remove a power never granted!
Why have we not been enforcing it? And who should have been doing this?
Primarily the state legislators should have been opposing usurpations of power? Finally, we the people should have been demanding it! We were supposed to be the guardians of the Constitution and electing representatives that took their oath to uphold it seriously.
Why have we not opposed these abuses of power?
Because often there is a benefit or bribe for complying with unconstitutional demands. Additionally, the Constitution was purposely eliminated from our education, leaving now three generations ignorant of it and to the principles needed to preserve liberty.
What would happen if the states stood up to these abuses and stopped complying?
Most states have over time made themselves deeply dependent on federal funding. They have agreed to comply out of fear of losing the free money and having to live within their own budget. Isn’t this like the pot calling the kettle black. We need to rein in federal spending but don’t decrease what you are sending to us, the states.
Where does this free money or bribe money come from?
The Federal Reserve System we live under is not Federal nor Constitutional. It is able to create money out of this air, used to bribe and enslave not only U.S citizens and states but the entire world. Please read The Creature from Jekyll Island
by G. Edward Griffin. Should we perhaps look deeper at the root causes of our problems?
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Is there a role for an Article V convention, as it is constitutional?
Yes, it is constitutional. It is also a mechanism that has never been used in 235 years. We were given two ways to amend the Constitution. The only way we have ever used is the Congressional method of proposing amendments. Could there be a reason for this? Yes, there are many reasons why.
Why is the Convention method risky and fraught with unknowns?
The well-funded and most vocal lobbying organization pushing for a Convention is called Convention of States Action. They claim that by calling it a Convention of States it is not a Constitutional Convention. We are both talking about an Article V Convention for proposing amendments. It is the same thing. Calling it something other than it has always been called doesn’t change its nature or it’s lack of rules.
Blacks Law Dictionary defines it as;
"A duly constituted assembly of delegates or representatives of the people of a state or nation for the purpose of framing, revising, or amending its constitution. Art. V of U.S. Const, provides that a Constitutional Convention may be called on application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the states."
What are the rules for a Convention?
Article V only gives us one clear instruction. Upon application of 34 states to Congress, Congress calls the convention. There are no other instructions for a Convention. If the goal is to circumvent Congress, then applying to them for a convention is a lousy way to do it!
If the states want to have a meeting to discuss ways to rein them in, then suggest a regular meeting, don’t endanger the whole constitution! The rules being promoted to the state legislators such as them controlling it, that each state will have one vote, the ratification process ensures bad proposals from being ratified, that they will nominate and control the delegates and most egregiously promising that it can be limited, are not found in the Constitution. These assurances have been made up to sway the state legislators into believing this is a safe method.
In 1787 the convention delegates locked the doors and no one knew what the delegates were doing until they were done. Could they do that again? Would it be any better to televise it live where everyone knows the delegates. I’m sure no attempts to bribe or threaten the delegates by powerful interests could possibly happen!
Can a Convention be limited to specific topics?
Corpus Juris Secundum (a legal summary of 5 court decisions) states: “The members of a Constitutional Convention are the direct representatives of the people
and, as such, they may exercise all powers that are vested in the people of the state. They derive their powers, not from the legislature, but from the people of the state. They derive their powers, not from the legislature, but from the people: hence, their power may not in any respect be limited or restrained by the legislature
Under this view, it is a Legislative Body of the Highest Order and may not only frame, but may also enact and promulgate a constitution.
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Court decisions and state conventions have followed the precedent set by the 1787 constitutional convention. As the 1787 convention did, a convention today can ignore limits of power imposed by the states, and appeal to the ultimate power of the people themselves. State legislatures have no reason to expect they can control the convention Thus, a “limited” convention is a myth
Ronald Reagan said, “Well, constitutional conventions are kind of prescribed as a last resort, because then once open, they could take up any number of things.”
How do we ensure that a Convention would not exceed its authority?
In our one and only previous federal Constitutional Convention in 1787, the delegates from 12 of the 13 attending states, were sent with commissions. The delegates debated during the convention if they had the power to throw out the Articles of Confederation and create a new form of government and a new Constitution. None said they were within their delegated powers to do this. Some said they didn’t have the power and should not proceed, some said they don’t have the power but should proceed anyway. Some left, knowing they were exceeding their authority.
Does this mean our Constitution was created illegally?
No! After great debate the 1787 delegates appealed to the ultimate sovereign power of the PEOPLE (not) the state commissions) for their authority.
Our most important founding document, The Declaration of Independence says,
"That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [of securing our rights] it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government…"
The delegates decided the Articles of Confederation where not sufficient to these ends and they were justified in throwing it out and creating a new Constitution, changing our form of government from a Federal system to a National one.
How could any bad amendments possibly be ratified when 38 states are needed to approve them?
Do we have any bad amendments now? I would say the 16th (federal income tax) and the 17th (direct elections of Senators) most definitely did not improve our situation or make us freer. Did the prohibition amendment not have to be rescinded? We know that destructive amendments could pass the current ratification process.
Could the ratification requirements be changed in a convention?
During the only one we had in 1787, they were! The Articles of Confederation stated that all states must unanimously agree to any amendments. During the convention it was changed in the new constitution to only ¾ of the states were needed to amend the constitution. What would stop them from changing it to a simple majority of the states or even a direct election of the people to approve amendments!
Is this the right time for a Convention?
With such extreme division in our country today. Would we be able to agree on anything? James Madison the father of the Constitution said, “If a General Convention [called by unanimous consent or by Article V] were to take place for the avowed and sole purpose of revising the Constitution… an election into would be courted by the most violent partisans on both sides
; it…would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who … might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundations of the fabric.”
What in our constitutional structure needs to be changed? And who, in a modern convention, could be trusted with such awesome power?
Is the push for a Convention a conservative effort?
No, there are lobbying organizations on the left and the right pushing for a convention. The left opposes the Convention of the States efforts but support a convention for their leftist issues like abolishing the 2nd amendment and the electoral college and now to enshrine the right to an abortion. The left works toward a convention in left leaning states and the right works on it in the right leaning states.
Why did Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. Jim de Mint and now Sen. Rick Santorum endorse Convention of States efforts?
Could it be because they were paid well to do that? Based on the 990 from COSA, we know that Coburn and de Mint were both paid around a quarter of a million $ to be their spokesmen. Maybe someone could ask how much Sen. Santorum is being paid? Being a lobbyist is much more lucrative than being a legislator.
We also know that the founder and leader of Convention of States, Mark Meckler in combination of salaries from his wife and son have had a combined income of close to a half a million dollars in some years. Who wouldn’t give their all to promote a convention for that kind of money? Not exactly grassroots!
Those opposing a convention have no organization or financial support, just the passion for preserving and protecting one of the most successful forms of government ever conceived.
If not Article V, then what?
The answer is enforcement, nullification and an educated electorate who holds their representatives accountable for their actions and replaces them when they don’t.
Nullification is firmly grounded in the text of the U. S. Constitution. Specifically, Article VI binds state legislators along with members of Congress, judges and all other officers at large to their oath “to support this Constitution.”
Article VI also states, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United Stated which shall be made in Pursuance thereof… shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”
State legislators are required to uphold and implement only those laws that are “made in Pursuance” to the Constitution. Any laws not made in Pursuance thereof” are therefore not the “supreme Law of the Land” and as such state legislators are under no obligation to enforce or carry out their provisions
An excellent read to understand this principle from a biblical view is The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate by Matthew J. Trewhella
State legislators have the power to stop abuses right now and have always had this power. A simpler and effortless solution for state legislators, would be to abdicate their role and let a convention try to fix an out-of-control D.C. The odds of any amendments that could force the Feds to abide by them when they are currently disregarding all the others is zero.
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Without a well-informed electorate, who understands what a Constitutionalist looks like, we have no hope. Current Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky said, “Show me a single state where Constitutionalists comprise a majority of the state legislature. At this point in history, an Article V Convention would be a disaster.”
We need a revival of understanding of our Constitutional principles and the ideals of liberty. We can’t expect less government if we aren’t willing to take back our own responsibilities as states and as individuals! No proposed constitutional amendment can substitute for an electorate and elected officials who are well educated about the Constitution
If you have legislators standing strong against government overreach, support them and encourage them to do what so few will. If you agree that a convention under the current sentiment is a dangerous and an ineffective solution, then contact your representatives now and let them know
. They are being bombarded, threatened and bribed from well-funded lobbying organizations attempting to pressure them to apply to Congress for a convention. So far this year, Convention of States Action has invested large sums of out of state money to influence elections of SD legislators through dirty attack ads on those who have held strong in opposing this as a viable solution. They need to hear from you! Let’s address the true root of the problem and work on a real but not simple solution!
This article expresses my own personal opinions and may not be those of my employer, The John Birch Society. For more information you can go to The New American magazine. www.thenewamerican.com
and the John Birch Society www.jbs.org
There you will also find our excellent Constitution Course called, The Constitution is the Solution, exposing the many threats to our American foundation. You may also contact me at email@example.com
. I would also be happy to speak to any groups wanting to learn more about this issue and would be happy to debate anyone in favor of a convention.
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--By Leah Southwell
|Post Date: 2022-10-03 08:17:16||Last Update: 2022-10-03 15:13:02|