An Article V Convention is STILL a bad idea

Once again, certain Republican members of the General Assembly are advancing bills to call a constitutional convention, as detailed in Article V of the Constitution. Scott Lingamfelter, Jim LeMunyon, and Emmett Hanger are the parties responsible, all part of Republican leadership. It nearly passed last year, and was only defeated thanks to the heroic efforts of Dick Black in the Senate.

As I pointed out last year, this is a horrible idea, and opens the republic up to all sorts of danger.

All the same concerns remain, and have not (and cannot) be addressed by either the General Assembly members who support this, or by Middle Resolution PAC, Convention of States, or any of the other outside forces behind this effort. They can’t limit the scope of a constitutional convention. They can’t guarantee it won’t be hijacked by the left. They can’t explain how they’ll force Congress to adopt a ‘one state, one vote’ format for the convention.

Please lobby your representatives in the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia to oppose all three of these bills when they show up on the floor, as they will surely make it out of committee, thanks to leadership support. Possibly as early as this week.

Originally posted at The Bull Elephant.

30 responses

  1. While an article 5 convention may be fraught with dangers, some real and many imagined, it does seem like the only mechanism left to enact reforms than no congress will ever pass, like term limits and a balanced budget amendment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The way this nation is going – especially electing BO twice in a row – do you honestly think that an Article 5 convention will go our way??? No way. No.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nicki, “The way this nation is going…” is exactly why we need people like you on board. Washington has left the train station and will never return unless the States, with unrelenting pressure from citizens like you and me, force Washington to work according to the framer’s intentions of the Constitutional framework. The Convention of States project, although certainly started by conservatives is not really a left or right project. One of its most important priorities is tightening up the language around the commerce and wellfare clauses of the Constitution. The wording has been repeatedly abused by all three branches to amass more and more power. We want to ensure these clauses are clearly defined with unmistakable language and put in further protections against future abuses. The proposed amendments that will come out of the convention of states will revolve around reducing the Federal government’s foot print and making it more accountable to citizens (right or left), via balanced budgets, supreme court justice elections, Congressional term limits, etc. All of the applications from the states have almost exact wording as to the subject and scope of the proposed amendments. Congress has proposed amendments in the past and the States have ratified them. Instead of Congress proposing, this time States will propose the amendments, then States will ratify. We have to go around Washington to fix Washington; there is no other peaceful alternative. At the end of the day 3/4ths of the States must ratify the same group of amendments, be it one or a handful. The whole process from beginning to end prevents left-wing radical amendments as it prevents radical right-wing amendments. The process is anti-radical by nature, other than how it will be viewed by those in Washington. And again, this is not a constitutional convention. We are not rewriting first principles laid out in the Constitution. Article V is the last resort in “amending” the Constitution for errors as the founders so rightly realized would happen some day in the future after our nation had real “experience” with the Constitution. We now have plenty of experience with the abuses of the Federal government. So it is now up to us to use the ultimate power of the States, from which the Federal government derives its authority, which ultimately derives from our consent, to reign in this out of control Federal leviathan and return much more power to we the people. We need people like you to help save our republic.

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        1. BTW – just FYI – Rob is the author of this article, not me.🙂 And he’s the one responding, not me.

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        2. Here’s the relevant part of the US Constitution:

          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 of two 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;…

          (end quote.)

          Read that VERY carefully. Congress gets to call the convention. How is the convention to be organized? One state, one vote? Or one delegate, one vote. How will those delegates be apportioned amongst the several states? How are delegates to be chosen? Unspecified, which means, presumably, in calling the convention, Congress gets to specify all of these things. Then, Congress gets to pick whether the state legislatures ratify it, or whether state conventions shall do so. Let’s just say they specify the latter. They get, once again, to specify how the state conventions are to be organized, and the delegates selected.

          That’s how it could be gamed. It’s right there in black and white, for crying out loud. I am astounded that I have to explain this over and over…and the result is NEW people come over here and repeat the same things. NEVER do they actually stick around and explain how I, or Rob, or Nicki, are wrong about this.

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  2. I agree with Nicki on this one. BAD idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our national debt has grown to a level that is as great a threat to the Republic as any foreign enemies. Financial ruin has historically been the downfall of democracies, and this was an issue that was inadequately addressed by our Founders as they never dreamt we could have such economic irresponsibility, just as they never imagined career politicians. As even Republican legislatures are unable to control spending, it is impossible to imagine a balanced budget without an Constitutional amendment requiring it. Look at the states; those with balanced budget requirements in their constitutions…have balanced budgets. Those which allow the carrying of a defecit (California) have huge deficits.
    I’ve discussed the concern of a “runaway convention” with former U. Montana Law Professor Robert Natelson, who has written extensively about the possibility of an Article 5 convention. He firmly believes that the scope of a convention can be limited, to eliminate the possibility of things like the Dems rescinding the 2nd Amendment, ect. If we cannot control our debt we are surely doomed.
    http://constitution.i2i.org/files/2011/10/Rules_for_Art_V_Conventions.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “He firmly believes that the scope of a convention can be limited,”

      Patrick Henry didn’t think so, and I’d say history proved him right. 70 delegates were apppointed. Only 55 participated at all, several walked out, some simply refused to sign. Out of the 70 total, only 39 signed.

      Not quite like an earlier unanimous signing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What is the point of a convention when we have a constitution we haven’t used in over 150 years?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Your article is based upon FEAR of SOMETHING BAD happening at a “Constitutional” convention. FYI, an article V convention is NOT a Constitutional Convention. It is the means by which the founders provided the People with in order to PROPOSE amendments to the Constitution. Congress has the power to PROPOSE amendments to the Constitution every day. I would rather trust the delegates that are selected to PROPOSE amendments than the biased, special interest driven, Congress. Remember, only PROPOSALS come from an Article V convention. Nothing is ratified until 3/4 of the States agree to the proposals, which is extremely hard, Should 3/4 of the States decide that they want to re-write the Constitution (as much as I personally despise this idea) then let it be so. If the people choose it, so be it; but I have faith that the people will not choose it. Let the People flex their muscles and remind Congress (and all the rest of the Feds) who the boss is.

    You and I are on the same team my friend. Think of the great possibilities that could result from strong Amendments which restrain the Federal Gov’t.

    My one fear about the process is basically what Veritas commented; that those in power will ignore any new Amendments as they already ignore the existing Constitution. However, something has to be done. Do you have any suggestions on how to rein in the out of control Federal Gov’t?

    Here is a good resource to gain more information about a Convention of the States: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/conventionofstates/pages/263/attachments/original/1448454708/Article_13-FiveMyths.pdf?1448454708

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    1. First, there’s no way to guarantee that Congress won’t interfere with how the convention is set up, how votes are apportioned, or that you’ll you get the ‘one state, one vote’ method.

      Madison addressed methods of trying to rein in a runaway train of a federal government like we have now in the Federalist Papers (44-46), and not once did he recommend an Article V convention.

      There is absolutely NO way to limit the scope of an Article V convention in the Constitution. We’ve had one convention like it, in 1787, and it went far, FAR, beyond its original intent. We got lucky in the sense that it replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution and not something more expansive, but are you willing to gamble on that happening again, with the cast of characters we have on the scene now? I certainly am not.

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      1. To amplify:

        Given that Congress can basically organize the convention–AND decide that state conventions, not the state legislatures, can ratify what comes out of the convention (and just who will decide how those conventions are to be organized and how delegates are selected? There’s nothing said about THAT and one should fear what the default will be)…The fix will be in the minute two-thirds of the states request the convention. Everything–the convention and the mode of ratification, will now be in the hands of the very US congress we’re bitching about.

        Now if *I* were able to amend this process single handedly, I’d simply let the states amend the constitution without congressional involvement at all…by, say, passing an amendment through three quarters of the state legislatures *without* congress having to propose it first.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Many Constitutional scholars, lawyers and experts agree that a Convention of States is the best effort that should be waged by the States in order to reign in the power of the Federal Government. When our Constitution was ratified, the power granted to the Federal Government paled in comparison to the power granted to the States, and by extension, “We the People.” Those days are long gone; in fact, I believe the average citizen if asked, would assume that the Federal Government has ALWAYS had more power than the States. This example alone should prove how far we have drifted as a country from the governing edicts that our forefathers intended for us. Federal overreach has continued to grow with every passing year.

    To see a list of some of today’s esteemed Constitutional scholars who support a Convention of States, please click on the link below:
    http://www.conventionofstates.com/the_jefferson_statement

    For answers to Frequently Asked Questions re: a Convention of States, please click on the link below:
    http://www.conventionofstates.com/faq

    Liked by 1 person

  7. William Truax

    Your right, we have had a constitution for over 200 years. After the declaration of independence the founders realized that the states needed more authorities to ensure that the federal government couldn’t use it to serve themselves rather than the people/states they are supposed to represent. It is because the constitution lacks the specificity to limit our federal government that they in the ruling class are using the loop holes to serve themselves first and the States last. It is the same principle as Taxation Without Representation that fostered the need for the Bill Of Rights. The 5th amendment and Article 5 will give the States through a 3 fourths amendment controls over an out-of-control federal government.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. George Gregorich

    I can only say Convention Of The States is our only option to stop our loss of freedom . The only bad thing about the Convention Of The States is it was not done sooner and the longer it is put off the worse things are going to get . As it stands now it is we the government by the government for the government , this is so wrong . We have a duty that duty is to maintain freedom . Freedom dose not happen standing idle we must protect it and we have to work hard for it . It is up to us to make it We The People By the People For The People , once again . We like our Founding Fathers must take a chance to brake free from tyranny . If you stand idle the only change might be the total loss of freedom .

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If we were still a republic, I may have more support for your position. But sadly, that ship has sailed. Are the states but administrative appendages at this point? We have moved toward democracy, where the idea du jour aligns the wind sock of our government’s interests. And it isn’t democracy of the Americans they claim to represent, but rather the contributor class. As long as the Constitution still provides some constraint, the people have a chance to save this last best hope. But it won’t come from Washington. It is irrational to expect those who hold power to just relinquish it. We have but one mechanism remaining, and it’s the Article V Convention of States. Our government is but a shadow of its former righteousness defined in the Constitution and at the same time developed into the leviathan our founders had feared. The time is now, as it appears the end of our path nears. Research, educate, donate, volunteer…it’s your country, at least for a little while longer: http://www.cosaction.com

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree that the convention itself would not be sufficient to amend the constitution, and it would take 38 states ratifying what it did.

    But there is still a problem.

    Article V gives Congress the power to decide whether a proposed amendment shall be ratified by state legislatures, or by conventions in the states. (This is true for amendments whether they come out of Congress, as all have so far, or the convention.)

    Do you really imagine that suddenly-called conventions in the states won’t be gamed by the powers that be?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Folks, you’ll need more than platitudes and talking point from the CoS folks to convince anyone.

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  12. Samuel Nelson

    Can you think of any other way to stop the federal government from abusing its powers, or to stop our ever increasing national debt? This is the only way we can limit the powers of the federal government and remedy our debt. If we don’t call a convention then how else can we stop them? The federal government is not going to do anything about it. We have a solution, given to us by our Founding Fathers, to fix all of this. Don’t you think we should use it? If we don’t act now, things are going to get a whole lot worse. WE MUST ACT NOW.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can I think of any other way? Answer: I can’t think of ANY way. Including this one, because it’s NOT a way.

      This is the only way to limit [fedgov’s] powers?

      Really?

      If they won’t abide by the limits its under now, what makes you think they’ll abide by new limits? And that, of course, is assuming the whole thing isn’t gamed, as I describe below.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Samuel Nelson

    A massive national debt and a federal government that seems to tell you how to live your life. A convention of the states is the only way to fix the national debt and limit the powers of the federal government. If we don’t act now, America is just going to get worse. We need to act now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think everyone understands how dire the situation is here.

      But no matter how dire the situation is, you won’t solve it by playing Russian Roulette. Even if you do it right (with a revolver instead of a semiautomatic) it’s far too likely to make matters worse for the reasons mentioned above.

      Please read the comment by Rob Kenyon right above yours, and realize you’re just spewing the platitudes he was talking about. If you can’t bring more than that to this conversation, you’re wasting your time.

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  14. I’m from the Convention of States project (conventionofstates.com) and I think that it’s pretty clear that a COS (Convention of States) is a good idea.

    The three reasons that the article mentioned were these:
    1. We can’t limit the scope
    2. The left will ‘hijack’ a convention
    3. Congress may not adopt the rules that we want

    Here are my answers:
    1. Yes we can! The wording of the bills that we are trying to pass explicitly give the only topics up for discussion. States can instruct their delegates and recall renegade delegates. The Courts would almost certainly uphold the nature of the convention to be that which it was called for, and last but not least, 3/4 of the states must ratify anything that the convention produces, so only 13 states must say no to any junk.
    2. With our project, the convention will be specifically about shrinking the federal government and putting fiscal restraints and term limits onto it. I think it will be pretty hard for liberal agendas to be accomplished when all you can talk about is shrinking the fed govt, especially when liberals seem to only want to grow it.
    3. Even if that were to happen (which is unlikely), the Convention will only have to operate under those rules until it adopts new ones.

    If you have questions, you can find me at my blog, blog.hellandfamily.com, where I just posted a lengthy discussion on this topic. I encourage you to read it.

    Sign the petition at http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=216874

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1) We really can’t limit its scope, and your assertions to the contrary are meaningless because you have no backing. Look at 1787 and then try to tell me how we can limit a convention’s scope.

      2) Read below how the whole thing can be gamed, once the door is unlocked.

      3) Oh, wait…you mean a convention could throw out the rules it was called under? Didn’t you just get through saying that couldn’t happen?

      Jeez, you not only just stepped on your own dick, you did it while wearing golf cleats.

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  15. I second what Peter Krauss posted on the 21st. No matter the issue there will always people with opposing views. The COS allows for positive input & much needed positive changes. High-jacking the convention is beyond unlikely. Most Americans agree we’re on the wrong track. The COS is our best hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Rebecca Young

    A Convention of the States is NOT playing Russian Roulette because it will take 38 states to ratify anything that is proposed. Personally, I can’t see any other way to rectify this mess. Congress has become FAR too corrupt for Nullification. If you know of another way to get our government back to The People, I’d like to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You missed the part of Article where Congress gets to decide whether proposed amendments are to be ratified by the *legislatures* of the 38 states…or by *conventions* therein. If they choose the latter method, then there’s nothing whatsoever said about how the conventions should have their delegates selected, be convened or be run, so Congress will specify it. (There’s also nothing said about how the convention itself should be convened or run. One vote per state? One vote per delegate? How are the delegates apportioned? Who selects them?) I agree it would be hard to game something that had to be passed by 38 legislatures, but do you *really* think Congress can’t (ab)use this latter option?

      Let’s say two thirds of the state call for a convention. Congress gets to organize the convention. They dictate that the delegates will be…the members of the US Congress, maybe…and that the ratifying conventions will be very small, small enough that they can pack ’em simply by declaring themselves delegates.

      All that is permissible, because Article V leaves out basically all details on how the convention and ratifying conventions would work.

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  17. Robert B Morrow Jr

    The Convention of States is long overdue. Our founding fathers were very wise to provide this option to amend the constitution to take control of an out of control federal government that has over stepped its authority. It appears the only option We The People have to bring control back to the people over Congress and the Supreme Court by term limits. A balanced budget amendment appears also required to stop the out of control spending and regulation that is bankrupting our nation. Our immigration laws are no being enforced and our border are not protected because special interest group have corrupted Congress by making it a career position. Term limits have been proven necessary for our Presidents and are now more than ever required for Congress and the Supreme Court.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would agree with this, except that Congress gets to specify how the convention is to be organized, how to select delegates…and can even dictate whether state *legislatures* or state *conventions* will ratify whatever the national convention vomits out. How would delegates to state conventions (assuming congress picks that option) be selected? (For that matter, how would delegates to the big convention be selected? And would it be one state, one vote, or by delegation size? If the latter, how will delegates be apportioned?) All unspecified. Someone will HAVE to step in and specify it, and Congress will.

      IF (mind you, IF) all this was specified, and Congress had no say in how the process would play out, I would agree with what you say. But Congress would have total control over how it runs, once the states successfully trigger it.

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  18. I’m going to repeat, at this top level, what I posted previously four deep in a comment “tree.” Who knows, someone might actually READ it before posting platitudes about how the process couldn’t possibly be hijacked.

    —————————

    Here’s the relevant part of the US Constitution:

    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 of two 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;…

    (end quote.)

    Read that VERY carefully. Congress gets to call the convention. How is the convention to be organized? One state, one vote? Or one delegate, one vote. How will those delegates be apportioned amongst the several states? How are delegates to be chosen? Unspecified, which means, presumably, in calling the convention, Congress gets to specify all of these things. Then, Congress gets to pick whether the state legislatures ratify it, or whether state conventions shall do so. Let’s just say they specify the latter. They get, once again, to specify how the state conventions are to be organized, and the delegates selected.

    That’s how it could be gamed. It’s right there in black and white, for crying out loud. I am astounded that I have to explain this over and over…and the result is NEW people come over here and repeat the same things. NEVER do they actually stick around and explain how I, or Rob, or Nicki, are wrong about this.

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