Friday, July 24, 2015

#ConventionOfStates: Time to put the fears and cowardice to rest

Meanwhile, we keep doing as we’re told by The Establishment and the near-sighted automatons of The Eagle Forum and the John Birch Society… we throw the bums out… we vote in another conservative. We keep sending good people to Washington, only to see them disappear into the meat-grinder that is Congress, and come out the other side just so much baloney! ... I would submit to you that if the folks up there running things right now are the best and the brightest that money, power and prestige can buy, then I think it’s time for their de facto defenders, the opponents of a Convention of States, to open their eyes, join our ranks and help give some of us poor, stupid, uneducated people a chance… we couldn’t possibly screw it up any worse! </sarc> ~ Michael Alexander, 'Allies Separated By A Common Goal', WFP, 3/27/15
Folks, it's past time to reassert American principles, traditions and values, preserving our individual, religious, economic and political liberties, along with reinstituting the overall concept of State's Rights enshrined in the 9th & 10th Amendments, atop the removal of credit cards and IOUs from the white-knuckled grasp of spendthrift federal politicians. An Article V convention of the states can achieve this! Yet, organizations like the Eagle Forum or the John Birch Society would have you cowering in the corner while the Federal Leviathan continues to shred what's left of our Constitution. In essence, they, like their liberal counterparts, think we're all too stupid to know what's best for us, yet smart enough to keep voting the professionals back in!  Whether reelecting career politicians or switching out for new models, it ain't working without the accountability of living under the same laws foist on us. Enough! Let us put these fears to rest...starting with the rules...
ConventionOfStates: Opponents of an Article V convention have been repeatedly defeated in their claims that an Article V convention would “run away”. The Framers of our Constitution were wiser than that, and placed numerous checks and balances to ensure the safety of such a convention. Opponents of a convention have since rallied around a new set of arguments claiming that Congress, not the states, will control any Article V convention. ... Like the runaway convention argument, it ignores history and substitutes fearful speculation for known fact.

Claims that Congress controls a convention show a basic ignorance of how laws, and particularly constitutions, are interpreted. ... Article V says absolutely nothing about the rules for a convention and whether they are set by Congress or the states. According to ordinary rules of constitutional interpretation, when the text is silent, we must look to historical precedent and the intent of the lawmakers.

...the historical record suggests that the calling body merely sets the time and place for the initial convention meeting. ... Calls for other historical conventions followed the same pattern. Thus, as applied to Article V, the Necessary and Proper Clause gives Congress authority to take all necessary and proper steps to set the initial time and place of the convention. To be sure, Congress has a role in the process, but that role falls far short of setting the rules or selecting the delegates for the convention. History shows that this power belongs to the state legislatures. ...

...Obviously precedent from prior Article V conventions would provide weightier evidence than other sorts of multi-state conventions, and the plain text of the Constitution would trump them all. Unfortunately, the text of the Constitution is silent with regard to the rules for a convention, and there are no prior Article V conventions to draw from. So we must turn to other conventions. Article V, after all, was not written in a vacuum.

Historical research shows that the Founders held at least 32 multi-state conventions in the period leading up to the adoption of the Constitution, 11 of which were held in the decade between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Convention. Clearly, the Founders were no strangers to conventions. Indeed, the frequency of these pre-constitutional conventions may explain the brevity of Article V.

Rules and procedures at these pre-constitutional conventions were surprisingly uniform. The conventions themselves elected their own officers and set their own rules subject always to the instructions issued by their state legislatures. Voting at these conventions was uniformly on the basis of one state, one vote. The indication of all existing precedent is that the states, not Congress, will exert ultimate authority over any Article V convention.

Completely apart from these historical conventions, there is one critical piece of evidence that cements the states’ control over a convention: the intent of the Founders as evidenced by the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention itself. James Madison gives a full account of the proceedings leading to the final draft of Article V in his notes from the Convention. According to these notes, George Mason strenuously objected to a proposal that only gave Congress authority to propose amendments. As Madison records, “Mason thought the plan of amending the Constitution exceptionable and dangerous. As the proposing of amendment is . . . to depend . . . on Congress, no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the government should become oppressive as he verily believed it would.” Responding to Mason’s concerns, Gouverneur Morris and Elbridge Gerry “moved to amend the article, so as to require a convention on application of two thirds of the states.” The motion passed unanimously.

The whole point of the convention method of amendment was to bypass Congress and the federal government. If Congress were to set the rules for the convention or select the delegates, the entire purpose of the convention provision would be undermined.

In short, every piece of historical evidence we have tells us that the states will control any Article V convention. ... The Founders knew what they were doing when they put an Article V convention in the Constitution. They knew the federal government would become too powerful, and they wanted to give the states and the people a way to preserve their rights. That is what a convention was designed to do, and that is what Article V can do, if state legislators will exercise their constitutional authority.
We must end the dumbing down of this crucially important constitutional process if we ever hope to reignite liberty and the rule of law in America, and one of the most vocal proponents of the Article V convention of the states continues to drill down on that point...
MarkSpeaks: This has been addressed time and again, but let me do it again. Three-fourth's of the states must ratify any proposed amendment from a convention of the states; the exact threshold required to adopt amendments proposed by Congress. The idea that thirteen red-state legislatures(with just one house controlled by Republicans) would embrace the left's radical agenda, should crazy amendments be proposed at a convention of the states, is absurd. Moreover, far more state legislatures are presently controlled by Republicans than Democrats. Therefore, the convention of the states could not be hijacked by the most liberal Democrat activists. Furthermore, even a cursory understanding of current events related to this subject reveals that state legislators are already putting together processes that would govern the meeting, should such a meeting take place in the future, to prevent anyone from hijacking the process. That said, the situation today is that the federal government re-writes, modifies,usurps, defies, etc. the Constitution virtually at will. As such, the Constitution as written and intended is meaningless in many respects. The purpose of Article V is to restore constitutional government, should that still be possible. And that was and is its purpose.

This is quintessential federalism. It's authorized by Article V. George Mason originally proposed it. George Washington and the other delegates at the Constitutional Convention, including James Madison, voted for it, as did the state ratification conventions. Such modern notables as Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, among others, supported it. An aging Madison would later refer to Article V as a way to avoid the growing hostilities between the states. Abraham Lincoln did the same thing, but it was too late to avoid the Civil War. And the reform amendments I propose in my book, among other things, empower the legislatures to override or bypass the federal government in matters where the framers intended the states to hold sway. Thus, the issue is not whether the federal government nullifies the amendments. The amendments empower the states to act.

Finally... This is not a constitutional convention. It is a convention of the states. The framers understood the difference. ... Historically, the states would gather to discuss common issues of concern and attempt to resolve them. Article V was proposed in this context. For some reason, those opposed to it claim to oppose abusive federal power and support state authority, yet reject the only constitutional and civil recourse available to blunt federal power and empower the states.
They talk the talk, but when it comes to supporting walking the walk, they buckle, they cower, and turn back to the same Leviathan, as if 'the federal government will magically abandon its own designs.' They have no solutions or recourse. Agreeing with Levin, I don't accept this defeatism, hysteria, or the inevitability of tyranny! And neither should YOU. The Founders gave us a constitutional process of recourse against a rising federal's time for the States and the people to rise to the occasion, display the courage of our convictions and, like them, pledge our sacred Honor in the cause of preserving a more perfect Union.


Related links: Article V and the John Birch Society: Allies Separated By A Common Goal
David Barton explores the intricacies of Article V of the Constitution
A means to smite the federal Leviathan
How The Proposed ‘Assembly Of The States' Differs From An Article V Convention Of The States

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