There is a buzz going around about the need for a Convention of States. It is time, some declare, to put an end to the overreaching of the federal government that we continue to see almost daily from this Administration and Congress.
Who started the buzz? Mainly author Mark Levin who proposes the idea of a Convention of States in his new book, The Liberty Amendments. He contends that Article V of the U.S. Constitution may hold the key for American citizens to save the Republic.
Article V reads as follows:
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; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
Article V could effectively bypass the need for Congress to act to amend the Constitution and instead allow the states to call a convention in order to propose an amendment. Ratification of three fourths of the gathered states or thirty eight states would be necessary in order for ratification to become effective, thus legally amending the Constitution.
There have already been several state representatives who indicate that they are interested in this method to propose constitutional changes. State Rep Bill Taylor, representing South Carolina, has filed legislation calling for a Convention of States to take place. His bill, introduced on December 3, 2013, is part of a national campaign organized by the Convention of States Project. Virginia has also joined in as a state who believes that it is time for such an action.
Some argue, however, that a “Madison Amendment” should be used instead of a Convention of States plan. This amendment would ask Congress to enact an amendment to the Constitution which would allow the states to propose amendments to the Constitution without the need of a convention. If two-thirds of the states pass identical legislation then it would be sent back to the states for ratification.
The flaw with this argument as Mr. Levin points out is that Congress will never pass a law making it easier for the states to amend the Constitution. Congress will not allow its’ powers to be eroded. Also, I believe it defeats the very purpose for the Convention of States. Instead of using their own powers under the Constitution, the states would once again be giving Congress control by asking them to amend the Constitution essentially on the states’ behalf. Not a viable option when the goal is to limit the federal government’s powers.
So what is the Convention of States Project (COS)?
COS was founded by Citizens for Self Governance for the purpose of stopping the runaway power of the federal government, according to their website. They believe that the solution lies within a grassroots movement to get at least 40 states together for the purpose of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.
COS sees the problems as four major abuses coming from the federal government. The first abuse is the out-of-control spending by this Administration. Not only are they concerned about the $17 trillion national debt but they are also concerned about the trillions more that the federal government owes in vested Social Security benefits and other problems.
Secondly, COS sites a “Regulatory Crisis” in which because of the legislation or burden placed upon businesses, the real GDP growth has been lowered and the U.S. has been made 72% poorer.
Thirdly, COS is concerned with how Congress has continued to erode the rights of the states by enacting federal legislation. The end result is that states’ rights to control themselves, which was the original plan under the Constitution, have continued to be stripped away by the federal government.
Finally, COS indicates that the federal government must be limited in order to protect the liberties granted under our Constitution. It was never the intent of the founding fathers to broadly grant the federal government powers over the states. The opposite is true. Checks and balances at the federal level were to be in place and anything not specifically granted to Congress for legislative control was to be left to the states to decide. We see a Congress today that decides laws for the states without even considering the will of the people within those states.
Will a Convention of States make a difference? That remains to be seen. What is obvious, however, is that if we continue to be reactive rather than proactive, the rights we currently have left will continue to be diminished even further by a Congress and Administration that is left unchecked.
If you are interested in helping, COS is looking for 100 people in a minimum of 40 states to volunteer in at least 75% of the state legislative districts. They also offer a “Citizen’s Toolkit” on their website to help you get started.
COS believes as I do, that only through the support of the American people will this endeavor have a chance to succeed in restoring the power to the states and ultimately, to “We the People.”
Susan Knowles is an author, psychotherapist and former practicing attorney. Her latest book, a political fiction, is entitled, “Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember” available on Amazon.com. Her website is www.susanknowles.com, where this article may also be found.
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