A Convention of States: Is it Time?

We the PeopleThere 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.

State Rep. Bill Taylor, SC

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.

Statue of liberty smallWill 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.”

 —–GB—–

Knowles-Freedoms-FlightSusan 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.

The article appearing on this site is the property of Susan J. Knowles. It is protected by U.S. Copyright Laws, and is not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Susan J. Knowles. Copyright 2013 Susan J. Knowles All Rights Reserved. 

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Comments

  1. Key Question: Can a Constitutional Convention be called as binding to only certain amendment(s)? Or, by definition, must it be open to amendments not considered as the originally agreed purposes of the convention?

  2. There is only one Convention named in Article V of the Constitution, and that is the Convention for proposing Amendments. There is no “Convention of the States”. The State Legislatures only submit an Application for a Convention, it is still Congress that will call it.

    The results of a Convention would not be pleasing to anyone except for the elites in power. Remember history and what happened when delegates were sent to suggest changes to the flawed Articles of Confederation, they threw it out and gave us a new Constitution.

    Some of the Amendments that are being offered are Trojan Horses that fundamentally alters the Constitution:

    The Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) actually legalizes current unconstitutional spending.

    The Parental Rights Amendment (PRA) actually gives the SCOTUS the power over parental rights.

    Michael Farris who is behind ConventionofStates.com, is the primary author of the PRA and is a strong advocate of the BBA. These people are selling a subversive agenda.

    Publius Huldah takes Mark Levin to task in her excellent refutation of his book.

    http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/mark-levin-refuted-keep-the-feds-in-check-with-nullification-not-amendments/

  3. Thanks for spreading the word on both sides of the constitutional convention controversy. You asked for comments. In my opinion, if Congress repeatedly gets away with defying the rights of the states now because the states basically “roll over,” why would Congress, after all these years of defiance, suddenly say, “OK, from now on we promise to obey the outcome of your Convention of States.” If Congress defies the Constitution, they will defy amendments to it.

    Article V states that Congress, after 2/3rd of the states apply to Congress, must call a Convention. It defies logic to conclude that Congress would call the Convention and then be “hands off” in allowing the states to run it completely on their own. First of all, a national convention would have liberals and conservatives fighting to get the upper hand on procedure, and no matter how many legal precedents can be cited of hundreds of state conventions held without “running away,” a convention within a state is not the same as a national Convention of States assembled to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

    Further, since when, especially in recent history, has Congress obeyed rules? Would the states, which currently do little to exercise their rightful authority, finally stand up and stop the feds if the feds defied them? What would the states do to challenge the feds? Appeal to the (undependable) Courts? Basically, proponents of an Article V Convention are counting on the very Congress they say they cannot trust to “play fair” and without evidence or precedents to show that they would.

    While I cannot guarantee with 100% certainty that our Constitution would be re-written at a Convention of States, proponents of Article V cannot guarantee with 100% certainty that it would not. Further, I have read articles and comments from proponents stating we cannot be timid in these dangerous times, we have to take risks! This implies they are willing to risk our Constitution. I am not. And many liberal groups have been pushing for a re-write of the Constitution for decades. Why risk playing into their hands?

    The problem is with “we the people” who continue to elect unprincipled leaders! The Founders commissioned us to choose our leaders wisely and exercise eternal vigilance to preserve our liberty, yet how many who share our values can name their elected leaders at the local, state and federal levels?

    I agree with the description of ills facing the nation, and even many of the Liberty Amendments, but a Convention of States is not a prudent strategy to restore our nation. We need to pray very hard and focus our concentrated energies on the upcoming elections.

  4. I find it interesting that whenever any change in course is proposed concerning our government we find ourselves debating over whether Congress would allow it to take place. That is why a course change is needed, that is precisely why we need for States to begin to exert their sovereignty. Our Constitution never intended for the States to be ruled over by the Federal Government. The Federal Government role was to serve the States through mutual co-operation of the States and defend the union. It was to do so by combining the resources of the States for the betterment of us all. Clearly this has not been the case.

    Our problems are easily seen, decades of the same people in Washington vying for political power has brought us to this point. Politicians who are beholding to special interest groups instead of the States and people they were elected to represent. Self serving leaders instead of servant leaders are what we have today. Are their risk involved in calling for a Convention of States? I am certain that there are. However, the greater risk would seem to be continuing with the status quo.

    In my opinion, the time has come for the people to use their power, to impose their will and enforce their rights on those who would subvert them for personal gain. If not now, when??

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