An answer revealed: An Article 5 Convention of States

In Part 1 of this article, I merely scratched the surface of the long train of abuses and usurpations of Personal Liberty and States’ Rights committed by our federal government. Sighting just a few examples of the erosion of the Constitution, my goal to show that some action was needed, especially in light of the recent growth government.

So, with reference to the effect of the 17th Amendment, I pose a question to continue the conversation:

If both houses of Congress allegedly represent the person, who then represents the States governments at the federal level? 

I offer that our States no longer have any real representation, which should scare you.  It scares me, because events in our immediate vicinity have a greater impact on our life and liberty than what may occur several states away. If no one exists to represent our interests then we have no say, no representation, and no choice. If our state senates, however, were allowed to choose their delegates, I imagine the make-up the United State Senate would stand in stark contrast to the current one.

What recourse do states have to remedy the failed Seventeenth Amendment, especially consider the great odds that change will come from the United States Senate?  An Article 5 Convention of States.

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 other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress…

A Convention of States is when each state sends delegates to meet and discuss amendments to the constitution, that when agreed upon become binding. The benefit of this particular process is that it is done without Federal interference. In their wisdom, the flawed men who are our Founding Fathers made the act of changing the Constitution a difficult task. They did this because they understood that just as they themselves were, the  future men and women of America would likewise be flawed, impulsive and corruptible. Edmond Burke said “all that is required for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing.”

Our founders seem to have had an inherent and greater understanding of human nature. As such, they built a “fail safe” into the Constitution; one that could be activated when the Federal Government became bloated and drunk with power.  That time is now.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The Declaration of Independence, Opening Paragraph

We live in a time of “soft tyranny,” as foreshadowed by Alexis de Tocqueville.  A time where the slow accumulation of intrusions on our liberty serve to allow the government to dictate at a level that crushes freedom, while the public accepts it in the name of some noble cause.  Just consider “First Amendment Zones,” a topic I will address in the future. If we truly face that fact, and accept that both parties, both houses and all 3 branches do not have our best interests a heart, we’ll find support for what is being proposed now under article 5. To quote Mark Levin, author of “The Liberty Amendments, Restoring the American Republic,” a Convention of States is the solution to the “Federal Behemoth.”

But can it be done?  Yes.  Will it be easy?  Resoundingly, no.

As I mentioned previously, the founders understood the flaws in the nature of man, and so made Constitutional changes difficult as a countermeasure to “government by whim.” Look at the math involved in the process of sanctioning an Amendment and you will see the hard fight ahead:

  • Not just a majority, but a supermajority of two thirds of the members of the entirety of Congress are needed simply to propose and Amendment. The same majority is needed in State Legislatures to merely call for a Convention to propose an Amendment.
  • Three fourths (75%) of States, that’s 38 of 50, are required to ratify (accept) an Amendment.

There are legal challenges, as well. Applications for a convention to propose an Amendment must be similar enough to count towards a required minimum of applications by other states. If there are enough differences in the wording, they can be invalidated. According to the Convention of States Handbook:

“To call a Convention of States, 34 State Legislatures must pass applications on the same subject matter… ‘Aggregation’ is the most important legal issue for legislators to consider. Will one’s State’s application be counted toward the required 34-state majority, or will it be considered distinct from those of other states?”

One solution is proposed by Citizens for Self Governance, in which a convention should be called not for a specific Amendment, but rather for the subject of “Reducing the power of Washington, D.C.”  I think this is a magnificent approach.  In this manner, we need only to specify an Amendment to get substantiation to begin the process. Additionally, they have provided a template on their website that legislators can use to insure that no application will be considered unique enough to be discounted.

Opponents to a convention say it is illegal, but that is not true. Moreover, there have been roughly 11,539 Amendments proposed between 1787 and 2013; of which 27 have been passed, including the Bill of Rights.

Any of a multitude of issues can be brought to convention. One would expect that each State would stand for what best represents its own interest, so the debate for what to propose for ratification would be lengthy. There is common ground though, and I daresay that such issues would be agreed upon quickly, issues such as:

  • A balanced Budget Amendment
  • Limiting executive orders
  • Repealing of the 17th Amendment (one of my favorites proposals)
  • Term-Limits
  • Capping federal government expenditures and taxes

Of course, there could be many others, all of which serve to empower the citizenry, the State, and restore balance in the Federal Government.

With this task, you can help. Only by actively engaging your representatives to promote this idea, and by encouraging your friends and family to do the same, can we can make leadership understand how necessary it is to convene. Additionally, let them know that you’ll hold them accountable come election time should they refuse.

This is a grassroots effort; a birth of a movement. We’ve reached the tipping point.