Beware the Article V Convention – No Quick-Fix
Yes, there are a lot of problems, and they need to be fixed. However, I hope you have begun to see how dangerous some radical ideas can be when we just dive right in without examination. Throwing radical ideas at our problems will never be an answer when the solutions provided could be more dangerous than the problems we face. That would be entirely counterproductive. We should be methodical, meticulous, and strategic.
There has been a lot of talk recently about trying to have a Constitutional Convention. Some people are intrigued by this, and others simply have questions about what it could mean. Still, some are very much against the idea altogether. So let us discuss the prospects of an Article V Convention.
A constitutional convention is a gathering to write a new constitution or revise an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create a political unit’s first Constitution or to replace an existing constitution entirely. In the United States, we can have one of these. It is called an Article V (Five) Convention or Amendments Convention. It is one of two procedures for proposing amendments to the United States Constitution described in Article Five of the Constitution – hence the name. Of course, the other method is a vote by two-thirds of each house of congress – which is often difficult to get.
There are a few things people fantasize about regarding an Article V Convention. They envision the people coming together and hashing out things like they did during the first convention. These would be great people, strong leaders from each state. These would be people with our best interests in heart and mind. These people would ultimately fix all of our problems and ensure that the government from here on out would be restricted for the betterment of the people.
These fantasies are highly inaccurate, and I believe that the people should resist an Article V Convention at all costs – including and up to war. To explain this, I need you to be completely open to the ideas I am about to demonstrate. I need you to imagine the WORST case scenario, not the best-case. This is vital, considering what the Article V Convention can really do.
Any research on the subject will show a fairly high number of legal scholars who have warned that a constitutional convention could open the Constitution to radical and harmful changes. This is very true. In fact, the late Justice Antonin Scalia has said, “I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. Whoa! Who knows what would come out of it? (Coyle, 2014)” Considering the Act of 1871, The Federal Reserve Act, The Patriot Act (to name a few), and of course, wonderful creations such as the Internal Revenue Service, FEMA, and the DHS, I, too, worry about the outcome when we consider the opportunity for corruption behind closed doors.
Taking it a bit further, former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Warren Burger, wrote in 1988: “[T]here is no way to effectively limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey. After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda (Burger, 1988).”
The John Birch Society recently explained: The basic argument against convening an Article V constitutional convention is that based on the right of the sovereign People in convention to alter their government whenever it fails to secure our rights (as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence), an Article V constitutional convention could not be limited as to what amendments might be proposed, and therefore could lead to the proposal and ratification of dangerous alterations to the Constitution. The Article V requirement that three-fourths of the states must ratify any new amendment would not necessarily protect us from harmful amendments because, just as our original Constitutional Convention did in 1787, any new constitutional convention could prescribe an entirely new ratification procedure, such as holding a national referendum (JBS, 2017).
Consider the following: A convention could write its own rules and do what it wants. A convention could set its own agenda, possibly influenced by powerful interest groups and corporations. A convention could choose a new ratification process completely void of constitutional oversight. Once it starts, no other body, not even the courts, has clear authority over the convention. Finally, who do you think would represent your state in this convention? Do you trust them?
The stakes are way too high to risk exposing our Constitution and freedoms to the interests of greedy corporations, hungry banks, and special interests. The stakes are way too high to risk exposing unalienable rights to further restrictions by those who seek more power. And the stakes are way too high to allow those who have put us here in the first place to be the ones who hold such a convention.
Imagine private ownership of firearms being completely outlawed. Imagine speech in opposition to the government being illegal. Imagine religion or certain types of healthcare being restricted or forced upon you. Imagine a greater degree of forced redistribution of wealth. Imagine forced participation in a party of the government’s choosing or, worse, the complete elimination of opposing parties. Any of these things (or even worse) could all be presented with a simple Article V Convention, and there would be no legal or Constitutional way for the people to stop it or reverse what came out of it.
Art Thompson, the CEO of The John Birch Society, wants you to ponder the following eight questions:
- Does the congress or the administration follow the Constitution now?
- If changes were made for the better, why would they follow that? Especially when it takes less to get a vote to balance a budget — a simple majority vs. two-thirds?
- Do you believe that no matter how the “convention” was held — governors or elected/appointed delegates — that those in control would rise to the level of men such as Founders Washington and Madison?
- Do you believe that no matter what the means to convene the convention, that a sizeable contingent of delegates would be at the level of Gore or Obama?
- (My Personal Favorite) Ask yourself, if now we are NOT electing constitutionalists to office from our area, what makes anyone think that we will SEND constitutionalists to any meeting?
- Do you want a balanced budget?
- Are you willing to pay for it?
- Is the Constitution flawed?
I talked about Marbury v. Madison earlier. I think it is important for us to fully understand this, so let me touch on this again. Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137; 2 L. Ed. 60 states clearly that “Certainly all those who have framed written constitutions contemplate them as forming the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and consequently, the theory of every such government must be, that an act of the legislature, repugnant to the constitution, is void.“
Still, these repeated unconstitutional acts continue – not because the Constitution fails to protect itself, but instead because the people who have sworn an oath to protect it and those who have sworn their allegiance to it have failed to do so. Give this some serious thought for just a minute. Based on everything we know about government today… based on every broken promise we have ever been given… based on everything we know about the partisan situation before us… do we REALLY see an Article V Convention ending as a “best case” scenario?
If you still believe that the “best case” can exist with this government, then perhaps that explains why congress can get a 10% approval rating and a 90% re-election rate. As for me, I would rather look at this through the eyes of reason. If we want to fix our problems, then perhaps we should figure out a way to enforce what we already have and what is currently NOT being followed and eliminate unconstitutional laws that should not be enforced in the first place. Perhaps we should try that before allowing others to alter or perhaps contort laws into something much worse. Do not blow up the house because the dog urinated on the carpet; train the dog instead.