Article V Convention of States

American-Flag1As a sidetrack from the political rat race currently underway to determine the next President of the United States, it is interesting that five states currently support holding a convention to amend or change the Constitution to limit the power of the three branches of the federal government.

There are two ways to amend the Constitution, two ways to ratify the amendment or amended change, resulting in four ways to permanently change the Constitution and ultimately change the nation in the most drastic way; it is defined in Article V.  Either two-thirds of both house of Congress or two-thirds of the state legislatures can put forth an amendment or new constitution; then three-quarters either way for final ratification.  When the latter approach is taken, citizens rally and get their state legislatures to pass legislation for an application for a Convention of States and submit to Congress.  In a fifty-state union, thirty-four (34) states (two-thirds) have to file applications in order for the convention to take place.  This procedure was part of the original Articles of Confederation from 1781 – 1788 that effectively made the original thirteen colonies function like sovereign nations of their own; the [national] government had no power to tax and intervene with questionable actions on the part of the colonies.  One could make a case that (slavery not withstanding), America was a freer nation under the Articles of Confederation than under the current Constitution; but the Articles of Confederation were an abysmal failure with no viable revenue stream to keep the national government operational.  Many historians and constitutional scholars believe that if the South won the Civil War, since they wanted a confederacy modeled after the failed system, they states in the CSA would ultimately have petitioned the Union to take them back.  One stark difference, the Articles of Confederation required all thirteen colonies to approve of a Convention of States and got all colonies on board in 1787 and went through the process.  Do ordain and established the Constitution.  With the requirements loosened from unanimous approval to two-thirds of the state, the current Constitution was vulnerable if nine of thirteen states did not approve; but the nation stuck to it.

Article V was designed with good intentions.  The idea of a Convention of States being enacted if the people believed checks and balances were not being enforced and if any or all of the branches of government became too big and powerful threatening the inalienable rights of the people.  But there are no specific rules governing ulterior motives, personnel, or protocol for a Convention of States.  The last attempt at a Convention of States took place in 1989 for the ratification of a Balance Budget Amendment.  There is no one in America that does not want to see a balanced budget, but etching it in stone in our Constitution may make the Federal Government unable to act in an emergency or force the rights of the people to be compromised to achieve a balance budget.  Thirteen states were on board, and in 1995 under the Newt Gingrich controlled House with Republican majorities in both houses, all but five states withdrew their application.

But no matter what the reason for a Convention of States, there is no way of knowing WHO will be representing each state and attending the convention.  There is no way to know if the convention is about a simple amendment or repealing and replacing the Constitution.  The “new” constitution may not include right to bear arms, right to free speech, freedom of religion, right to life, liberty, and property, and lots more.  In the greatest nation God ever allowed and the only constitution in the history of the world that is not only an owner’s manual for the operation of the government but absolute definitions of the rights of the people, a Convention of States is very risky business.  With the rise of Bernie Sanders’ socialism and the rise of Donald Trump and his supporters, this could be disastrous.

We can resolve the problems of big government and restore America to its lofty status by electing people with honesty and integrity committed to the Constitution, common sense politics, enforcing the Tenth Amendment (statement of States Rights), and by people age 18 not disenfranchised actively participating in the electoral process and taking a stand on key issues.  If freedom matters we should not tamper with the mechanisms to how a free country governs.  Let us drink from the fountains inherited to us from our Founding Fathers and always apply to our judgment in how we get things done.


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