THE TIME IS NOW FOR A CONVENTION OF STATES
By Bradley A. Hofmann (KPTP Vice-President and Communications Chair)
Opinion Editorials Disclaimer: The views expressed by contributing authors may or may not reflect the official positions of the Kitsap Patriots Tea Party. We believe in free, responsible speech and welcome hearing the differing viewpoints of our members.
The Convention of States movement is gaining increasing attraction nationwide with 36 state legislatures introducing legislation in 2015. Several prominent conservatives have endorsed the project, including Sarah Palin, Allen West, and Glenn Beck. David Barton of WallBuilders wrote a lengthy defense. The movement was spurred by the release of Mark Levin’s book “The Liberty Amendments“. An organization headed by Michael Farris and Mark Meckler, Convention of States Project, is leading the charge.
What is a Convention of States?:
During the Constitutional Convention, delegate George Mason demanded that the states be provided a mode of recourse against abuses of the federal government:
Colonel Mason thought the plan of amending the Constitution exceptionable and dangerous. As the proposing of amendments is in both the modes to depend, in the first immediately, and in the second ultimately, on Congress, no amendments of the proper kind, would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case. – Madison’s Notes Sept.15, 1787
Thanks to Mason, the states were granted the ability to amend the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton confirms this in Federalist 43:
[The Constitution], moreover, equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the amendment of errors…
Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides two means of proposing amendments to the Constitution: 1) initiated by Congress, 2) initiated by the states collectively.
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…
– U.S. Constitution, Article V [Emphasis Added]
Throughout our early history, states held “conventions” (we would call “meetings”) to discuss important matters. Article V provides that when 2/3 of the states formally agree on the same subject matter, one of these “conventions”/”meetings”, aka “convention of states”, may be held in which state delegates (under specific orders of their state legislature) draft amendments to the Constitution. The agreed upon amendment(s) is/are sent to all the states, of which 3/4 must concur just like a congressional amendment, for ratification.
Why is a Convention of States Needed:
The federal government is completely out of control with incessant borrowing, spending, corruption, seizing of more & more power, and other shenanigans too numerous to list. As Mark Levin has astutely noted, the states who gave birth to the federal government now work at its behest. With the accumulation of decision-making authority in Washington, D.C., the local and state governments closest to you are stripped of their power to represent you.
Other proposed solutions to the problems we face don’t get to the core of the problem or provide any lasting impact.
- Elect More Republicans:
Many tend to remain focused on elections. It is highly important that we place more conservatives into federal offices; however, 1) we have repeatedly observed that Congress (even controlled by Republicans) won’t reform themselves, and 2) elections don’t address the judiciary, bureaucracy, or the federal vs state power balance. Human nature being constant, it is probable that party leadership and the culture of Washington, D.C. will not permit any significant reductions in the size & scope of government no matter who we send to Congress. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court continues to over-reach its bounds of jurisprudence as exemplified in recent cases (e.g. Obamacare, Same Sex Marriage) and the entrenched bureaucracy continues to stifle freedom, unaffected by electoral consequences due to being protected by Supreme Court precedent (see Humphrey’s v. United States). A Convention of States imposes restraints on the federal government regardless of party control and addresses justices & bureaucrats of whom your representative has no control.
Others have called for nullification to resist federal over-reach. This, too, has its downside. Nullification is in direct opposition to the rule of law which no united nation can maintain for long, for it seeks to protect sovereign rights (although it may be rightfully grounded) by acting outside of the constitutional construct it is attempting to defend. A Convention of States is a lawful, Constitutional approach to restore the Constitution on a more permanent basis. Articles “Is ‘Nullification’ the Answer?” and “What, Exactly Does ‘Nullification’ Mean?” provide further discussion.
Others say it is too late to do anything – we are too far gone – time to take up arms. They may be correct; we have reached (and possibly gone over) a dangerous tipping point. With a positive mindset and faith in God, I choose to try the peaceful mechanism our Founders left for us in such a situation … a Convention of States. If it is believed that the Constitution has been destroyed to such a degree that armed revolt is necessary, then what further harm could be done by at least trying first to repair it peacefully with a Convention of States?
The time is now with most state legislatures in conservative hands. The states can force the feds to balance the budget, term limit federal officials, limit the bureaucracy, and overturn judicial decisions, among others.
- The Convention Will Run Away
Opponents of the project fear a runaway Constitutional Convention (or “ConCon”) in which delegates will create an entirely new constitution or dramatically damage our existing Constitution. First, let’s correct the terminology: it is a “Convention of States”, not a “constitutional convention” as explained above. The article “Why a Convention of States is Safe” refutes the concept of a runaway convention: 1) Revocable delegates are limited to the scope provided for by their state, 2) anything produced by the convention must be ratified by 3/4 of the states, 3) the process is secured by legal precedent, and 4) there is no history of runaway conventions in America. Early America held conventions regularly and legally (including the Constitutional Convention which did not overstep the bounds set by the states, a common fallacious point by opponents). As Mark Levin argues, the federal government is a runaway constitutional convention everyday in Congress, the executive, the bureaucracy, and judiciary. A Convention of States halts this ongoing lawlessness.
- There Are Bad State Legislators
Some point out that, in states like Washington, there are state legislators who are just as harmful as federal officials. I sympathize with this point resulting from email correspondence with Representative Drew Hansen (D-23rd) who sought to utilize the Article V process, using seemingly innocuous populist language, to limit free speech:
“Aha!”, you may say, “a Convention of States could be used to take away our first or second amendment rights.” However, I counter that such representatives of ill-will have limited power. Only the delegate(s) sent by the state have influence at the convention and are under direct orders by state law. For each proposed amendment, there is one vote per state. Being that 2/3 of the states must agree on a common purpose just to convene, 3/4 of the states must ultimately ratify, and most state legislatures as a whole nationwide are conservative, fringe elements may be easily rejected. The choice presented is either continue enduring the shredding of the Constitution by unaccountable federal officials or use elected representatives who we can more readily influence to restore the Constitution via a Convention of States.
- Don’t Change the Constitution, Just Follow It
Some argue that we don’t need constitutional fixes. The Constitution is fine the way it is. Why are you trying to change it? The problem is that the original constitutional framework and balance of power has been broken. The Convention of States Project is seeking to repair the constitutional foundation of our republic. The 17th Amendment removed state representation in Congress, the administrative state has been codified & judicially sanctioned, and the original meaning of the Constitution has been stretched beyond its intent (e.g. Commerce Clause expanded to shut down commerce and Necessary & Proper Clause expanded to justify anything). A Convention of States can clarify definitions to meet original intent and strike the proper balance between federal and state power.
The “Convention of States” website provides answers to other Frequently Asked Questions and other Objections. For a 24-part discussion on many aspects of the Article V process, view a series posted at TheRightScoop.
We are daily inundated with attacks on our liberty, our paycheck, our culture, and our kids’ future by the self-proclaimed elite operating the Leviathan from upon high. Placing themselves as gods over us serfs, they push out of society the God who gave us our rights and remove respect for objective truth that permits a just, moral people to flourish. We have a remedy to once again enshrine our values in the pillars of the Constitution in a legal, constitutional, peaceful means consistent with who we are as Americans and children of God.
How to Get Involved:
- Sign up at the Convention of States website, sign the petition, and volunteer
- Write your state legislators (WA House … WA Senate)
- Tweet using the hashtag #COSProject on Twitter
Example Amendments (from Mark Levin’s “Liberty Amendments”):
[Photo Credits: https://twitter.com/jlrowe]