Monday, December 15, 2008

“A Constitutional Convention – there are no limitations – be careful what you wish for (Part Two)”

The only time there was a Constitutional Convention was in 1787 for the purpose of amending the Articles of Confederation. There was a requirement in the Articles of Confederation that all state legislatures had to consent to amendments but in the Convention the rules were ignored and the delegates wrote an entirely new system of government and declared that per the new Constitution's Article VII only 9 of the 13 states were needed to ratify it. The point is that at a Constitutional Convention anything can happen and any prior agreements agreed upon by states or limitations imposed by states as a condition for approval have no meaning. In other words, if there is a Constitutional Convention the one we have lived with for over two hundred years and which guarantees our individual rights can be scrapped and replaced by the people gathered at the convention with no recourse by the states or the people.

Article V of the Constitution is the basis for a Constitutional Convention:
“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.”

From the various contemporary commentaries on the original Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, it appears that the method to amend the proposed Constitution was a matter of great contention. Article v seems to have been adopted in its current wording almost as if the framers were simply exhausted.

Pay special attention to the second method of ratification: "or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress." This seems to allow the congress by a simple majority vote to propose either form of ratification: either by 3/4 of the state legislatures, or by 3/4 of "conventions" in the states.

Although Amendments to the Constitution until now originated in Congress and were circulated to the states for ratification, Article V says that an alternative to this procedure is for two thirds of the states to call for a Constitutional Convention at which the constitution may be amended or, indeed, rewritten. A call for a Constitutional Convention requires only 34 states; at present 32 states have issued a call by their legislators so if two more states approve and individual rights and freedom from government control of our lives could be ended. Is there any doubt that if Democrat socialists like Barack Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Shumer and Durbin have there way the government will expand and take over our lives even more and faster than the incremental encroachment we have been having the last fifty years?

A careful reading of Article V shows there is no provision for selecting attendees to the Convention. Do the states choose who will represent them, or does congress? Who picks the members of the "state conventions?" How are delegates selected? How are the rules governing these state conventions determined? Are the "state conventions" held in the individual states, or by delegates sent to the Constitutional Convention? Will the U.S. Supreme Court be the final arbiter of these questions?

The thirty-two states that have submitted applications to Congress to call a constitutional convention that would propose amendments providing for a balanced federal budget. These are as follows:

Alabama, applications enacted on August 14, 1975 and September 18, 1976, [the 1976 application was rescinded on April 28, 1988, and the 1975 application was rescinded on September 22, 1988];
Alaska, application enacted on Feb. 3, 1982;
Arizona, applications enacted on May 19, 1977 and March 9, 1979;
Arkansas, application enacted on Jan. 22, 1979;
Colorado, application enacted on March 29, 1978;
Delaware, application enacted on June 11, 1975;
Florida, applications enacted on May 13, 1976 and June 10, 1976 [both applications rescinded on May 5, 1988];
Georgia, application enacted on Jan. 19, 1976;
Idaho, application enacted on Feb. 21, 1979;
Indiana, applications enacted on March 7, 1957 and March 28, 1979;
Iowa, application enacted on Feb. 22, 1979;
Kansas, application enacted on April 26, 1978;
Louisiana, applications enacted on July 12, 1975, June 29, 1978, and July 9, 1979;
Maryland, application enacted on April 3, 1975;
Mississippi, application enacted on March 20, 1975;
Missouri, application enacted on May 26, 1983;
Nebraska, application enacted on Feb. 23, 1976;
Nevada, application enacted on March 12, 1979;
New Hampshire, application enacted on April 26, 1979;
New Mexico, application enacted on Feb. 16, 1978;
North Carolina, application enacted on Jan. 26, 1979;
North Dakota, application enacted on March 12, 1975;
Oklahoma, application enacted on April 15, 1976;
Oregon, application enacted on July 11, 1977;
Pennsylvania, application enacted on Nov. 9, 1978;
South Carolina, applications enacted on Feb. 12, 1976, Feb. 25, 1976 and May 16, 1978;
South Dakota, application enacted on Jan. 31, 1979;
Tennessee, application enacted on March 30, 1977;
Texas, application enacted May 31, 1977;
Utah, application enacted Feb. 1, 1979;
Virginia, application enacted on March 10, 1976; and
Wyoming, application enacted on Feb. 17, 1977.

It should be noted that absent from this list are institutional liberal states like New York and California. When they get around to realizing the possibilities afforded to them it’s likely they too will come on board.

Note also that the States of Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana, have rescinded their applications. However, under Article V of the Constitution, Congress must call a Constitutional Convention whenever 2/3 (or 34) of the states apply. The Constitution makes no provision for rescission. Furthermore, with the precedents of disallowing of the rescinding of votes for ratification, and the extending of deadlines, it seems like almost any outcome could be attained, including an entirely new Constitution. Some are of the belief that advocates of the convention are waiting to capture just two more states; they can then challenge the other states’ rescissions in the courts while going ahead with the Convention. Congress alone then decides whether state legislatures or state conventions ratify proposed amendments (see Article V above). Furthermore, with the precedents of disallowing of the rescinding of votes for ratification, and the extending of deadlines, it seems like almost any outcome could be attained, including an entirely new Constitution.

If there is no expiration date, all of the calls for a Constitutional Convention regarding a Balanced Budget that were initiated in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s are still valid. For example, the Twenty-seventh Amendment was proposed in 1789 and ratified more than 200 years later in 1992. On May 20, 1992, both houses of Congress adopted concurrent resolutions accepting the 27th Amendment’s unorthodox ratification process as having been successful and valid.

Certainly many of us want government constrained by a balanced budget. But attempting to accomplish this by means of a Constitutional Convention risks a revolutionary change in our form of government. So what may look like a good idea to Republican state legislators will make us all subject to the law of unintended consequences - at the very least insuring the U.S. will never have a balanced budget - while destroying what vestiges of liberty the government still allows.

The ultimate outcome will likely be a new constitution; one that would possibly eliminate the Article 1 restriction to the coinage of real money or even eliminate gun or property rights. So what may look like a good idea to the legislators driving this effort - all Republicans - will certainly make them prey to the law of unintended consequences - at the very least insuring the U.S. will never have a balanced budget - while destroying what vestiges of liberty the government still allows.

Despite the fact that these states premised their call for a Constitutional Convention on the desire to have an Amendment requiring a balanced budget, it should be clear by now that once a Constitutional Convention is in session any and all changes to the Constitution may be proposed an offered for passage, thereby revising the constitution in ways not anticipated by states calling for a convention.

What may be at risk if socialists and liberals dominate the Convention; very likely the Second Amendment, revision of the First Amendment; and abolish the 4th, 5th, and 10th Amendments, and the rest of the Bill of Rights. Additions could include the non-existent Separation of Church and State, the “right” to abortion and euthanasia, and much, much more. As WorldNet daily pointed out “Our uniquely and purely American concept of individual rights, endowed by our Creator, would be quickly set aside as an anachronistic relic of a bygone era; replaced by new ‘collective’ rights, awarded and enforced by government for the ‘common good.’”

Tom DeWeese, who runs the center and its education and grassroots work, told WorldNet Daily the possibilities [of a Constitutional Convention] stunned him. "In truth no restrictive language from any state can legally limit the scope or outcome of a Convention! Once a Convention is called, Congress determines how the delegates to the Convention are chosen. Once chosen, those Convention delegates possess more power than the U.S. Congress itself."

Remember too that Barack Obama will be president for at least four years. Obama believes the Constitution is flawed, because it fails to address wealth redistribution, and he says the Supreme Court should have intervened years ago to accomplish that. Obama said in a 2001 radio interview the Constitution is also flawed in that it does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth. The President-elect also said “… the Supreme Court neglected to consider … community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.”

Now that you have more information; do you really want a Constitutional convention?

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