Why I don’t support a Convention of States

Why I don’t support a Convention of States

Federal spending and deficits are attacking the Titanic, but a Convention of States would attack our lifeboat.

There’s a lot of buzz about how a Convention of States (CoS) to amend the Constitution is the perfect solution for an out-of-control Federal government. The ugly truth, however, is that a Convention of States wouldn’t fix anything and would in all likelihood make things much worse. Here’s why.

 

1. The current Constitution isn’t broken, just unenforced and neglected.

There’s nothing wrong with our current Constitution. Sure, things are currently out of control, but that’s because we’re not using the Constitution, not because it’s inadequate to deal with 21st-century problems. There are so many checks and balances built in that could fix our current situation. To name just a few:

  • Congress has the power of the purse. They can limit anything by cutting off spending. Specifically, the House has the power of the purse, and Republicans have controlled the House for the last several years. They are unwilling to use it.
  • Congress has the power to impeach the President. If he is overstepping his bounds in an unconstitutional usage of power (and he is), they should institute impeachment proceedings. That kind of dereliction of duty calls for it. They can also cut off spending for his projects, disband his agencies, and refuse to confirm his appointees.
  • Congress has tremendous power over the courts. Did you know that the Constitution doesn’t spell out what the Supreme Court should look like? That’s up to Congress. As Congressman Steve King said, “Constitutionally, Congress can reduce the Supreme Court to nothing more than Chief Justice Roberts sitting at a card table with a candle.” Or they could impeach the whole lot of them and start over.
  • Congress can also take issues out of the purview of the courts.
  • We the people can easily replace our legislators with people who will do our will.

The founding fathers gave Congress the most power of the three branches of government, because that is the branch most easily controlled by the people. These changes are within our reach, as the recent Republican wins demonstrate. Why won’t the Republicans utilize what the Constitution currently provides?

 

2. If the powers-that-be won’t follow the current Constitution, why would they follow an amended one?

The Founders were very clear that the Federal government’s jurisdiction was limited to the enumerated powers. Obviously, that hasn’t stopped Uncle Sam from doing whatever he wants. Why would amendments change that?

In order for amendments to make a difference, they have to be followed and enforced. If it’s not happening now, why would it happen then? This is a human nature problem, not a governmental structure problem.

 

3. The state governments are out of control as well as the federal government.

CoS proponents talk about how the states would determine who the delegates to the convention are, and would hold them accountable. Let’s be realistic, people. What state has its own government small, its spending responsible and reasonable, its debt paid, its corruption eliminated, and its people free?

Show me that state and I’ll move there!

If the state governments are out of control, corrupt, and living off the federal government’s bounty (and they are), what on earth possesses CoS proponents that those state governments will suddenly shape up and send good delegates with the interest of the people at heart, and will exercise proper accountability over them?

And if the people of the states are so out of touch and apathetic that they let their own state governments get that way, what makes CoS proponents think that the people would suddenly step up to the plate and make sure their state governments handle the convention delegates properly?

Get a grip, people! This isn’t fairyland!

 

4. What happened at the first Constitutional Convention would happen again.

The delegates to the first Constitutional Convention in 1787 were not authorized to develop a Constitution binding 13 independent states into a united country. The states had only authorized their delegates to revise the Articles of Confederation that bound the states to an alliance.

These were good men, who had the interests of their country at heart. They were some of the brightest minds our country has ever produced. They were men who had put their lives on the line for freedom from Britain, and hadn’t forgotten the value – and cost – of liberty.

Even then, they stepped outside their bounds and produced a Constitution that was unasked for, unauthorized, stripped the states of their independence, and created a Federal government with unprecedented power since our independence from Great Britain.

As it turned out, it was okay that time, because being wise, patriotic men with the good of their country at heart, they gave us the Constitution we needed.

Our country isn’t there now. We don’t have that level of wisdom, character, and patriotism anymore. The delegates today won’t be founding father class: they will be politician class.

And they will step outside their bounds just as those founding fathers did.

God help us if that happens.

 

5. The states won’t just authorize the good amendments.

According to CoS proponents, even if the Convention passes some ugly amendments, there’s no harm done because 3/4s of the states have to ratify them. Ratification would take 38 state legislatures OR 38 state conventions.

Is that impossible?

It would be challenging. But here’s where it gets tricky: who decides whether the convention or legislative method is used to ratify the amendments? Congress.

So picture this: there’s no way the state legislators are going to pass an amendment gutting the 2nd Amendment. So, Congress decides to go the state convention route. The powers-that-be in Washington work overtime to make sure the conventions are planned and controlled by their allies, the RINOs in the state government and GOP. Actually, the conventions would probably look something like the SCGOP Convention typically looks like: the convention outcome is planned out ahead of time, and ruthlessly controlled to ensure that desired outcome.

Maybe a state legislature would block a bad amendment, but do you think a state convention would do it just as easily? Not on your life.

Don’t laugh at this scenario, because it’s exactly how the Prohibition Amendment was repealed in 1933.

The temperance movement was still alive and well back then, and Washington politicians were concerned that the state legislators wouldn’t be able to buck the temperance supporters. (In plain English, Congress was concerned that the state legislators would listen to their constituents.) So, Congress opted to ratify the 18th Amendment by state conventions. It worked like magic and the rest was history.

And, of course, there’s always the possibility that enough state legislatures would indeed vote to pass bad amendments. See point #3.

 

The problem with our country is the citizens, not the government. 

The reason the Constitution isn’t followed is because none of us read it and know it, therefore we don’t enforce it.

There’s no quick fix for that.

This is a people problem, not a government problem. Rules, legislation, and government are checks and balances on human nature, they rein it in and limit it, but at the end of the day, if people refuse to do the right thing there is nothing anyone can do about it. You can’t fix human nature with legislation.

If we can just keep our Constitution intact, those checks and balances will be there waiting to be utilized as we step up to the plate and elect more and more legislators who understand the Constitution and are willing to shake things up. Our job is to quit looking for quick fixes and focus on plowing and planting for a long-term harvest.

Until then, the only thing standing between us and utter ruin right now is the most sublime example of representative government in the history of mankind: the U.S. Constitution adopted in 1789.

Let’s not sink our own lifeboat.

13 Responses to “Why I don’t support a Convention of States”

  1. Nice article. I Have similar concerns.

    • This author is mistaken on several counts and shows her lack of subject knowledge. The COS is spearheading getting the Convention under a common theme for all states involved – who make application. That theme is “To Limit the Power and Jurisdiction of the Federal Government, put restrictions on spending and term limits on elected officials.” NOTHING ELSE CAN BE DISCUSSED! Those are the Constitutional Rules.

      She is further insulting when she says there are no men of wisdom anymore who can make the right amendments! What an insult to those of us who can plainly see the “rule changes” needed to restore power usurpt from the States.

      And she is way wrong on why the Constitution isn’t followed. First of all, it largely is. Every Amendment made since its inception has been followed. Its the broad commerce clause and a few others that have been eroded by the Judiciary. One of the benefits of a COS is the tightening of ambiguous language that has been exploited for the past 100 years by career politicians and activist judges.

      Much like the NFL holds a rules committee meeting evry year, so to does the Constitution need to be revisited. The politicians have had 200+ years to find and exploit every loophole, every ambiguity.

      The author admits admiration for the Founders, and rightly so. Does she conclude that they were insufficiently wise to trust us with Article V? I think not. They would be appalled at the transformation of our Constitution and would be disappointed that WE have not demanded a Convention already!

      She is also wrong about the First Convention. The States sought to establish a federal Government. It was not spontaneous and out-of-control. She misses that fact and that fact makes the Fed beholding to the States. We own it and WE have the authority to make it serve responsibly.

      A concern about an out-of-control convention pales by comparison to OUR out-of-control government. We have no choice but to call a Convention – things in DC willonly get worse as time has proven. One need only look down the barrel of OUR $18TRILLION National Debt to know that. Time for We the People to take responsibility for OUR Government and OUR Country. To do otherwise will have an unconscionable effect on future generations of Americans. This Country was founded on bravery and it will take bravery to keep it secure. Those who choose to hide until it gets better are fools.

  2. Folks, please focus, throwing your hands in the air and not doing anything is what got us to this current problem in the first place. Our founding fathers put this second method into article V to amend the constitution for the very purpose of fixing greed and corruption because they had already witnessed that first hand. A successful Convention of States has the very real potential to undo amendments that have caused the greatest harm to the country. If not COS, then what? I trust decisions coming from 3/4’s or more of the states that one entity looking out for itself and trying to buy votes with other peoples money. Do the right thing (before it is too late) by your kids. If it works or if it does not work, do you want to be among the people who did not even try to fix the problem even when presented by the peaceful tool put in place by the founding fathers. I would like to be remembered that I was part of the solution or at least I tried. In truth, I do not care what is said about me, I want our children and grandchildren to experience free America rather than just another socialist government where it is a living hell to be the average citizen while the few government officials live extravagant of the backs of an oppressed people. Lets get busy helping or get out of the way of the ones that want to be part of the solution.

    • Mark,

      You need to join Convention of States project! http://WWW.CONVENTIONOFSTATES.COM

      Glad to hear your opinions – especially the part about doing nothing. This woman is delusional if she thinks we can suddenly just ‘start following the Constitution” and everything will take care of itself. The career politicians have had decades to manipulate ambiguities and loopholes. They will not comply with change unless it is forced by Amendments. We could sit around and sing “Kumbaya” and wait for it to get better – while the Country implodes! How much more debt, for example, should we tolerate until we place restrictions on Federal spending ( one popular amendment would mandate a balanced budget).

  3. “She is also wrong about the First Convention. The States sought to establish a federal Government. It was not spontaneous and out-of-control”.

    This is blatantly false. The delegates at the First Constitutional Conventiona had been given authority to revise the Articles of Confederation only, and they did, in fact, become wildly out-of-control and dramatically exceed their proper authority. They themsleves recogniozed this. Nevertheless, if today the States call a convention pursuant to the provisions of Article V, it is their right to do so. It is also their right to discuss and consider anything they choose to. Article V imposes no limits on what is to be discussed or considered.

  4. The choice of delegates to such a convention would be controlled by politicians.

    “States are free to develop their own selection process for choosing their delegates—properly called “commissioners.” Historically, the most common method used was an election by a joint session of both houses of the state legislature.”

    South Carolina has a corrupt legislature that is more interested in its own power than what is best for the citizens of the state. There is little transparency in how the state government operates. If this group of legislators sends its own members, or a delegation of its own choosing, to a convention of the states we cannot expect a positive outcome. South Carolina politicians love federal money. They will do nothing to jeopardize the flow of money to the state.

    Can the other 49 states be trusted to do the right thing?

  5. When we read the Constitution there little written…..There is much discussion on limitations and past Convention Calls and Rules…..But….little written in the actual Constitution. Just imagine If this time Congress and the States actually followed the Constitution then I don’t think supporters of Small Government would be happy. Plus the Constitution isn’t the issue…using it properly as intended is..

  6. The Supreme Court reading into the constitution as to what is justifiable and therefore increases the ability of the the federal government to spend money.

    Do I understand some of these arguments? Yes.

    The reality is the federal government is increasing spending and laws that force Americans to pay more to loan more through taxing.

    The states don’t have the ability to pull debt like the federal government does.

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