Thereâ€™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 wouldnâ€™t fix anything and would in all likelihood make things much worse. Hereâ€™s why.
1. The current Constitution isnâ€™t broken, just unenforced and neglected.
Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with our current Constitution. Sure, things are currently out of control, but thatâ€™s because weâ€™re not using the Constitution, not because itâ€™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 alsoÂ cut off spending for his projects, disbandÂ his agencies, and refuse to confirm his appointees.
- Congress has tremendous power over the courts. Did you know that the Constitution doesnâ€™t spell out what the Supreme Court should look like? Thatâ€™s up to Congress. As Congressman Steve King said, â€œConstitutionally, Congress can reduce the Supreme Court to nothing more than Chief Justice Roberts sitting at a card table with a candle.â€ 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 wonâ€™t the RepublicansÂ utilize what the Constitution currently provides?
2. If the powers-that-be wonâ€™t follow the current Constitution, why would they follow an amended one?
The Founders were very clear that the Federal governmentâ€™s jurisdiction was limited to the enumerated powers. Obviously, that hasnâ€™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 itâ€™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. Letâ€™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 Iâ€™ll move there!
If the state governments are out of control, corrupt, and living off the federal governmentâ€™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 isnâ€™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 hadnâ€™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 isnâ€™t there now. We donâ€™t have that level of wisdom, character, and patriotism anymore. The delegates today wonâ€™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 wonâ€™t just authorize the good amendments.
According to CoS proponents, even if the Convention passes some ugly amendments, thereâ€™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 hereâ€™s where it gets tricky: who decides whether the convention or legislative method is used to ratify the amendments? Congress.
So picture this: thereâ€™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.
Donâ€™t laugh at this scenario, because itâ€™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 wouldnâ€™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, thereâ€™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.Â
The reason the Constitution isnâ€™t followed is because none of us read it and know it, therefore we donâ€™t enforce it.
Thereâ€™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 canâ€™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.Â Our job isÂ 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.
Letâ€™s not sink our own lifeboat.