Tag Archives: Convention of the States

Article V Convention – Congress Will Not Act, So We Will

Growth-Of-United-States-Government-Debt

Government debt continues to amass at a dizzying pace. The federal government has displayed no discipline in reining it in and reestablishing a more sound fiscal footing for the future of the country. Our founding fathers, however, had the prescience to include in our Constitution the means whereby the states, and the people, could force the government to do what they have no appetite to do, to require a balanced budget.

Growth-Of-United-States-Government-DebtJust since 2006, federal government debt has shot from $6.7 trillion, to nearly $18 trillion. The largest segment of that spending occurred over the past six years with five years of deficits exceeding $1 trillion. Our government has been spending 60% more than it’s been collecting in tax receipts.

Those figures do not even begin to address our long-term debt due to non-discretionary entitlement programs. According to the General Accounting Office’s (GAO) 2013 annual report, unfunded debt including Social Security and Medicare is over $76 trillion, an increase of 8% over 2012 levels. Our national debt increases by an estimated $8.2 million per minute, and about $350 billion per month.

The GAO was explicit in its warning to the policy makers about our spending. They said in the very first paragraph, “GAO’s simulations continue to show escalating levels of debt that illustrate that the long-term fiscal outlook remains unsustainable.”

Budget-chartFormer Comptroller General of the United States, David M. Walker, has been sounding the clarion call of economic disaster for the nation if spending is not reined in, and politicians refuse to deal with fiscal realities of unabated spending. He describes America as a “sinking ship” in a sea of our own debt. He points out that, “The US ranks near the bottom of developed global economies in terms of financial stability and will stay there unless it addresses its burgeoning debt problems,” based on the Sovereign Fiscal Responsibility Index.

Something must be done before the dollar and our entire economic system collapses entirely due to our calamitous accumulation of debt. And the solution could be nestled in Article V of the Constitution. That Article declares how the document can be amended.

Debt-Ceiling-Cartoon“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.”

That second option, referred to as an Article V Convention, or Convention of the States, has never been utilized. It’s been attempted before, but never to fruition. It was added to the document after four earlier attempts at language that would have opened the door to a full constitutional convention. The precise and narrow limitations of an Article V convention only allows for adoption of amendments, not a complete “con con” which could facilitate mischief in rewriting our founding document. In Federalist Paper 43 James Madison explained, “It guards equally against that extreme facility, which would render the Constitution too mutable.”

cg536b7ae12610aThis is validated by Nick Dranias, Director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Constitutional Government, who has said, “Despite claims made to the contrary, the truth is that Article V does not provide authority for a foundational constitutional convention. The Founders specifically and repeatedly rejected efforts to substitute the current Article V language to allow for a foundational constitutional convention to be called.”

Currently there are active efforts to call an Article V Convention for at least two major issues: a Balanced Budget Amendment, and a National Debt Relief Amendment. Both are oriented toward forcing the federal government to get its fiscal house in order. The latter would disallow congress from increasing the federal debt without a majority of states approving an increase in the debt limit.

In order for such a convention to be convened, two-thirds of the states must pass resolutions calling for it, and then upon adoption of the specific amendments at the convention, three-fourths of the states must ratify. Therein lies the assurance that only viable and constitutionally sound amendments would emerge from such a convention.

Every citizen, and every state in the union has a stake in the solvency and fiscal stability of the nation, and should be actively embracing and supporting the Article V Convention process for these key issues. Hopefully an amendment will then be advanced for establishing term limits on congress, as well. Since Washington will not lead on these critical issues, it’s time for the people, and the states, to do so.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

COS Proposes Bizarre Solution to rein in the U.S. Supreme Court

US Supreme Court

Constitutional Convention advocates recommend a fundamental transformation of the U.S. Supreme Court by modeling it after the European International Court on Human Rights (ECHR).

Convention of the States National Director, Michael Farris recommends, “If the Supreme Court loves their national law, we’ll fix them this way.” Farris continues that we turn the Court into a 50-judge panel serving 8-year terms. This models the ECHR that appoints 46 judges; one for each member nations. Farris says that the Supreme Court reviews things on paper, because the “important stuff is done on paper anyway.” He continues, “If you don’t like their decision, you don’t like who they are, you get a new one.”

The ECHR can change national law through influencing change through “soft law”. According to University of Law, if national law conflicts with international law, the ECHR provides the ability for lawyers to pressure the national legislators to change their laws, aligning them with international law.
While we may not all agree with all the decisions of our highest Court, to fundamentally transform our U.S. Supreme Court into a system incapable of holding a sustained view and more difficult to overcome political pressure is certainly no improvement.

In other words, the rulings placed on the U.S. Supreme Court will change our laws to reflect international law…not constrain politicians and lawyers to the Constitution. The Supreme Court will become a token court, even more subjective to political pressures. Under the ECHR model, individuals, corporations, local, state and federal government brought before the court may in fact be even less constitutional.

Constructing a Supreme Court as such creates a roving system, making the U.S. Supreme Court extremely political. The courts authority will be wrapped in international bureaucracy and political framework and departs even farther from protecting individual rights and interpretation of the Constitution. This dilutes the balance of power, politicizes the U.S. Supreme Court and injects an international bureaucracy into our court system.

Exactly what the founders attempted to avoid.

Here are two questions that should be asked.

  • Why promote the European Court of Human Rights as the Supreme Court model for our justice system?
  • How does a roving Supreme Court justice system fix the problem of an overreaching government?
  • Convention of the States…a Refute to a Runaway Convention

    Second Amendment

    Many people are jumping on the Constitutional Convention bandwagon. I wanted to address a couple of issues with Michael Farris’ latest article about the Runaway Convention Myth.

    In his article titled “Can We Trust the Constitution? Answering the Runaway Convention Myth”, he states that opponents to a Constitutional Convention claim two arguments, they are 1) “the delegates were instructed to merely amend the Articles of Confederation, but they wrote a whole new document and 2) The ratification process was improperly changed from 13 state legislatures to 9 state ratification conventions.

    First, let’s straighten something out, Michael Farris should know better than the U.S. Constitution is the “supreme Law of the Land”…not the Supreme Law of the Land. The Declaration of the Independence references the “Supreme Judge of the world…” and our U.S. Constitution refers to the Supreme Court as the “supreme Court”. Our founders understood the limits of a manmade Constitution and the existence of a “higher law”.

    Being the founder of a religious college, hopefully there’s no further explanation needed but it does explain why he’d support a Convention of the States in controlling the federal government. The understanding that there is a higher law is the reason there’s opposition to a Constitutional Convention.

    You cannot control the actions or morals of individuals through manmade law.

    According to the article, the delegates for both the Constitutional Convention and State ratifications conventions were selected by popular vote…which meant that state legislatures had no say in calling, conducting or ratifying our current Constitution. The claims were that they were instructed but were they instructed? That we are merely saying is that the delegates went to the convention and created a whole new document. Not sure if George Washington, Alexander Hamilton or Benjamin Franklin, necessarily needed direction in how to conduct the convention, they were elected by popular vote.

    Whereas the Articles of Confederation may not have given the Continental Congress authority to “call” a convention, the U.S. Constitution does.

    The fact that the number of states to ratify the Constitution was changed from 13 to 9 is the point.

    We trust the Constitution; we don’t trust the current political process to fix a document that has endured centuries.

    As Michael Farris is in good company with Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she wishes to change the Constitution also.

    Convention of the States Does Not Exist in Article V – Part 2

    Using the Constitution: Article V Convention Counter Argument

    Proponents of an Article V Convention are in panic mode. They demand that something be done immediately to resolve our current crisis and it must be done soon.

    So, they have rebranded the original Constitutional Convention of 2011, to an Article V Convention and now, its called a “Convention of the States”. This movement has created a George Orwell’s “1984” feel to it as the government is at constant war, the people are fed propaganda but the opposition is our own…federal government.

    The theme is…let’s use the Constitution to reign in government but is it the government who has changed. Or society whose morals have been shaped by atheist universities. …but I digress. Constitutions have been used to restrain “the People” such as the Socialist Constitution of North Korea, Red China or Russia. Could we end up with a Socialist Constitution, about as much as we could get something fixed through a bunch of lawyers and politicians restructuring our founding document.

    As proponents for a Convention of the States cheer for state government to come in and save the day. Let’s analysis Article V. It’s only 143 words.

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the applications 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.”

    THE U.S. CONSTITUTION EMPOWERS THE STATES to conduct a “Convention of the States”. Article V empowers the states with two responsibilities; States may apply for a convention and ratify any proposed amendments. Proponents say that the founders intended for the convention process to bypass Congress or empower the states but it does not such thing for a so called “Convention of the State”.

    States Control the Convention. Some states are proposing laws in hopes of controlling their delegates. Once the states submit their applications, they cannot control the convention process. Proponents are trying to convince State legislatures they can control delegates with jail sentences or removal from the convention but again, they are just forfeiting their voice in this convention. If the convention moves from the appointed agenda, the only thing an entity outside the convention can do is remove it’s voice from the convention.

    Congress calls the Convention . “The Congress…shall propose amendments” or “shall call a convention for proposing amendments” Some believe that States can call a Convention upon application of two-thirds of the states but that is not the case. The true case is that upon two-thirds of both “houses” or upon application of two-thirds of the several states, “The Congress” proposes amendments or calls a convention.

    “Shall be part of this Constitution” Our Constitution was devised from the Articles of Confederation. When the founder’s entered the Convention, States needed to unanimously ratify proposals. We don’t need the argument of delegates changing their mandate, as the New York delegates did. Once they were finished, three-fourths of the States were needed to ratify a new Constitution…the other three states either ratified or were without a country. What’s to say that a new ratification process couldn’t be proposed in a new Constitution? They could lower ratification to 26 states, leaving the remaining 24 without a nation, then the 24 would be with a massive debt and the old government.

    Hopefully, you’ll see this whole dilemma has changed about having reign in the federal government by using the Constitution, the “supreme Law of the Land” as the authoritative foundation. While our nation is in internal conflict, it is not the time to open up the Constitution for debate. …or attempt to use a document to control behavior. We might wanna be careful because that behavior they claim they want to change…may be “the Peoples”

    Convention of the States Does Not Exist in Article V – Part I

    Defend the Constitution

    No need to go far to see what’s wrong with our nation, all you need to do is watch how Article V of the Constitution is being implemented. All you need is to read Article V of the U.S. Constitution then refer to those calling for an Article V Convention, Convention of the States and a Constitutional Convention.

    We do not need a U.S. Constitutional Convention. There is a push for States to apply for a U.S. Constitutional Convention to either propose Constitutional Amendments or restructure our government. I wish to identify the dangers of such a Convention using only Article V of the Constitution. Hopefully, this will convince you to oppose any type of U.S. Constitutional Convention.

    The United States Constitution has endured 226 years of trials and tribulations as the supreme Law of the Land. Our ancestors fought in civil wars, two World Wars, the Great Depression, many recessions, along with many other atrocities to bring our country to where it is today. Even though they endured the ages, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the foundation of our law system and have propelled all of our lives to new heights. It has produced the highest number of Nobel winners, medical, business and technological advances known to man but there are some who are calling for a convention.

    A U.S. Constitutional Convention is being called different names. American Legislative Executive Council (also known as ALEC) advocates for an “Article V Convention” while Mark Levin encourages a “Convention of the States”. No matter what you call it, the basis of these conventions is Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

    States are empowered with two powers according to the U.S. Constitution, Article V. They shall apply for a convention and ratify proposed amendments. States cannot control it or call a convention. It’s questionable whether delegates can be controlled as many state legislatures are proposing and by no means can the agenda be controlled. Once the two-thirds of the state apply, Congress calls the convention but no one knows where it will go from there.

    Constitutional Amendments proposed for this convention run the gamete. Amendments include a balance budget amendment, term limits, Supreme Court, eminent domain and even “Citizens United.” Whether your issue is with the budget, property rights or corporatism, there’s bound to be an amendment appealing to gain your support in your state applying for a U.S. Constitutional convention.

    Hopefully, you, as do I, oppose a U.S. Constitutional Convention but if you are not convinced, attached is further analysis. Professor Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor, explains the justification of the dangers of a Convention.