The topic of whether to support a Constitutional Convention or not is very controversial. Recently I received the following email from the John Birch Society. The email provided a short history of the Article V convention movement; information that frequently is not shared. The email also provided reasons that the JBS feels allowing a Constitutional Convention could do irreparable harm to the Constitution. Please consider reading this article as it is critical that each American develops a clear understanding of the possible gains and risks of this process.
A Fairy Tale That Could Destroy Our Nation:
Three Reasons to Oppose All State Article V Convention Applications
There’s a very important issue that is becoming more and more prominent in state legislatures in recent years. It goes by several names, such as an Article V convention, a constitutional convention (often abbreviated as a Con-Con), a convention of the states, or a convention for proposing amendments. All of these terms refer to a provision in Article V of the U.S. Constitution whereby if two-thirds of the states apply to Congress for a national convention for proposing amendments, then Congress shall call such a convention.
The stakes are very high with this Article V convention issue! Will we preserve and restore the Constitution that has secured our rights for over two centuries? Or, will we subject it to the Article V convention process and risk harmful changes that very well could end our heritage of freedom and prosperity?
First, we’ll review the history of the Article V convention movement. Then, we’ll discuss the three reasons why we should oppose all Article V convention applications. Click on the graphic at left for more resources regarding this issue.
An Article V convention is the second method provided in the Constitution for proposing amendments. The first method is for both Houses of Congress to approve a proposed amendment by at least a two-thirds vote. Once an amendment is proposed by either method, Article V prescribes that such a proposed amendment be sent to the states for ratification, with Congress having the option to mandate ratification by either the state legislatures or by special state conventions. In either case, three-fourths of the states must ratify a proposed amendment before it can be added to the Constitution.
Twenty-seven amendments have been added to the Constitution since 1787. All of them have been added via the first method (congressional proposal), and none have been added by the second method (convention proposal).
Although there have been sporadic applications from states for an Article V constitutional convention ever since the early days of our constitutional republic, there was a real flurry of applications to hold a convention for proposing a balanced budget amendment (BBA) in the 1970s and early 1980s. By the time that there were 32 state BBA convention applications (two short of the required two-thirds), a reaction occurred in the 1980s that first stalled the BBA convention movement at 32 states, then began influencing states to rescind (take back) their BBA convention applications, based on a well-founded fear that such a convention could become a “runaway convention” that could lead to harmful changes in the Constitution.
By 2011, sixteen states had rescinded their BBA convention applications, leaving only sixteen states with “live” BBA convention applications. However, in recent years some states that had rescinded their applications have reapplied for a BBA convention, and some new states have approved BBA convention applications, giving us a current total of 24 states with “live” BBA convention applications.
There are also other initiatives to apply for an Article V convention, such as for proposing amendments to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, or for proposing an amendment to limit the terms of congressmen, or for proposing an amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision concerning corporate campaign donations, etc.
Now, let’s get back to the three reasons why we must oppose all Article V convention applications at this time in our nation’s history. (For a fuller discussion of the three reasons, read “A Fairy Tale That Could Destroy Our Nation.”)
1. The Constitution is not the problem.
We must correct all those Article V convention proponents who constantly refer to the need to rein in our “out-of-control” government. What we are actually facing is an “out-of-compliance-with-the-Constitution” government. Therefore, the Constitution is not the problem, so changing the Constitution with an Article V convention is not the solution. The only true solution, as daunting as it may appear, is a large-scale, grassroots, constitutional education program that would inform the electorate sufficiently to demand adherence to the Constitution from their representatives. Without such an informed electorate, no form of constitution, whether our current Constitution, a revised Constitution, or a completely rewritten constitution, will work.
2. All Article V conventions would have the inherent power to be runaway conventions.
To their great credit, most state legislators have voted down most Article V convention applications over the past thirty years, based on their belief that such a convention could easily become a “runaway convention” that could make harmful changes to the Constitution. In truth, all Article V conventions would have the inherent power to be “runaway conventions” that could propose harmful revisions to the Constitution as well as provide for new methods for ratification that would increase the likelihood that the harmful revisions would be adopted.
Such conventions would consolidate the inherent powers of a free people, whose right “to alter or abolish” our government is described in the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Based on this right as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence coupled with the precedent of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, an Article V constitutional convention would therefore be empowered to rewrite the Constitution without any limit on its action. In this sense such a convention would be superior to Congress, the Executive Branch, and Supreme Court, or any state legislature as well.
3. An Article V convention would enable powerful special interests to revise the Constitution in their favor.
A Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted April 15-16, 2014 found that 67% “view the federal government today as a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests.” What this poll result indicates is that about two-thirds of likely voters believe that special interests now control our federal government.
Which is to say that it is a fairly widely shared belief that our government is controlled by powerful special interest groups, such as Big Business, Big Labor, Big News Media, the Education Establishment, Foundations, Internationalist Foreign Policy Organizations, Big Political Donors, etc. It is these special interest groups that over the last century or so have influenced public officials to usurp powers not granted in the Constitution.
Proponents of an Article V convention assure us that delegates appointed by state legislatures can propose amendments, the amendments can be ratified by the states, and the resulting amendments will miraculously rein in our “out-of-control” federal government. This starry-eyed scenario is a major fairy tale. Not only do special interests have working control over the federal government, they also have powerful influence over state legislatures. The power elites mentioned above have learned how to elect and influence large numbers of federal and state legislators a very long time ago. You don’t believe it? Just try working with other grassroots activists to stop the special interests’ Common Core education standards juggernaut in your state, and see how far you get! For a striking example of the pervasive influence of special interests on state legislatures, read “Not-so-smart ALEC,” posted by TheNewAmerican.com, April 21, 2014.
Since powerful special interest groups have such extensive influence over the federal and state levels of government, the most likely result of one or more Article V conventions would be changes in the Constitution that legitimize the myriad usurpations of power that have already taken place in the service of the special interests. This would make it all the harder for We the People to ever regain control of the government from the special interests and secure our God-given rights.
What is absolutely necessary is to energize and inform enough citizens to turn this situation around. In order to secure our freedom, we must create an informed electorate that will roll back the power of the special interests by electing federal and state representatives who will enforce the Constitution as originally intended by the Founding Fathers.
The solution is restoration of the Constitution’s limitations on the federal government, not Article V conventions that all too likely would enable special interests to rewrite the Constitution in their favor.
We can’t allow an unrealistic fairy tale solution to the very real problem of our out-of-compliance-with-the-Constitution government to lead to the sacrifice of the Constitution on the alter of the special interests that have created the problem in the first place.
Please send a prewritten, editable message to your state representative(s) and senator in opposition to all Article V convention applications. Be sure to personalize your message for maximum impact.
Phone calls can also be very effective, and of course the most effective way to educate your state legislators is by making personal visits to their offices. Click here for contact information.
Your Friends at The John Birch Society