An Article V Convention Is A Bad And Potentially Dangerous Idea

Once again, Jim LeMunyon and others in the General Assembly are pushing for Virginia to adopt a call for a Constitutional Convention, as detailed in Article V of the Constitution. There is even a large group pushing for such a thing, calling them themselves the “Convention of the States”, no doubt playing on conservatives’ longstanding support of federalism, a concept long since abandoned by the American left, except when (rarely) support for it temporarily suits their purposes.

The current push for an Article V convention gets a lot of its impetus from ALEC, which has a somewhat conservative reputation. Their point man on this issue is Robert Natelson, who purports to be the foremost expert on the legal and Constitutional issues involved. He makes the claim that an Article V convention can be restricted in its scope or methods. Further, he claims that Congress cannot alter the rules of the convention. Both assertions, in point of fact, are not true.

The truth is that there is simply no way to predict what rules Congress may or may not insist on for the convention. But even if we do get the “one state, one vote” espoused by the people pushing the convention, there is no method to effectively limit the scope of the convention, and no guarantee that a convention ostensibly called for the purposes of say, a balanced budget amendment, doesn’t end up repealing, say, the Second and Tenth Amendments. There is but one example of such a convention in American history, and it certainly exceeded its assigned duties, to say the least.

Just say NO to an Article V convention.


5 thoughts on “An Article V Convention Is A Bad And Potentially Dangerous Idea

    1. So… ‘utter nonsense’, Del. Lingamfelter. Do you have anything to refute the post other than a link to the CoS site?

      Any way to guarantee that Congress won’t interfere with how the convention is set up, how votes are apportioned, and you get the ‘one state, one vote’ method?

      Madison addressed methods of trying to rein in a runaway train of a federal government like we have now in the Federalist Papers (44-46), and not once did he recommend an Article V convention.

      There is absolutely NO way to limit the scope of an Article V convention in the Constitution. We’ve had one convention like it, in 1787, and it went far, FAR, beyond its original intent. We got lucky in the sense that it replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution and not something more expansive, but are you willing to gamble on that happening again, with the cast of characters we have on the scene now? I certainly am not.

      Finally, the executive branch ignores the Constitution as it’s constructed NOW, as does the legislative branch, and the judiciary has been AWOL since Wickard v. Filburn on these issues. What makes you think the federal government won’t simply ignore whatever else we come up with from such a convention as well?

      I’m all ears.

    2. Delegate Lingamfelter,

      IN 2004 the Virginia Assembly voted to rescind previous calls for an Article V convention on the grounds that “WHEREAS, the operations of a convention are unknown and the apportionment and selection of delegates, method of voting in convention, and other essential procedural details are not specified in Article V…the prudent course requires the General Assembly to rescind and withdraw all past applications for a convention to amend the Constitution of the United States…”

      You voted for this, being opposed to Congress calling for a convention because of the risks involved. But, now you are all for one. I would be interested to know why the turn around.
      Nothing has changed since 2004 but the name. I got married and changed my name, but I’m still me The Convention of States is a new name for it but it is still petitioning Congress to call an Article V convention.

  1. With all due respect, Mr. Lingamfelter, you are grossly misinformed. Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, Jay, et al never once advocated Article V as a way to curb Federal overreach. Amendments were intended to correct errors or unforeseen omissions in the Constitution (hence, Amendments 11-15).

    The prescription for runaway Federal government, as intended by the Founders, Framers, and Makers, was clearly and expressly laid out by Madison in Federalist 46. Read the whole thing for yourself here (and also try 44 and 45).

    The relevant portion to the topic at hand is quoted below. The CoS people are flat-out lying to you.

    “On the other hand, should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter. But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm. Every government would espouse the common cause. A correspondence would be opened. Plans of resistance would be concerted. One spirit would animate and conduct the whole. The same combinations, in short, would result from an apprehension of the federal, as was produced by the dread of a foreign, yoke; and unless the projected innovations should be voluntarily renounced, the same appeal to a trial of force would be made in the one case as was made in the other. But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity. In the contest with Great Britain, one part of the empire was employed against the other.”

    Madison goes on to say that if the “powerful and at hand” measures that the states may use against Federal overreach (interposition, non-cooperation, and legal nullification by legislatures) are not sufficient to deter the Feds, the only remaining resort is for the people to take up arms.

    Notice he NEVER ONCE mentions Article V.

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