Are we still panicking about an Article V Convention?

In response to the esteemed Rob Kenyon’s response to my response to his argument against an Article V Convention, I posit the following:

1) My argument that the 38 State ratification requirement trumps concerns about the rules that would apply an Article V Convention still stands.

2) The make-up of the state legislatures make now the best time for conservatives to trigger an Article V Convention, one is ever to be triggered.

3) The fact that you disagree with the views of some who favor an Article V Convention is not a reason to panic and fear-monger about the possibility of such a convention.

Mr. Kenyon focuses, as many do, on the unknown in the world of Article V Conventions.  Many “scholars” on both sides of the debate claim to know how an Article V Convention would be formed, what rules would apply, how states will be represented, etc. The fact is we don’t know any of this, because there has never been an Article V Convention before and the Constitution is silent on the matter. What we do know is that the Convention must be called by Congress, without intervention from the Executive Branch.  Then we know that the Convention may, if agreement is reached, propose Constitutional Amendments.  Then we know that such proposals must be ratified by the legislatures of at least 38 States in order to be accepted. (For a great non-spin outline of the process as it stands, the National Archives spell it out fairly well).

In reality, the form and methods adopted by an Article V Convention likely mean little, and such a body is unlikely to propose any earth-shattering amendments. Why? Because anything earth-shattering would ever pass the 38 state test, and politicians simply don’t like to propose things that are doomed to never pass. (See the power of the Veto-Threat, for example). However, as I stated in my original response – and as was not countered by Mr. Kenyon – it just doesn’t’ matter. Even if the Convention were to “run away” with its mandate and propose silly things, only the most universally accepted ideas would possibly be ratified by the legislatures of 38 states.

Further, the make-up of state legislatures is now more conservative than any time in modern history, with Republicans holding 35 State Senates compared to Democrats holding only 14 and Republicans holding 33 State Houses while Democrats hold only 16. This means that, in the current political climate, any Constitutional Amendments that could potentially be ratified would have to be conservative in nature.  So, while it is unlikely that any vaguely controversial amendments would possibly be ratified by 38 States, any amendments that are ratified would tend to be conservative amendments.  In short, now is the time for Conservatives to push for an Article V Convention.

This leads to the arguments surrounding “who is in favor of an Article V Constitutional Convention” and why might that matter?  The truth is, some people on both ends of ideology favor the idea of amending the Constitution at various times.  Mr. Kenyon pushes the names of people he finds distasteful (or liberal) that support a Convention as a reason to be against it. This sort of ad hominem rhetorical device really has no place in this argument.  However, to counter such rhetoric, one need merely to look to the facts. Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly who are pushing for a Convention, and hard-right Virginia luminaries such as Ken Cuccenelli are pushing Virginia to opt-in.  It makes sense that the political right is currently pushing for a Convention as the political Right controls the ratification process. The fact that some leftists also push for a convention merely shows that people on both sides of the aisle realize that the system is not working well right now, and something has to give.

While Mr. Kenyon can continue to fear-monger, stating that it is “crunch-time” and “desperately important” that you contact your legislators, the reality is that it is unlikely any actual amendments would reach the 38 State ratification threshold. If some amendments did, they would be conservative or neutral in nature. Most probably, they would likely look something like this:

AMENDMENT XXVIII 

After one year from the ratification of this article, the congress may borrow money on the credit of the United States only by borrowing such money from a Citizen of the United States, except in time of war as declared pursuant to Section 8. of this Constitution. No Citizen of the United States may transfer such debt to a non-Citizen.

AMENDMENT XXIX

SECTION. 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the Senator more than twice. But this Article shall not apply to current or previous terms of any person holding the office of Senator as of the time that this Article was ratified by the States, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of Senator, or acting as Senator, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of Senator or acting as Senator during the remainder of such term.

SECTION. 2. No person shall be elected to the office of the Representative more than five times. But this Article shall not apply to current or previous terms of any person holding the office of Representative as of the time that this Article was ratified by the States, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of Representative, or acting as Representative, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of Representative or acting as Representative during the remainder of such term. 

The first would allow for the United States to acquire debt only by selling bonds or borrowing from U.S. Citizens, unless Congress declares war. The second would finally place Term Limits on Congress. Those are likely the only two concepts that have any potential to gain traction in 38 states. Would either Amendment be so bad?


5 thoughts on “Are we still panicking about an Article V Convention?

  1. Here is why you are wrong, what you are overlooking:

    FIRST, liberals specialize in setting Republicans up on issues and votes where a shallow, superficial impression sounds good, but Republicans are forced to vote “no” because the nitty-gritty details — actually thinking about the proposal — is bad.

    Forcing Republicans to oppose superficially popular proposals because — beneath the surface — the proposals would actually be harmful….

    …. this is the #1 tactic of liberals.

    Have we learned nothing in all this time?

    Laying traps for Republicans to make us look like we are in conflict with common sense, moral decency, and the will of the public… is that not business as usual for liberals?

    So what makes you look at these issues from a logical perspective — instead of from a partisan politics guerilla warfare perspective used by liberals every day of the week.

    So when you say that the 38 legislatures would not ratify a bad proposed amendment…

    … the goal of liberals would be to defeat Republicans in the legislature and elect Democrats in the State legislatures by portraying Republicans as heartless, out of touch, racist, sexist, bigoted, etc.

    SECOND, you completely ignore the role of the low-information voters. Demagoguing these issues in each State is a genuine danger.

    Remember that in almost every State, just a few Republican defectors — and the GOP is full of traitors to GOP principles — added to Democrat votes is enough to pass any bill.

    When you say that the GOP controls the state legislatures, that’s not true. Republicans are not united. Democrat votes plus a few Republican defectors is enough to ratify a bad constitutional amendment.

    THIRD, similarly, you completely ignore the role of the news media, entertainment world, culture, etc. dominated by liberalism.

  2. Proponents are trying to tell the General Assembly that arguments against are “misinformation”

    Are they saying that PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY, who has been studying constitutional amendments since the 1970’s, and accessing all of the experts on the subject, is lying to you?

    Phyllis Schlafly on Why Calling a Constitutional Convention is a Bad Idea

    Phyllis Schlafly on Beware Constitutional Convention! (part 1 of 3)

    Phyllis Schlafly on Beware Constitutional Convention! (part 2 of 3)

    Phyllis Schlafly on Beware Constitutional Convention! (part 3 of 3)

    Desperation is not a reason to gamble with the U.S. Constitution.

    Article V of the US Constitution is very clear:

    1) The States can APPLY for a Convention

    2) Congress CALLS a Convention

    3) The Convention PROPOSES amendments.

    The only details EXPLICITLY clear are that

    — the Convention — not the States — proposes amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

    — Congress issues the “Call.” But WHOM is called? The power to call includes the decision WHOM to call. Congress calls the Convention. Congress will decide WHO gets to be a delegate and under what rules.

    Just read Article V of the US Constitution.

    There is no doubt. There is only interpretation possible. READ IT for yourself. Very little is clearly stated. So what little is stated explicitly is very important: The Convention proposes amendments. The States do not. The States can only apply for Congress to call a convention.

    Desperation and wishful thinking drive “Convention of the States” proponents to argue that because a convention was handled a certain way once in the past, therefore it “must” be handled that way in the future.

    There is nothing that requires a convention to be organized or handled in any particular way. There is no “precedent” involved. One convention has absolutely no precedential effect upon another.

  3. I have to admit I’ve read this rebuttal (?) twice and still can’t make heads or tails out of what the author is trying to communicate. I’ve distilled it down to the simple premise that – what is all the angst about among some conservatives regarding an Article V Convention” since its unlikely to accomplish or create anything bad as “the form and methods adopted by an Article V Convention likely mean little, and such a body is unlikely to propose any earth-shattering amendments” given it must be ratified by 38 states. So it might lead a poor misguided opposer such as myself to ask if the whole thing is so unlikely to produce anything of consequence, why is all the cash being spent and the verbiage in support being generated for such a benign and potentially unrewarding effort? Like new common core math 2 plus 2 apparently doesn’t equal four in this debate.

  4. @ Lawrence Wood – You are correct. It is likely much ado about nothing. The difficulty in getting 38 states to ratify means that only the most benign, universally acceptable Amendments have the potential of passage. Unless the Amendments are universally acceptable – it is unlikely that such a convention will result in anything. The only potentially acceptable Amendments I can think of would involve balanced budget or term limits – which is why I put such language in my posting,

    That said, I’m not for a convention. I’m just against the fear-mongering that is being thrown at the public by people who are panicked over the prospect of such a convention. The ratification process makes it so unlikely that .

    @ Jon Moseley- I watched all of Ms. Schlafly’s videos you posted. Again, like other people trying to foster a panic over the idea of an Article V Convention, she fails to address the fact that 38 states would need to ratify any amendments. She seems to believe that whatever the convention came up with would automatically be implemented. So either she is incorrect in her assumptions, though if she is the scholar you seem to believe she is that is unlikely, or she is purposefully ignoring the ratification process to fear-monger. Either way – she didn’t address my fundamental point. Also, she cites to Ken Cuccenelli as supportive of her viewpoint, though he is strongly supportive of calling for an Article V Convention – so that is disingenuous as well.

    Again – I’m not saying that an Article V Convention is a good idea… I’m fairly neutral on the subject, though I like the idea of term limits. I’m just saying that the fear-mongering that is being propagated by those who are against the idea is not founded in fact or law.

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