“We live under the only government that ever existed which was framed by the unrestrained and deliberate consultations of the people. Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once gone, might leave a void, to be filled, for ages, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism.” – Daniel Webster
The patriot’s mind can scarcely dream up something as risky and more potentially damning to our Republic as the so-called “Convention of States” being proposed primarily by mainstream Republicans and conservatives. Perhaps you have not heard of the well-organized and well-funded push for a Convention of States. This article will explain the scheme for calling a deceptively-named Convention of States while pointing out the terrible risks we run in indulging this nearsighted idea.
First thing’s first: What is a Convention of States? A Convention of States is a formal meeting of all the states in the Union to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. This Convention would be called pursuant to Article V of the Constitution, which will be discussed shortly. The term “Convention of States” is actually nowhere to be found in the Constitution. Article V uses a simpler term for the same concept: “Convention.”
Though the mainstream “conservatives” pushing this idea protest the fact, the hard reality is that a “Convention of States” is nothing other than a constitutional convention. The relevant section of Article V of the Constitution states:
“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.”
Please note that Article V of the Constitution authorizes two-thirds of the states to petition for a “Convention” – that is, a constitutional convention. It does not authorize some fictitious “Convention of States.” Any formal meeting called forth by two-thirds of the states would be, by default, a constitutional convention because its purpose is to offer amendments to the Constitution. As just cited, the convention would “propose Amendments to this Constitution.” And what of these amendments? Are they binding upon the Union? Article V affirms that all amendments proposed by said convention “shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution” when approved by the states.
Let’s restate this in different terms. If two-thirds – that is, thirty-four – of our states formally call for an Article V “Convention,” a meeting of delegates from each state would convene with power to propose amendments to the existing Constitution. These amendments, upon approval by three-fourths – or thirty-eight – of the states, would become part of the supreme law of the land. This, my friends, is a constitutional convention! It is not a “Convention of States.” There is no such thing as a “Convention of States.” That very modern term is at best inaccurate, and at worst deliberately deceptive. What we are discussing is the instigation of a formal constitutional convention.
Literally anything could be proposed in such a convention. The mainstream conservatives backing this convention have deceived themselves into thinking that only good, beneficial, and wise amendments would be produced – amendments calling or a balanced budget, setting term limits, ending our endless foreign wars, and so forth. Most supporters believe that a convention of this sort can be limited, by prearranged agreement, to only one topic.
But what guarantee can they give that an Article V convention can be limited to one single issue? They cannot promise this. Article V certainly does not make that clear that a limited convention can be called. In fact, is speaks of a convention proposing “amendments” in the plural. Once convention delegates get behind closed doors, who knows what prerogatives they will claim! We simply cannot predict what a convention might attempt to do.
If a convention decides that Article V in fact allows them to propose multiple amendments, who is to say that they won’t attempt to push forward a socialistic agenda? What guarantee do we have that an amendment stripping Americans of their right to keep and bear arms would not be proposed? What guarantee can they offer that tax-payer funded healthcare would not be formally added to the Constitution? What guarantee can they give that our children won’t be forced to study in government public schools, that we won’t be required to be vaccinated against our will, that our businesses won’t be forced to accept LGBT standards, that the internet will not be regulated “for our protection,” and so forth?
No matter how anti-American, communistic, or unsound an amendment proposed by such a convention is, it becomes part of the supreme law of the land if subsequently ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures. Recall that Article V states that all amendments proposed by a convention are law “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.” Do you trust Congress, or even the states, to keep an Article V convention in check? This issue of trusting Congress becomes paramount when we ponder the question: Who sets the rules for an Article V convention?
The Constitution tells us exactly who sets the rules governing an Article V convention – and it is not the states as “Convention of States” supporters claim. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution declares that one of the duties of Congress is: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.” The U.S. Congress, therefore, is in charge of establishing rules and regulations for any convention called forth under Article V. And Article V makes it clear in two places that the Congress is the entity empowered to inaugurate a convention once enough states have submitted petitions.
What may Congress decide relative to an Article V convention? It appears that Congress can dictate where a convention is held, how convention delegates are chosen, how many delegates are sent from each state, and virtually anything else it wants to. It is Congress, not the states, who have final authority over the proceedings of an Article V convention. Once two-thirds of the states petition for a convention, Congress is empowered to take the lead in governing the convention.
Real dyed-in-the-wool American patriots are terrified at the thought of our current Congress dictating the rules for a 21st-Century constitutional convention. Can you imagine Nancy Pelosi presiding over a meeting to define the parameters of a new constitutional convention? The Democratic Party holds a majority in the House of Representatives. Do you trust them? By the same token, do you trust the Republicans to do the right thing? If you do not trust Congress, you simply cannot trust an Article V convention.
And what if Congress decided that states will send delegates proportional to their populations? In that scenario, communist-controlled states like California and New York would have a disproportionate sway over the convention despite the fact that it was primarily “Republican” states who called for a convention. Any way you slice it, an Article V convention is, given our present political climate, an unacceptable risk.
The key takeaway from this portion of the article is that there is no limit to the scope and tenor of amendments an Article V convention may propose, except the provision that no state may be deprived of its voting power. A convention can literally propose anything it wants to – and Congress can likewise set forth any procedural regulations it chooses. Additionally, a convention may itself propose a new ratification method other than the three-fourths of states called for in Article V! This is precisely what our Founding Fathers did in Philadelphia in 1787, thus setting an ominous precedent for future conventions.
In 1787, our Founding Fathers discarded the rules set forth in the Articles of Confederation requiring a unanimous approval by all thirteen states of any new amendments. Instead of abiding by this rule, our Founders determined that only three-fourths of the states needed to approve the newly-written Constitution for it to become operative. If the 1787 Convention did it, why can’t a convention in 2019 or 2020 or 2025? The precedent is there and you are fooling yourself if you believe for one second that delegates to a modern convention wouldn’t consider following it.
Speaking of precedents, the 1787 Constitutional Convention was conducted in deliberate secrecy. It proceedings were completely off-record. No one knew what the delegates were discussing, what was being proposed, or what progress, if any, was being made. All that the American People knew was that some of its finest men were huddled together behind closed doors hashing out their future course. Again, do you trust today’s gaggle of politicians to deliberate behind closed doors and emerge with changes to our Constitution that will be beneficial, wise, and sound?
The real issue here is not whether there is constitutional authority to call a convention – the authority clearly exists. No, the real question is whether we have enough capable and worthy representatives to keep such a convention in harmony with America’s founding vision. In 1787, the country had a deep pool of hearty patriots to choose representatives from. These were men of honor, integrity, experience, faith, and wisdom. Among them were George Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, and Gouverneur Morris. But who do we have to represent us today? Where are the Washingtons and Madisons of modern America? Do you honestly believe we can round up a group whose wisdom, fidelity, and reliability equals that of our 1787 Convention?
President Gordon B. Hinckley, one of the most powerful and eloquent religious leaders of our modern age, spoke reverently of our Founding Fathers and lamented that we cannot now produce a group as talented as they. He observed:
“What a singular and remarkable group they were. As I look across the world today, I search in vain for such a group as walked together across the stage of history when this nation was born. . . .
“Just think of a moment of George Washington, of Franklin, of Madison, of the Adams’s, of Thomas Jefferson, and their associates who signed the Declaration of Independence, or participated in the Constitutional Convention. Where in all the world today can even one or two such men be found, let alone the great aggregation that participated in the birth of America?
“Can anyone deny that they were raised up unto this very purpose, that working together, they brought forth on this continent an independent nation at the risk of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor? It is my conviction that while we have had a few great leaders since then, there has not been before or since so large a group of talented, able, dedicated, and inherently wise and good men as those whom we call the Founding Fathers of this nation. For as long as they lived they acknowledged the hand of the Almighty in the affairs of this republic.”
I endorse President Hinckley’s remarks. Our Founding Fathers were a unique group. They were talented beyond measure. They were endowed with wisdom – wisdom field-tested over generations of struggle. They were men of God. Their patriotism and devotion to America is beyond dispute. And the supreme work of their hands, the Constitution, has withstood the test of time and helped produced the greatest, freest, most prosperous and powerful nation in world history.
Do we honestly believe that our wisdom is superior to that of our Founding Fathers? What arrogance to believe that we are smarter than they; that we know better how to formulate beneficial laws; that the principles and functions of our current Constitution are outdated and need fixed; and that we have somehow outgrown the vision for America’s destiny foreseen by our forefathers! Speaking to a group of Nobel Prize winners in 1962, President John F. Kennedy remarked: “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” And so it is.
Our Founding Fathers’ brilliance eclipses in every conceivable way our present wisdom, if indeed it can be called wisdom at all. We have sunken to such a state of mindless confusion, infectious bias, and distressing ignorance that I have zero faith that our nation of 330 million people could produce fifty-six men as capable and faithful as those who gave us our Constitution. Unless we sincerely believe that we can assemble a group of men that rivals George Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and their partners, in intelligence and honesty, we are risking our entire nation by calling for an inherently unpredictable Article V convention.
While many who support a “Convention of States” are well-meaning and merely lack a correct understanding of the risks involved, there are other supporters who are sworn adversaries of our Republic. These individuals are certainly not friends of the Constitution because they would use their influence to call a convention whose proposals could quite potentially eviscerate that inspired document.
I have noted that Republicans and conservatives are the primary people pushing for an Article V convention. It is true that they are the most vocal. Author and radio host Mark Levin, for instance, is the de facto spokesman for the movement. Sean Hannity, David Barton, and other “conservatives” likewise support a convention because they think it will help us rein in government.
Yet, notwithstanding the support of mainstream conservatism, there are numerous communist groups also chomping at the bit for a constitutional convention. I have seen it reported that arch-communist George Soros is opposing a Convention of States. The truth, however, is that Soros-funded groups like Wolf PAC and Code Pink are in fact actively campaigning for a “Convention of States,” with Wolf PAC successfully prodding some six Democratic states to apply for an Article V convention. Soros and numerous other Marxists also have a hand in the Constitution 2020 movement.
It is a socialist dream to have a constitutional convention which can be hijacked and used as the vehicle for doing away with the U.S. Constitution that stands as an obstacle for their conquest of America. Every dirty trick, including using the media to bias and deceive the American People, would be employed to sabotage the proceedings. Blackmail, special interest lobbying, and bribery would all be used to ramrod radical changes through an Article V convention. In all likelihood, a “Convention of States” would mean the formal death of our Republic.
But, conservatives claim, the states still have the final say in whether to approve or reject amendments proposed in a convention. This is true. However, if thirty-four states take the risk of petitioning for a convention, it does not seem a tall order to persuade four more to go along with the crowd in ratifying the proposals. After all, every four years the media persuades a similar number of states to vote against their best interests as they select Establishment-approved presidential candidates. The risks are just too great to call a convention at present.
In a 2015 article written by an attorney using the name Publius Huldah, we find this blunt warning:
“If there is an Article V convention, we will lose the Constitution we have, and another Constitution will be imposed.
“You are not getting both sides of this issue. Throughout the country, those of us who are warning of the dangers of an Article V convention are marginalized, ridiculed, smeared, shut out of meetings, and barred from speaking in public forums. . . .
“The reason convention proponents forbid dissenting voices is that we can prove, by means of facts and original source documents, that the claims and promises of the convention proponents are false. . . .
“We are in the final stage of a takeover. Leftists of every variety want a new Constitution to legalize our transformation from the constitutional Republic created by our existing Constitution to a dictatorship.
“To get a new Constitution, they need a convention. So they are telling conservatives that our Constitution is causing our problems and we need to amend the Constitution. And they say we can only make the amendments they say we need at a convention.”
Please read the rest of the very astute warning here.
The New American also warned of an Article V convention in a 2018 article:
“Nearly all conservatives agree that the federal government — under both Democrats and Republicans — continues to grow beyond the limitations set for it in the U.S. Constitution. As part of that overreach, the federal government has been swelling the national debt into the multiple trillions and treading on the rights of the states and of the people for more than a hundred years. The Insider/Internationalist/Big Government/Deep State/Globalist types — having created the problem in the first place — are now busily forming and funding organizations that offer a “solution” in the form of a modern-day constitutional convention that would have the power to rewrite the U.S. Constitution.
“They are guilty of what 19th-century French economist Frédéric Bastiat called “concocting the antidote and the poison in the same laboratory.” Having administered a near fatal dose of the poison, they are now pushing slick, well-funded campaigns to sell the antidote. But here is the rub: Administering poison was never the real goal; its purpose was to make the antidote appear attractive.”
Problem-reaction-solution. This is the tactic commonly used by the Elites. They artificially create a problem. Then they nudge the public’s reaction in the direction they want it to go. And, finally, when public outcry reaches a boiling point, they rush in with a “solution.” They always ride in as white knights to save the day. If people only understand the hero is really the villain wearing a mask, they would be less likely to take his outstretched hand.
The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities also published a piece with many warnings. I extract this portion for your consideration:
“A convention likely would be extremely contentious and highly politicized, and its results impossible to predict.
“A number of prominent jurists and legal scholars have warned that a constitutional convention could open up the Constitution to radical and harmful changes. For instance, the late Justice Antonin Scalia said in 2014, “I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. Whoa! Who knows what would come out of it?” Similarly, former Chief Justice of the United States Warren Burger wrote in 1988:
““[T]here is no way to effectively limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey. After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda.” . . .
“In sum, there is no way to predict what constitutional amendments the delegates to a convention might adopt.”
If even our Supreme Court justices admit that an Article V convention is “unpredictable” and not easy to limit, shouldn’t we step back and really think about what we are asking for?
Finally, Common Cause issued this warning:
“A well-funded, highly coordinated national effort is underway to call a constitutional convention, under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, for the first time in history. The result of such a convention could be a complete overhaul of the Constitution and supporters of the convention are dangerously close to succeeding. With special interest groups gaining more momentum, conservative advocates are just six states short of reaching the constitutionally-required 34-state goal. They are targeting Republican-controlled legislatures in 2018 and are within striking distance.
“The unknowns surrounding a constitutional convention pose an unacceptable risk, particularly in the current polarized political climate. Given how close calling a new convention is, it’s time to spotlight that risk and sound an alarm for the preservation of our Constitution.
“Too few Americans are even aware that a constitutional convention can be called, let alone that there would be no checks on its scope and further that the process to call one is well underway and being underwritten by some of the nation’s richest individuals. . . .
“Simply put, an Article V constitutional convention is a dangerous and uncontrollable process that would put Americans’ constitutional rights up for grabs.
“At a time when extreme gerrymandering has created unprecedented polarization and big money buys access and influence for a few very wealthy special interests, a new constitutional convention would lead to chaos; the interests of everyday Americans would be shut out of the ultimate closed-door meeting. There would be no way to limit the scope of a constitutional convention and no way to guarantee that our civil liberties and constitutional process would be protected.”
Read Common Cause’s article for a long list of quotations from legal experts on the unpredictability and danger of an Article V convention.
Where do we stand today in the process of initiating a constitutional convention? We are dangerously close. It is generally accepted that twenty-eight of the necessary thirty-four states have applied for an Article V convention. These have applied, specifically, to propose a balanced budget amendment. Several other states have also applied for a general, or plenary, convention. If the two tallies are added together, as some interpretations demand, thirty-three of the requisite thirty-four states have applied for an Article V convention! Detailed breakdowns of the numbers can be found through The John Birch Society here and The Federalist Society here.
Whatever the number your interpretation causes you to cite, one thing is certain: The movement to call a national convention that would propose amendments to our precious Constitution is gaining momentum. We are potentially very close to the day when Congress will be required to call forth a convention which, depending on numerous variables, could permanently alter America’s governmental structure and future. To Constitution-loving patriots, the “Convention of States” crusade poses a massive threat.
The reality is that we do not need an Article V convention of any sort. The Constitution possesses numerous other avenues for self-correction that are much less risky. For instance, Article VI, Clause 2 declares that the Constitution is “the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” Clause 3 follows this up by ensuring that all governmental representatives in either federal or state positions “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.” Article VI, then, provides a sure remedy to the mismanagement of our national affairs: Enforcement of the law!
We do not need to amend the Constitution; we need to enforce it. We do not need to change it; we need to apply it. We do not need a novel system; we need accountability under our present one. If we cannot enforce our current Constitution, what makes us think we can enforce a new constitution or that a new amendment will be obeyed when the others are not? An Article V convention is a pipedream indulged by those who have not taken the time to think it through to its logical conclusion. It is a desperate gamble by those who have lost faith in the Constitution, including its much simpler self-correct formulas.
In addition to Article VI, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments reserve to the states all governmental powers not specifically listed in the Constitution. The states once understood this reality and exercised their power. Take action in your home state and start to change things from the inside out. The anti-state rulings of renegade courts do not matter – the Constitution trumps the opinions of activist judges. No court in the land can justly curtail states’ rights. If your state representatives had the nerve, they could assert their rights today and thwart the Washington-based socialist agenda.
We see that the Constitution contains numerous self-correct remedies. We do not need to choose the riskiest and vaguest of them all in order to fix our broken nation. We do not need a convention to balance the budget – Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 already requires Congress to appropriate funds and give an accounting of its actions. We do not need a new convention with its new opportunities for experimentation and failure. We simply need to apply and enforce the time-tested Constitution as written. We merely need to hold our representatives accountable for the oaths they take to defend the Constitution. And we can use the normal amendment process to appeal hostile amendments such as the sixteenth and seventeenth.
Even our Founding Fathers were worried about calling a new convention. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, opposed a call by New York for a second constitutional convention in 1788. He listed numerous reasons for his opposition to a new convention and then explained:
“Under all these circumstances it seems scarcely to be presumeable that the deliberations of the [second convention] could be conducted in harmony, or terminate in the general good. Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of America and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned” (James Madison to George Lee Turberville, November 2, 1788).
If the political climate had already shifted and become unfavorable for a new convention by 1788, only one year after the first convention ended, no one can believe the situation is more favorable now. Among the propitious circumstances of the first Constitutional Convention was the unifying presence of George Washington. Who would unify a convention today? Which figure of any political stripe could unify a body of delegates from around the nation? You know in your heart that a modern convention would be rife with partisan bickering and special interest influence.
Whatever course others may choose, I cannot support a constitutional convention. I also could not, because of my religious views, accept the proposals of a new convention. It is my heartfelt belief that the U.S. Constitution was inspired by Almighty God and that anything beyond its plain principles of Liberty is not merely misguided, but evil. For my part, I will never swear allegiance to a new constitution. My allegiance runs to my God and the Constitution which He inspired and caused to be established in America.
If, Heaven forbid, a new convention is initiated, it will require a literal miracle to prevent it from transforming our nation into a communist utopia. Yet, perhaps America is out of miracles. Perhaps the hand of the Lord is no longer guiding us and shielding us from our own choices. We surely do not worship the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ. We have officially banned Him from our schools and made it abundantly clear that He is not welcome in our national deliberations. We have forsaken our cultural institutions and traditions of our honorable forefathers. We are ripening for severe chastisement. And few of our sins are as serious as tampering with our sacred Constitution.
Please, dear friend, oppose a deceptively-named “Convention of States.” Oppose this convention because of its unpredictability and its high level of risk to our God-given Liberty. Trust in the Constitution established by our Founders and use its ordinary mechanisms, such as Article VI, to right the wrongs being perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals. Oppose a Convention of States as if our Republic depended on it, for it likely does.
I close with a quotation from Daniel Webster. Read it. Ponder it. Take it to heart. Cherish the blessings you enjoy under our current Constitution and never trust your Liberties to the care of 21st-Century politicians. Beware a Convention of States. BEWARE!
“Americans, you are the most privileged people that the sun shines on. The salutary influences of your climate are inferior to the salutary influence of your laws. Your soil, rich to a proverb, is less rich than our Constitution. Your rivers, large as the oceans of the old world, are less copious than the streams of social happiness which flow around you. Your air is not purer than your civil liberty, and your hills, though high as heaven and deep as the foundations of the earth, are less exalted and less firmly founded than that benign and everlasting religion which blesses you and shall bless your offspring. Amidst these profuse blessings of nature and of Providence, BEWARE! . . . you have everything to lose; you have nothing to gain. We live under the only government that ever existed which was framed by the unrestrained and deliberate consultations of the people. Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once gone, might leave a void, to be filled, for ages, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism.” – Daniel Webster, Independence Day oration, July 4, 1802.
June 3, 2019
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