The movement to organize a Convention of States is gathering much steam of late and has become quite a hotly-debated topic. Why?
Both supporters and opponents of such a convention (CoS) want to take action to bring power back to the states and to the American people – where the Constitution states it belongs – rather than in Washington DC. Both groups believe our federal government has abused and stretched the powers enumerated to it by the U.S. Constitution. They assert that both elected and unelected Washington bureaucrats should not be allowed to make sweeping unfettered decisions which can have major impact on millions of citizens.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution gives states the power to call a Convention of States to propose amendments. It requires 34 states to call the convention and 38 states to ratify any proposed amendments. The objective is to discuss amendments that would limit the power and jurisdiction of the Federal government, impose fiscal restraint and pass term limits on Federal officials.
A CoS, however, is NOT the only way the U.S. Constitution might be altered. The alternative method, and likely the least risky, is that Congress might propose amendments, which could be passed with a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. This method has strong precedent. Of the 33 amendments approved by Congress and sent along to the states for ratification, only 27 were in fact ratified, and went on to become addenda to the U.S. Constitution.
Convention proponents claim they can limit a convention to just one subject (or a few pre-ordained subjects), but most legal scholars disagree. Because the Constitution is vague on how such a convention would actually work, many believe the gathering could leave Americans a wholesale rewrite of the Constitution – endangering fundamental rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to trial by jury. The convention could even elect to abolish our original Constitution altogether.
What are the arguments put forth in favor of, and opposed to, calling a new Convention of States?
Those who support a Convention of States argue that numerous safeguards inherent in Article V would protect the gathering from deteriorating into a runaway convention. They view the strongest safeguard as the ratification process for Convention-proposed amendments – which is the same one that amendments proposed by Congress would go through. If ratification by 38 states would be required for a new amendment to pass – that means only 13 states voting ‘NO’ could block it.
Article V CoS supporters have petitions in all fifty state house districts across America – and are actively working to move their project forward. Here is what some supporters say:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: “The Founders of the United States of America inserted Article V into the Constitution because they knew the entrenched powers in Washington would thumb their noses at the states and try to hijack the system for themselves. That’s why we need a Convention of States, authorized in the Constitution, to propose amendments to fix America.”
President of the conservative Leadership Institute, Morton Blackwell: “Some constitutional changes must be made. Nothing less will remove the danger that a future, solidly leftist, Supreme Court would ‘interpret’ the Constitution to eliminate the separation of powers and checks and balances in government. The great American experiment with limited government would be over.”
When asked if he supported the idea of a CoS, U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, Hon. Ben Carson, MD, replied: “Very much so… our Founding Fathers knew there would probably come a time when you would need to make some adjustments to the Constitution.”
Florida Rep. Ron De Santis: “I’ve spent years fighting the DC Swamp, and as a candidate for Governor of Florida, I know the states need Article V to take the power away from DC. The permanent bureaucracy will never voluntarily give up an ounce of its power.”
Constitutional lawyer and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom, Michael Farris: “Only a Convention of States will give us effective solutions to the abuse of power in Washington DC. It is our moral obligation to protect liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”
U.S. Army Major and FOX News contributor, Pete Hegseth: “The leviathan that is today’s federal government continues to grow unabated, pushing the people farther away from our Founder’s vision of self-governance. The Convention of States Project is the only constitutional pathway for citizens to save our Republic by restoring it to its citizens.”
Former Arkansas Governor, Rev. Mike Huckabee: “My longtime friend, Michael Farris — who is an excellent litigator and professor – has joined with Mark Meckler and Citizens for Self-Governance, to actually bring [a Convention of States] into reality. I have reviewed their plan, and it is both innovative and realistic. I urge you to join me in Supporting the Convention of States Project with Citizens for Self-Governance.”
Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal: “Luckily the Founders gave us a mechanism to reform a runaway federal government in Article V of the Constitution. We can – and we must – scale back the monstrosity our federal government has become.”
Attorney and broadcast patriot, Mark Levin: “I have whole-heartedly endorsed the Convention of States Project. I serve on its Legal Board of Reference because they propose a solution as big as the problem. They are promoting state applications for a convention for the purpose of limiting the scope, power and jurisdiction of the federal government – and that’s what needs to be done.”
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: “I put my trust in the people, not Washington, in the critical effort to restore constitutional limited government. The Convention of States Project is a genuine grassroots movement to achieve that goal, and one I am proud to be a part of.”
Former Florida Congressman, Lt. Col. Allen West: “Thank goodness the Founders had the wisdom to provide us with Article V of the Constitution, which gives us the right and power to hold an Amending Convention, for the purpose of proposing amendments to restrain scope and power of the federal government. Under the system of federalism, I support the efforts to gather a Constitutional Convention of States – consistent with Article V and honoring the Tenth Amendment.”
Among other respected CoS supporters are: former Florida governor Jeb Bush, former Senator from Oklahoma Tom Coburn, historian David Barton, former Senator from South Carolina Jim DeMint, Sheriff David Clarke, Lt.Col. Bill Cowan (USMC Ret.), Attorney Andrew McCarthy, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, former Missouri Senator Jim Talent, Hon. Ken Cuccinelli, former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, Rep. Jeff Duncan and economist Thomas Sowell.
Perceived dangers inherent in an Article V convention have generated vocal bipartisan opposition and fear of a runaway convention. In fact, historical precedent exists from the very beginning of our country for a CoS to exceed its stated boundaries.
Delegates to the original 1787 Philadelphia Convention exceeded their mandates to revise the then-governing Articles of Confederation. While this fortunately led to our present U.S. Constitution, it could have led anywhere.
The case against the CoS movement was bolstered by warnings from, among others, the late, ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, who declared: “Whoa! Who knows what would come out of it!”
How could a Convention of States go wrong? The Convention could propose bad amendments or a completely new, socialist or progressive U.S. Constitution, and then force its passage by introducing and utilizing a new ratification process, rather than the 38 states currently required.
As an alternative, Article VI could be invoked. In Article VI, America’s Founders provided the power to counter constitutional violations with law enforcement and punishment. Therefore, if an Article V CoS were convened and went awry, local, state and federal officials who swore an oath to the U.S. Constitution could exercise their duty to protect citizens’ rights by opposing and enforcing any flagrant Constitutional violations or unauthorized changes. The downside could, of course, result in a full-scale revolution with violence and bloodshed.
Under Article VI, many powers assumed today by the federal government, which are not specifically enumerated by the U.S. Constitution, could be changed. For example, taxes could be dramatically reduced and much of the corruption and abuses of power in Washington DC could be curbed.
Conservative political journalist Kelleigh Nelson wrote in March 2018: “Countless authorities have stated that a CoS cannot be controlled. Once opened, the entire [Constitutional] document can be taken down and changed. There are no statesmen today like our founders, and the risk of opening a convention for any reason would result in the destruction of the last threads binding us to a representative Republic.”
Constitutional attorney and activist, Publius Huldah, demands every U.S. citizen read the U.S. Constitution, understand its list of enumerated powers reserved for the federal government, and vote only for those who vow to stay true to their Constitutional oath — to govern according to our supreme document.
Another important caveat: It may seem counterintuitive, but many liberal and progressive Democrats strongly seek an Article V Convention as an opportunity to make their own changes.
Among the major changes they seek are to have publicly funded elections, abolition of the Electoral College, revamping of the Senate to more strongly represent urban populations, and repeal of the Second Amendment. They would also create term limits for Supreme Court Justices and create for all a basic right to free healthcare, education, housing and the vote, as well as a basic annual income for all (workers and non-workers alike).
The far-left policy group Common Cause – funded by socialist billionaire George Soros – and its affiliates, declared war against a CoS movement, calling it the largest radical alliance in U.S. history. These groups are dedicated to Marxism, fascism, radical environmentalism and abortion-on-demand. A few affiliates include the AFL-CIO, the Center for American Progress, Democracy 21, Greenpeace USA, Mi Familia Vota, MoveOn.org, the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the Action Fund, Planned Parenthood, People of the American Way, the Sierra Club and the SEIU (Service Employees International Union). Add to this list former president Barack Hussein Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Attorney general, Eric Holder.