A Convention of the States What Are They Afraid Of?
The Founders had one great fear; that a time would come when the Federal Government would overstep its bounds and come to dominate the individual States. Can anyone reading this dispute that this is such a time?
Look at our State governments. They are so addicted to Federal money they can’t exist without it. And they can’t get it without enough strings attached to turn them into little more than marionettes. They prance upon the stage masquerading as independent actors. In reality almost every step, every hand movement, every program, policy, and mandate is choreographed in the imperial capital.
The Founders saw this coming from more than 200 years away. And they made a provision for it.
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; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
In January of 2016 Governor Greg Abbott of Texas issued call for a Convention of the States. He advanced what is known as the Texas plan asking for the consideration of the following amendments to the U.S. Constitution:
- Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
- Require Congress to balance the federal budget.
- Prohibit administrative agencies from creating federal law.
- Prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law.
- Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
- Require a seven-justice supermajority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
- Limit federal powers to those expressly delegated in the Constitution.
- Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
- Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a federal law or regulation.
This call for action has inspired outrage and fear. Why?
Ever since the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913 changed the election of Senators, originally been elected by State legislators, to popular election the States have had no representation in Washington. This changed the relationship and nature of our federal system. The House was created to represent the people. The Senate was created to represent the States. Now with the popular election of Senators every State hires lobbyists to represent their interests. They’ve lost their voice.
The amendments by the governor of Texas would go a long way to redressing the balance. We need to do something to rein a runaway federal behemoth that’s smothering all of us under its stifling regulations.
The Progressives have been vocal in their resistance to the idea of a Convention of the States. They contend that they don’t want anyone messing with the Constitution. This is especially ironic since it’s the Progressives and the evolution of a Living Document that have brought us to this point. They’ve used the courts and the bureaucracy to change the Constitution without amending it.
President Woodrow Wilson, the quintessential Progressive, openly declared the Constitution an impediment to the kinds of reforms the Progressive Movement wanted. So he urged judges to interpret the Constitution in such a way as to loosen its limits on federal power. And he tried to use the bureaucracy to regulate freedom into serfdom.
The Progressives have been complaining for years that amending the Constitution is too hard. That is why we need a Living Document that can change with the times. That is why we needed to change that which was written in stone to that which is written in the sand.
It was supposed to be hard to amend the Constitution. That was one of the checks and balances written into the original document to help maintain the limited government it was written to establish and maintain. So instead of seeking to amend the Progressives have depended on federal judges especially Supreme Court justices to amend the Constitution through court rulings and precedence in a leftward direction.
For generations this unconstitutional judicial amendment process has continued step-by-step inch-by-inch until today government officials at the local, state or national level can seize private property in disregard of the 5th Amendment’s protections. They can listen to and record everything we say in contravention of the 4th Amendment. They disregard the14th Amendment’s provision of equal protection under the law allowing government-imposed group preferences and quotas under the name of affirmative action. Our celebrated equal rights have been sacrificed on the altar of diversity.
It’s a lie repeated enough to be accepted as true that the federal courts are merely interpreting the Constitution rather than re-writing it when they discover new rights that aren’t there and disregard ones that are.
The claim of the Progressives that this dishonest process is necessary because it’s so difficult to formally amend the Constitution is exposed as a lie by the success of their own movement. When their movement was young, before they invented the Living Document and the judicial interpretation process of change the Constitution was amended four times in just eight years. In all it has been formally amended 27 times.
So why is it so threatening to some people to call a Convention of States to propose amendments to the Constitution?
Let’s look at this logically. Why is this so threatening?
From a legal standpoint it isn’t some radical invention of the Altright. The Constitution lists a convention of states as one of the ways that amendments can be officially proposed. True it has never yet been done. But does that mean it is suspect or dangerous? Remember it takes two-thirds of the States to call a Convention and any proposed amendments put forward will need the votes of three-fourths of the States to be ratified. What’s so radical about that?
Here are my questions for those who fear a Convention of the States: Would you rather have the Constitution changed by a 5 to 4 vote of the Supreme Court? Would you rather have the Constitution changed by the rulings of a lone federal judge? Would you rather have the Constitution changed by the rulings of the Ninth Circuit? Would you rather have it changed by the unilateral actions of a president? Or would you rather have it changed by the administrative rulings of faceless bureaucrats in federal agencies?
Many express the fear that a Convention of the States would repeat History. The original Constitutional Convention was called by Congress to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation. Instead the Framers locked themselves in and wrote the Constitution in secret. Then they presented it to the States for ratification. The congress under the Articles eventually agreed to its own dissolution when public opinion showed a majority wanted the new government as proposed. This is the basis of the fear even if many do not know the whole story.
This fear overlooks the fact that it takes the votes of two-thirds of the states to call for a convention. And it takes three-fourths of the states to actually pass an amendment. Therefore, nothing could happen that was not the expression of the overwhelming majority of the representatives of the people.
Instead of a radical assault upon the Constitution
Gov. Abbott’s proposed amendments would restore constitutional protections that have been eroded and/or erased by unelected federal judges, by imperial presidents, and by unelected bureaucrats in administrative agencies.
We the People are being kept out of the process. Why? What are the Progressives and their media machine afraid of?
Though the Progressives consistently portray themselves through their media megaphone as the champions of the people, using the tactics of judicial overreach, legislative slight-of-hand, and bureaucratic fiat they continuously work to remove decisions from the hands of citizens. Instead they deliver us like lambs to the slaughter to unelected federal judges and faceless bureaucrats with civil service job protection and golden parachutes.
Is it any wonder that the Progressives don’t want us to have a convention that could possibly restore the Constitution as the guarantee of limited government, individual liberty, and economic opportunity for all?
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2017 Contact Dr. Owens email@example.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens
This call for action has inspired outrage and fear. Why?