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This week Rick Moran wrote a blog piece on the dangers of a Constitutional Convention entitle Hey Kids, Lets have a Constitutional Convention. Mr. Moran cites a book by Stanford University Professor Sanford Levinson in which some truly bizarre ideas are discussed on the concept of a Constitutional Convention (Con Con). But there is one big problem that the Professor Levinson does not address and that is the U.S. Constitution does not provide for the calling of a Con Con to re-write the whole constitution. Article V of the constitution is very clear on that point.
“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…”
Proposing Amendments is the operative phrase here. That is to say there is no wording to support re-writing the constitution but only amending it. The Founding Fathers were wise in this regard. But if you think about it, Congress has the power to propose amendments to the Constitution at any time it can muster a two thirds vote. Despite this unbridled power, Congress has never attempted to re-write the Constitution using Article V.
Then there is the wording in the latter half of that paragraph concerning the application of two thirds of the states. Yes, it is true that the States themselves can call for an Article V Convention (AVC), but this still remains for amendments only, not a complete re-write. Admittedly, this is more difficult and has never been tried, but as the old proverb says, there is a time for everything, and the time for this method may be close at hand. Critics will say there is a danger of a “runaway” Con Con. But there is a safety valve called ratification which is defined in latter half of Article V:
“…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…”
So even if you could get an AVC to convene and get the delegates to agree on a bizarre amendment, such as the abolition of the Bill of Rights, it would still require the ratification of thirty-eight states which really means that just thirteen states would have veto power over any amendment offered by an AVC, or from Congress for that matter.
Despite all these obstacles, the time may be at hand to call for an AVC. The national debt just passed $16 trillion and there seems to be no end in sight to deficit spending as the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) most recent report suggests. This CBO report finds that the percentage of the public debt as compared with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will hit 73% by the end of this year.. Congress has shown no will at all to offer a solution such as a balanced budget amendment, and it is arguable that some of the proposed language for such an amendment would be toothless if violated. Given these facts the Goldwater Institute and other conservative organizations like the
The National National Debt Relief Amendment (NDRA) is composed of thirteen words with profound implications.
“An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate States.”
Essentially this means that without the approval of twenty-six states, Congress cannot raise the debt limit and therefore would be force to live within the revenues that it skims from taxpayers. If congress were to illegally raise the debt limit in violation of this amendment as worded, then any one of the states that withheld approval would have standing to file suite to impound the funds that were illegally raised.
It has been argued that the language that each state must use to call for an AVC must be identical from all thirty-three states to be valid. How this interpretation has been arrived at is by collective wisdom of folks inside the beltway. So in keeping within that guideline, RestoringFreedom.org has gathered sponsors form twenty-nine states to propose the exact same language for an AVC call.
There will be opposition from the usual crowd of fear mongers who will claim that this will end the world as we know it. The simple response to such claims is that the world as we know it rests on the knifes edge of financial instability and without any change, it will soon be lacerated to ribbons by the buzz saw of unsustainable deficit spending. Maybe it is time to change the world as we know it.
“I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers.” - Thomas Jefferson
The opinions expressed are those of the author, who represents the San Antonio Tea Party, and does not represent the opinions of WOAI, its management, personnel or its advertisers.