Skip to comments."A Convention for Proposing Amendments...as Part of This Constitution"
Posted on 03/27/2006 7:58:11 PM PST by Publius
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.
--Article V of the Constitution of the United States
The Founding Fathers left us two methods to propose amendments to the Constitution.
The Framers also left us two methods to ratify amendments, and they authorized Congress to decide which method was appropriate. The Supreme Court has ruled that Congress is limited to choosing one of the two methods.
One thing is perfectly clear: Article V gives the States Assembled in Convention the same proposal rights as Congress -- no more, no less. And no matter whether an amendment originates with Congress or a Convention for Proposing Amendments, it must be ratified by three-fourths of the states before it can become part of the Constitution.
The Framers Safety Valve
Fearing a tyrannical Congress would block the amendment process, the Framers formulated Article V, wording it so as to fence off the Constitution from hostile or careless hands. They were careful to enumerate Three Forbidden Subjects.
The last Forbidden Subject is implied, rather than explicit, like the first two. The Framers took great pains to avoid using the term constitutional convention. Instead, the Founding Document refers to a Convention for proposing Amendments...as part of this Constitution. An Article V Convention is strictly limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of 1787, and it is forbidden to consider, compose, or even discuss a new constitution. No matter what amendments may be proposed, the Constitution must remain intact, else the actions of the convention become unconstitutional. Unless Article V is amended first to allow it, a Convention for Proposing Amendments can never become a true constitutional convention, i.e., it can never write a new constitution. And neither can Congress.
How It Would Work
The Founding Document is silent about a Convention for Proposing Amendments, except for establishing its existence and the criterion of its call by Congress. But some things can be extrapolated from the Constitution.
The Practical Side of a Convention for Proposing Amendments
Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution prevents a sitting congressman or senator from taking a seat as a delegate at a Convention for Proposing Amendments unless he first resigns his seat in Congress. It is safe to say that few would be willing to give up the permanent power of Congress for the transitory power of an Article V Convention.
So who would be elected by the states? Yourself, your friends, and your neighbors.
There would be no need for a party endorsement or a campaign war chest. Anyone who raised a vast sum of money or took campaign contributions from vested interests would immediately fall under suspicion. After all, an Article V Convention is about the Constitution, not pork, perks and personal power.
Anyone who wishes to run for Convention Delegate will have to know his Constitution. He will have to express strong positions on possible amendment proposals and be able to defend those positions in public. He cant hedge, waffle or use weasel words. Before the election, voters are sure to ask the candidate to submit his favorite amendment proposals in writing, which is the best way to avoid the slippery language of politics.
Most importantly, the candidate for Convention Delegate will have to be a person of integrity, respected in his community. And that eliminates most careerists of the current political class.
The conservative caricature of an Article V Convention is a disorderly mob of statists from Massachusetts, welfare recipients from New York, and New Agers and illegal aliens from California.
The liberal caricature of a convention is a gaggle of socially maladjusted individualists from Arizona, American Gothics from Indiana, Christers from Kansas, Johnny Rebs from South Carolina, and bearskin-clad mountain men from Alaska.
And to 49 states, the name of Texas conjures up the image of sharp businessmen skinning the other delegates out of their eye teeth.
They will all be there, and that is as it should be. At an Article V Convention, everyone will have an opportunity to make his case. And everyone will have to lay his cards on the table.
Here is a possible selection of things that one could expect at a convention.
But its a safe bet that only congressional term limits, a balanced budget, repeal of the income tax, a fix to the border problem, and one or more possible solutions to the problem of the Electoral College will get out of convention and be sent to the states for ratification.
And it's possible that none of the proposed amendments will receive the three-fourths ratification necessary to add them to the Constitution!
So why go through all this?
Because we as Americans need to know that our system works for us. Recent events have placed doubts in many minds, and there are those among us who would argue that the system does not work anymore and needs to be changed.
But that is the beauty of the Constitution of the United States. It is designed to be changed by the people, either through their national government or -- should that government fail to satisfy their mandate -- through a second system of amendment. The Framers bequeathed us two methods of amendment so that our government and its actions will always be under our control, not the governments.
Perhaps its time for the American people to show that government whos in charge.
it is unconstitutional for congress to attempt to limit in any way an article v convention.
i would like to direct your attention to a federal suit dealing with the issue that this thread is concerned with, http://www.cc2.org
the site has links to the suit titled Walker v. Members of Congress (05-35023 U.S. Ninth Circuit Court). the evidence in this suit shows, based on the congressional record, that there are 567 state applications for a convention and congress via Laches is ignoring those applications and failing to carry out its constitutional obligation and issue the call to the states.
as to the graphic above in this thread, i consider it not only a scare tactic, but invalid since, of the 120,000,000 votes cast in the last presidential election, roughly a third were cast on electronic voting machines, the source code of which was kept in the hands of private corporations; and exit polls, which for over a hundred years have been used to certify elections, were, for the first time ever, flipped. so much the red you see in that graphic is actually manufactured.
for anyone interested please do visit the link as this suit is actually the only thing left that has any chance of reframing the political discourse, of altering Politics As Usual.
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