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Convention of the States: Yes, No, and a Third Option

Many have felt that the federal government has usurped powers that were not delegated to it, as well as commandeered the powers delegated to the state and the people respectively. We feel a loss of freedom, while the federal government is growing more and more socialistic. In exasperation, many have suggested the need to call for a Convention of the States or Constitutional Convention (Con-con). Those that have argued for a constitutional convention have proposed the following six amendments to be approved and implemented:

  1. The public debt shall not be increased except upon a recorded vote of two-thirds of each house of Congress.
  2. Term limits on Congress
  3. Limiting federal overreach by returning the Commerce Clause to its original meaning
  4. Limiting the power of federal regulations by giving an easy congressional override
  5. Require a supermajority for federal taxes and repeal the 16th Amendment
  6. Give the states (by a 3/5ths vote) the power to abrogate any federal law, regulation, or executive order.

The Idaho Legislature is contemplating a bill–right now–on this topic. But, should we? I want to lay out the pro and cons of the topic of having a Constitutional Convention and to present an alternative. There is a better way.

Pro

Those that argue for a Constitutional Convention, talked about a runaway Washington, D.C with no practical way to right the ship. To fix the problem, they want to organize a convention, construct, and implement the above-proposed amendments to the Constitution. The proponents of the convention have not indicated that they will stay with the above six amendments only.

Cons

The argument against a Constitutional Convention is that once convened, the delegates could make any changes to the Constitution. The original Constitutional Convention took place in 1787, and it abolished the then constitution, known at that time as the Article of Confederation, altogether. Rather than fixing the constitution, we run the risk of losing the Constitution altogether.

Additional Resources

I believe the supporters of a new Constitutional Convention have the best interest of our nation at heart. They are like-minded in the spirit and soul of our founders who are known as s patriots. I want to present two prospective perspectives from our founding fathers on this issue:

James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, wrote Federalist 49. He warned against having another Constitutional Convention, as it will be voted along the political party line, and fueled by the passion of the people rather than well-thought-out reasons. Note, to understand this argument, one must read Federalists 36 and 37 where Madison detailed the quality of the delegates and by what power they were guided by (God).

Following Madison’s argument, I do not trust that 34 states could send delegates with the proper understanding and spirituality to be in a convention, as our constitution was written for a moral people who subjected themselves to God. Morality itself is no longer governed by nature’s God, but each individual’s personal beliefs with no rod by which to measure right from wrong.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the brightest presidents we had, foresaw the situation that we are in, wrote (Jefferson letter to Major Cartwright) that if America should have a second constitutional convention, we need to do the following first:

  1. The citizens need to organize themselves first. We call these grassroots organizations. He called this groups Wards. Group of citizens that get together to help each other, discuss the events of our nation, and act accordingly.
  2. Strengthen the states, as each of them must recognize their duty to resist the federal government.

Only after these conditions are fulfilled will we be able to have a successful constitutional convention.

Majority

Article V of the Constitution delineated several scenarios where a constitutional convention is called, along with the number of states needed to pass or ratify an amendment to the Constitution, two-thirds or three-quarters of the total states. So, which is it? Note that the supporters of the Convention of the States affirm a two-third majority is needed to call for a convention. 

The confusion came in 1913 when the 16th and the 17th were passed by the federal Legislative Branch on a two-thirds majority but were not sent to the States to be ratified. Since that time, the amendment process was “relaxed.” Following that argument, the supporters of a Constitutional Convention affirm that 34 states are needed to call for a convention or to force a passage of the amendment. In this case, I tend to agree with them.

Alternative

Following these lines of argument, I see an alternative. The objective of the Constitutional Convention is to establish a list of amendments to resist the usurpation of the federal government. 

Additionally, the Idaho GOP Platform further indicates that it would support an amendment to rescind the 17th Amendment (election of US Senators by popular votes). Idaho alone cannot do it. But, if 33 other states pass a similar bill, then a new amendment is formed.

In other words, Idaho can pass a Constitution Amendment bill, work with 33 other states to pass it. We will have a new Amendment. Bypassing all the negative consequences of a convention. And duplicate the effort for the other amendments contemplated by the proponents of the Convention of the States.

Art da Rosa, PE, MPA
State Senate Candidate, Dist 28

Jenny Smith
Restore Liberty in Idaho

3 replies on “Convention of the States: Yes, No, and a Third Option”

While mentally “wringing my hands” over what has taken place in our country, I recently came across references to something called “A Convention of States”. Now before anyone reacts negatively, as I did a year ago, thinking it was just new wording for a “Constitutional Convention” and immediately slammed the door shut on such a suggestion. But I was wrong, they are not the same.

Like many seniors who were taught about the Constitution in school, we covered what a Constitutional Convention might bring about. And the dangers in doing so.

However, do not confuse Convention of States (COS) with Constitutional Convention (Con-con?) A Convention of States has specific limitations.

I urge readers to ask the question: What is the difference between a Convention of States and a Constitutional Convention? Many will be surprised, as I was. And after doing so, I started asking a few others in our over 65 age group, did they know the difference……and these are intelligent, patriotic concerned citizens who didn’t know either! It takes some study and consideration, and I may be wrong or have missed something, but could a Convention of States be the answer when all else seems to be failing? To those out there smarter than I in these matters, please look into this….

No constitutional convention- This would be very dangerous as the common man is unable to rule himself, let alone, revindicate the origingal intent of the contstitution.
Solution ? Grass root count/ward education assemblies, using committees of correspondence/ local small groups promoting the USE OF our Lawful Maxims of Law-Law based on common sense and Natures Law- Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, and the Northwest Ordinance, thereby circumventing corrupted admiralty law courts, our broken Republic.

My partner & I agree with you. We think the author of this article brought forward an issue which needs more attention than it has been getting and did an excellent job in doing so, except for the first paragraph which prompted my first response so as not to confuse the Convention of States with a Constitutional Convention.
We are still working to fully digest the meaning of his proposal and his third option based on Article V.
My concern for what is happening to our country has forced me out of my comfort zone and signing up to run for an unpaid volunteer position as a committee person. The purpose is to become a part of a community voice representing the concerns of local citizens & businesses in my neighborhood.
Committeemen are elected by voters to serve their community and can carry the voter’s concerns more powerfully forward to elected officials as they also have a voice in the selection of electors for general elections.
This is my first “political step” as a concerned citizen and I urge others to recognize the need for participation and service at the local grassroots level. Your committeemen/women can help accomplish this, as they can help carry your voice to our legislators.

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