Being Specific   Leave a comment

The Convention of the States organization proposes a unique method for states to propose amendments to the Constitution. At first, I thought it might not be constitutional, but I’m beginning to soften on that stance without actually relinquishing it.

Primarily, my reason for softening on this is that Congress is trying to nullify some of the state applications for a balanced budget amendment, saying that the applications must be precisely worded. We’re one application away from a convention of the states on a balanced budget amendment IF Congress doesn’t set any of them aside and my gut says they will if they can. Constitutional amendments do not fit the progressive agenda. If you can reform government through a careful method that’s been around for 230 years, it negates their arguments that the president needs vast powers, the administrative state should be in charge and the states should just go along with whatever the federal governments says.

I reread Article V and it doesn’t say the applications can’t be on a particular subject rather than a particular amendment. I can’t find such a limitation being discussed in the Federalists or in the various writings in the runup to ratification of the Constitution. If someone has something to show me wrong, please let me know.

I still hold that you can’t just apply for a convention without a specific topic. That’s a good protection that provides for an amendments convention rather than a constitutional convention and there is support in the Federalists for that stance.

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This is what COS says on its website:

Two goals separate our plan from all other Article V organizations:

1. We want to call a convention for a particular subject rather than a particular amendment. Instead of calling a convention for a balanced budget amendment (though we are entirely supportive of such an amendment), we want to call a convention for the purpose of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.

2. We believe the grassroots is the key to calling a successful convention.  The goal is to build a political operation in a minimum of 40 states, getting 100 people to volunteer in at least 75% of the state legislative district (that’s 3,000 districts).  We believe this is very doable. Only through the support of the American people will this project have a chance to succeed.

Our Solution is Big Enough to Solve the Problem

Rather than calling a convention for a specific amendment, Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) has launched the Convention of the States Project to urge state legislatures to properly use Article V to call a convention for a particular subject—reducing the power of Washington, D.C. It is important to note that a convention for an individual amendment (e.g. a Balanced Budget Amendment) would be limited to that single idea. Requiring a balanced budget is a great idea that CSG fully supports. Congress, however, could comply with a Balanced Budget Amendment by simply raising taxes. We need spending restraints as well. We need restraints on taxation. We need prohibitions against improper federal regulation. We need to stop unfunded mandates.

A convention of states needs to be called to ensure that we are able to debate and impose a complete package of restraints on the misuse of power by all branches of the federal government.

What Sorts of Amendments Could be Passed?

The following are examples of amendment topics that could be discussed at a convention of states:

  • A balanced budget amendment
  • A redefinition of the General Welfare Clause (the original view was the federal government could not spend money on any topic within the jurisdiction of the states)
  • A redefinition of the Commerce Clause (the original view was that Congress was granted a narrow and exclusive power to regulate shipments across state lines–not all the economic activity of the nation)
  • A prohibition of using international treaties and law to govern the domestic law of the United States
  • A limitation on using Executive Orders and federal regulations to enact laws (since Congress is supposed to be the exclusive agency to enact laws)
  • Imposing term limits on Congress and the Supreme Court
  • Placing an upper limit on federal taxation
  • Requiring the sunset of all existing federal taxes and a super-majority vote to replace them with new, fairer taxes

Of course, these are merely examples of what would be up for discussion. The convention of states itself would determine which ideas deserve serious consideration, and it will take a majority of votes from the states to formally propose any amendments.

The Founders gave us a legitimate path to save our liberty by using our state governments to impose binding restraints on the federal government. We must use the power granted to the states in the Constitution. 

The Grassroots

The leadership of the COS Project believes the success of a convention of states depends to a large extent on the American citizens. Our plan is as follows:

1. We seek to have a viable political operation that is active in at least 40 states.

2. Initially, we will focus on those 40 states, which have approximately 4000 state house districts. Our goal is to have a viable political operation in at least 3000 of these districts.

3. We will have 3000 district captains who will organize at least 100 people in each district to contact their legislator to support a convention of the states, and turn out at least 25 people per district at legislative hearings.

______________________

Lela – I’m not convinced this is the way to go, but I do find the argument compelling.

http://www.conventionofstates.com/learn-convention-states-0

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