The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article V of the Constitution of the United States of America which outlines two ways for amendments to be made to the Constitution: “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….”
This provision explains that Congress has the authority to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. If Congress fails to act or the people take matters into their own hands, the Legislatures in two thirds of the States can call for a Constitutional Convention. Congress has chosen not to act; therefore, calls have gone out to the Legislatures of all fifty States, asking for their support to hold a Constitutional Convention.
According to my figures, two thirds of 50 States s 34; therefore, I have no idea how people have come to the conclusion that 38 State Legislatures need to vote for a Constitutional Convention. The additional three states may be needed because some states have opted in and then opted out. At any rate, I received an email calling for a Convention and asking me to forward it to fifteen people. This email claims that 35 states have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them.
The reason people are calling for a Constitutional Convention is their lack of trust in Congress. Many of our representatives in Congress do not seem to care about the people and seem to consider themselves to be in a privileged class. An example would be to exempt members of Congress and their families from the Healthcare Reform that they approved for the “lowly” citizens of America – WE THE PEOPLE.
A proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows: “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators [and/or] Representatives of Congress; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.”
I do not know how I feel about holding a Constitutional Convention. I believe the proposed 28th Amendment is a good idea, but I do not know if we can trust the people attending the Convention to do the right thing for the people. The Constitution of the United States of America is a precious document that we must preserve and protect for the benefit of the entire world. We must be careful that we do not allow the amendment process to be misused.
This provision was instituted to give the people an alternative method to change the Constitution without going through Congress. There have been attempts to call for a Constitutional Convention previous to the current attempt, but they have all been unsuccessful. The reason they have failed is because Congress acted.
W. Cleon Skousen explained, “The Congress has been anxious to prevent this second method from being used, so whenever nearly two-thirds of the states have petitioned for a convention, the Congress has capitulated and passed the amendment itself. This is what happened with the Seventeenth Amendment [the way Senators are elected].
“It was the intent of the Founders to provide this second method of amending the Constitution as a protection against a hierarchy of power that might take over Washington and become a self-perpetuating demagoguery which the people could not control. Such a situation arises when an oligarchy of wealth or a structured power bloc gains control of the following: (1) The leadership of both political parties; (2) The majority of the Supreme Court; (3) The majority of the Congress; (4) The White House; (5) The media; and (6) The major centers of education and intellectual opinion making.
“This much control over a nation completely debilitates the normal operation of constitutional procedures. The Founders therefore provided this special safety net in Article V to allow the people to regain control of their affairs without even going through Washington….
“Probably the only reason why this procedure has been used so rarely in the past is the general misunderstanding of how it is supposed to work.
“The greatest concern about this second procedure has been the fear that a constitutional convention called by the states might become a `runaway convention’ and set up a radical new constitution….
“…There are already a number of amendments pending on the basis of state conventions. One of them is the Balanced Budget Amendment. Another is the Prayer Amendment.” (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, 647-648.)
Trent England and Matthew Spalding of The Heritage Foundation further explained: “Since 1789, over 5,000 bills proposing to amend the Constitution have been introduced in Congress; thirty-three amendments have been sent to the states for ratification. No attempt by the states to call a convention has ever succeeded, though some have come within one or two states of the requisite two-thirds. The movement favoring direct election of Senators was just one state away from an amending convention when Congress proposed the Seventeenth Amendment.
“Because no amending convention has ever occurred, an important question is whether a convention can be limited in scope, either to a particular proposal or within a particular subject. While most calls for amending conventions in the nineteenth century were general, the modern trend is to call for limited conventions. Some scholars maintain that such attempts violate Article V and are therefore void. Other questions include the practical aspects of how an amending convention would operate and whether any aspects of such a convention would be subject to judicial review.
“Much greater certainty exists as to the power of Congress to propose amendments….
“Since 1924, no amendment has been proposed without a ratification time limit, although the Twenty-seventh Amendment [regarding pay raises for Congress], proposed by Madison in the First Congress more than two hundred years ago, was finally ratified in 1992. Regardless of how an amendment is proposed, Article V gives Congress authority to direct the mode of ratification….
“Although some scholars have asserted that certain kinds of constitutional amendments might be `unconstitutional,’ actual substantive challenges to amendments have been unsuccessful….
“In the end, the Framers believed that the amendment process would protect the Constitution from undue change at the same time that it would strengthen the authority of the Constitution with the people. `The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government,’ George Washington wrote in his Farewell Address of 1796. `But the Constitution which at any time exists, ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all.’” (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, 285-286.)
It seems to me that our nation has nearly met all six conditions put forth by Skousen; however, I believe there are enough good men and women in Congress to hold back the evil that is all around us. We have steadily increased the number of conservatives in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. These new conservatives are blocking progressives like John McCain in the Senate, and Representatives like Trey Gowdy keep House Speaker John Boehner’s toes to the fire.
I still have hope for our nation because of these new conservatives. They have obviously slowed the progressive agenda that was blazing when Barack Obama first took office. More stops are needed to derail the agenda, but people are working on it.