Forum Post: Do you want what ALEC & Koch want? An Article V Convention will solve all of their problems.
Posted 5 years ago on May 5, 2012, 9:37 p.m. EST by ericweiss
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"The Congress,...on the Applications of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments..."
Article 5 clearly gives the power to propose amendments exclusively to the convention.
This is explicit in the article, which sets up a 3 step process.
- State Legislatures apply to Congress to call a convention.
- Congress calls a convention while deciding other details - nothing in the Constitution requires nor guarantees that delegates to a con-con will be elected by the people.
- Subject to special interest lobbying groups, congress is given a free hand on selecting the delegates.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Arthur Goldberg has warned the nation that this absence of any guarantee of electing delegates could put the nation under the control of special interest groups. Writing for the Miami Herald, he stated, "...the absence of any mechanism to ensure representative selection of delegates could put a runaway convention in the hands of single-issue groups whose self-interest may be contrary to our national well-being.
The call is for proposing amendments to the Constitution.
This language clearly states that only the Convention is authorized to determine what subjects will be addressed in those amendments.
Many state legislatures have lost sight of the clear language of the U.S. Constitution - they attempted to dictate to a convention what amendments it could propose. They did this by stating in their ( illegitimate ) applications that they sought only a limited convention with authority to propose an amendment on a single subject. By issuing single-issue convention applications, legislatures sought to turn the process into a rubber stamp body; which could do only what the applications allowed. These unenforceable limitations defy the unintended purpose of the convention, which was to deliberate and decide what amendments to propose.
What happens if a legislature does include in its application limitations which try to force a convention to consider only one or a few subjects?
Most recent movement for a con-con has been dressed up as a movement to require Congress to call a convention for the limited purpose of proposing an amendment requiring a balanced budget; ban flag burning; ban abortion; redistricting; force federal spending reduction controls. Topics to which a convention is to be limited are always designed to be appealing to constituents and special interests.
Jurists agree that Congress has no authority to dictate what subjects to address for a convention. U.S. Supreme Court justices and the nation's leading legal scholars have written privately that these single-subject limitations cannot be enforced
Note that, as in the Philadelphia convention, voting would be one state one vote
California would have as much power as Delaware
Chief Justice of the United States Warren Burger wrote, "I have also repeatedly given my opinion that there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or to one issue but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey. After a convention is convened it will be too late to stop the convention if we don't like its agenda.
No one tells a con-con what to do. Whatever gain might be hoped for from a new
Constitutional Convention could not be worth the risk."
Similar views come from Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur J Goldberg. "I would say that one of the most serious problems Article 5 poses is a runaway convention. There is no enforcement mechanism to prevent a convention from reporting out wholesale changes to our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Moreover, the absence of any mechanism to ensure representative selection of delegates could put a runaway convention in the hands of single- issue groups, whose self interest may be contrary to our nations well being"
Rex E. Lee, former law school professor and later president of Brigham Young University wrote, "In our history we have only one experience with a Constitutional Convention - the 1787 convention itself was a definite runaway."
Of the same mind is Charles Allen Wright, a Professor of Law at the University of Austin. "I feel quite certain that even opening the door to the possibility of a constitutional convention would be a tragedy for the country."
Consider remarks of Professor of Stanford Law School Gunther: "A convention, once called, would be in the same position as the only other convention of this kind that we have had in our history-the 1787 Constitutional Convention that proposed the Constitution that we live under today - was a runaway convention."