Sunday, October 17, 2010

Constitutional Convention

[from JohnS - image of original constitutional convention added by Ira]

Is a constitutional convention the answer?
Many emails are circulating proposing one for various causes.

Article V of the Constitution provides for a Constitutional Convention to propose Amendments to the Constitution if two thirds of the State Legislatures call for it. That is 34 State Legislatures. (Article V appears at the end of this posting). Governors of 35 States have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It is about time that the States and people stand up and demand a Constitutional Convention amending the Constitution. Note, although only 34 States are required to call a Convention 38 States are required to ratify any Amendments proposed by the Convention.

Would this be a good objective for the Tea Party movement?

This could be a major but necessary undertaking because our Federal Government is so complex, so out of control and is failing to represent the people, however, the Convention could address each issue separately and present them as individual amendments to be ratified by the States while the Convention addresses the other issues.

I would like to propose several issues if such a convention was formed.

1. We have runaway spending by the Presidency and Congress. Both parties are at fault. This spending must be reined in by a better taxation system and by enacting a balanced budget amendment.

2. Amendment 10, a part of the Bill of Rights, delegates to the States and the people all rights not prohibited by the Constitution. This has been abused in many ways over the last 50 years or so. New Amendments are needed to return the power to the States that has been abrogated by the Federal Government.

3. Amendment 4, a part of the Bill of Rights, gives the right to the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects. Again, this right has been slowly eroded over the years and needs to be restated in a manner that protects the people in view of new technology, which has the potential to spy on us even within our home.

4. Along the same vein, many laws restrict what we can do or cannot do within our own homes these restrictions are also a violation of the 4th Amendment.

5. Congress has abused its privileged position by providing for itself rights, benefits, etc, that it denies to the people. Several Amendments or a multipurpose Amendment is required to correct these abuses. For example, we need term limits for the Congress and insure Congress perks and benefits are no better than available to all.

6. We spend billions of dollars overseas giving to other nations money that could be better used here in the United States. This must be addressed.

7. George H W Bush, George W Bush and Barack Obama have and are improperly using our military in Iraq Afghanistan and elsewhere. The mission of the Military in today’s environs needs further examination.

8. As a last point, although I suspect that others will rear their heads, for example I read today that Obama care will be forming 160 new Commissions and Bureaus. Do we need them, what will be their jobs and how many. We need a commission to examine and recommend to the Convention changes in the size, functions, budgets and personnel levels of the entire Federal Government.

Article V

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.


Bill Walker said...

The author fails to mention the states have already applied in sufficient number to cause a convention call. See to read the over 700 applications from 49 states.

Ira Glickstein said...

Thanks Bill Walker for your comment and your link to Friends Of the Article V Convention.

I found the FAQ particularly instructive.

(See also Wikipedia.)

You are correct that there have been hundreds of applications for an Article V covention from nearly all states. The problem is that some authorities say the applications from states must specify the issues to be dealt with (to prevent the convention from having an open agenda). Furthermore, the calls for those specific issues must come in relative time proximity such that 2/3 of the states have called for a convention on a given set of issues. The reason an Article V Convention has not yet been called is because we have not yet met these conditions.

Perhaps, as JohnS suggests, this could be a useful unifying project for the Tea Party movement after what seems to be shaping up as a major political victory in the election 15 days from today. I would like to see the Tea Party propose a rather narrow set of issues and press for 34 states or more [2/3 of the states] to adopt identical language in their applications. Even if unsuccessful, this type of project would keep the pot boiling!

As for the practicality of actually holding such a convention, I think it would be prudent to do it very carefully because there are so many open questions. Your FAQ raises the questions and answers them, but I am not sure you can get general agreement.

What do the others on this Blog think?

Ira Glickstein

JohnS said...

Thanks Bill and Ira, I don't pretend that I have all of the answers. In my limited research, I did not find a precise formula to initiate a call. I do believe it can be done if there is a sufficient outcry. My thought is to keep the idea before the people and see what happens. It might be best if the first attempt is limited to a single, specific issue such as term limits that can be clearly defined.