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Article V Convention Used in Attempt to Change Our Constitution (2 of 2)
“But, it is argued, if the United States convened such a constitutional convention its powers would be strictly limited by the enabling legislation which summoned it into being. And here precisely is the trouble. I do believe that any prior law, no matter how carefully drawn, cannot inhibit, or restrict, or delimit a constituent assembly once it convenes. Of course, those initiating the convention would say, ‘But its field of legal operation is limited. We have said so.’ My contention is that it cannot be so limited. At the moment a convention is assembled and sworn in, it becomes a self-directing body with only such limitations as it prudently places upon itself, and the prior constraints which have so carefully been placed upon it no longer apply.”
The problem with using a known means (a convention [outside of the myriad of uncertainties involved with it]) in an attempt to resolve a legitimate concern (national debt), is that devious ends may be the result (i.e., a replacement constitution). All that needs to be done is Google “Constitution for the NewStates of America” to see what one of our concerns are.
Some will say, looking at our Founding history, aside from our first runaway convention, conventions remained relatively civil. But a more complete history begs to differ.
In Federalist Paper No. 37 titled, “Concerning the Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a Proper Form of Government,” James Madison has this to say,“It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in [the convention] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.
“We had occasion, in a former paper, to take notice of the repeated trials which have been unsuccessfully made in the United Netherlands for reforming the baneful and notorious vices of their constitution. The history of almost all the great councils and consultations held among mankind for reconciling their discordant opinions, assuaging their mutual jealousies, and adjusting their respective interests, is a history of factions, contentions, and disappointments, and may be classed among the most dark and degraded pictures which display the infirmities and depravities of the human character.”
John Jay, who became the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, on September 9, 1777 had this to say: "The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon, and choosing the forms of government under which they should live. All other constitutions have derived their existence from violence or accidental circumstances."
Benjamin Franklin wrote to the Editor of the Federal Gazette, April 8, 1788 (The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Farrand’s Records, Vol. 3, CXCV, pp. 296-297; Documentary History of the Constitution, IV, 567-571) and had this to say, “I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general Convention was divinely inspired when it form’d the new federal Constitution…
yet I must own I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenc’d, guided and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent Beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live & move and have their being.”
Daniel Webster said of our first convention,
“Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in 6,000 years cannot be expected to happen often [or again].” (Emphasis mine.)
Whether created by Congress or convention, any balanced budget amendment will undoubtedly create more chaos than previously thought. A 2015 article on the web site of the Center for Effective Government (CEG) headlined, “Balanced Budget Amendment: Causes for Concern” says, “If Congress ignores the amendment, it would be up to the courts to enforce it, markedly increasing the courts' role in the budget process. However, it isn't clear if anyone has standing to sue the government to enforce a balanced budget amendment, as no one is harmed, while constitutional challenges to bills would take years, tying up the judicial system.” The courts may decide not to take such cases under the “political question doctrine,” leaving us in more confusion.
The CEG article also says,
“Balanced budget amendments rely on estimates and economic forecasts to set revenue and spending limits, yet none of the proposed amendments stipulate a referee that determines if a budget is in balance. Politicians could take advantage of this and create several versions of estimates, each suiting their own political agenda. Regardless, even the current budget referee, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is consistently off by hundreds of billions of dollars in its projections, calling into question whether a proposed budget is ‘balanced.’”(Emphasis mine.)
In a July 14, 2011 Heritage Foundation article, “Considering a Balanced Budget Amendment: Lessons from History” says at previous House and Senate hearings, there were efforts to take Social Security off budget in any proposed amendment. Quoting the article, it says, “The most prominently advanced effort to weaken a BBA is a provision to separate Social Security payments and receipts from the requirements for a balanced budget. Amendments to do so were offered in both the House and Senate from 1995 to 1997. Senator Harry Reid (D–NV) was a principal leader of that effort in 1997.
“Reid and others argued that removing Social Security from a BBA would protect the program from spending cuts. They argued that its funds do not actually constitute government spending since the program involves a trust fund. This ignored the fact that the entirety of the trust fund has been invested in federal bonds and that all of the borrowed money has been spent. Furthermore, during the 1990s, the Social Security program was producing annual surpluses ranging from $60 billion to $65 billion, which disguised deficit spending elsewhere. Today, Social Security runs an annual deficit.
“If Social Security were removed from a BBA’s requirements, Congress would be approving major deficit spending while not counting it as a deficit. Politicians would only be pretending to have balanced the budget. As the Congressional Budget Office reported this past January, ‘Excluding interest, surpluses for Social Security become deficits of $45 billion in 2011 and $547 billion over the 2012–2021 period.’”
Leaders in the Convention of States organization, who are currently the most vocal proponents of a States’ Convention by Constitutional provision Article V, will persistently deny that what they propose is a constitutional convention. Deceptive advocates for a particlar subject will always hope that those who would be their opponents should they have the right information, will never know the history of the deceptive advocates. In this case I am referring to co-founder and former National Coordinator for Tea Party Patriots and current President of Citizens for Self-Governance, Mark Meckler. The Conference of States organization is a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.
On September 24-25, 2011 at Harvard Law School, in what amounted to a mock constitutional convention, there was a “Conference of the Constitutional Convention” which was, “A project of Fix Congress First, the Tea Party Patriots, and Harvard Law School.” According to a September 26, 2011 article in The Harvard Crimson, a publication of Harvard Law School, titled, “Harvard Law School Hosts ‘Conference on the Constitutional Convention,’” there were “[a]pproximately 400 politicians, activists, and citizens from across the political spectrum convened this weekend at Harvard Law School to discuss the contentious possibility of holding a second constitutional convention.” To be fair at the time of the Harvard conference according to the Crimson article, Meckler was on the fence on whether or not to have a constitutional convention. Apparently he has been convinced to support a constitutional convention though he and his cohorts now refuse to call it as such because of the centuries old negative associations it has always had, namely that getting into an Article V Convention has the likelihood of amending our Sacred Document beyond recognition, or replacing it with a less than inspired one.
In considering amendments to the new constitution there was debate on what mode of amending it was more desirable, through Congress’ proposals, or through a convention. In a letter to George Lee Turberville dated November 2, 1788, Madison said, “Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second.”
With competing and contending advocacies at the Harvard conference that were, “contentious" as the author of the Crimson article witnessed, should we expect anything less at another Article V Convention? As evidenced by the Miracle of our only convention the Founding Fathers would think not. God would not look kindly upon any undertaking to undermine His Work.
At Farrand’s Records Volume 2, p. 632 - RECORDS OF THE FEDERAL CONVENVENTION, South Carolina delegate Charles Pinckney summed up perfectly the mood of the convention on a properly applied for Article V Convention when he said, “Nothing but confusion & contrariety could spring from the experiment. The States will never agree in their plans--- And the Deputies to a second Convention coming together under the discordant impressions of their Constituents, will never agree.” Pinckney then said,
“Conventions are serious things and ought not to be repeated.” (Emphasis mine.)
In a July 25, 2014 U.S. News & World Report article titled, “Beware the Balanced Budget Amendment; It may sound like a good idea, but it would create economic chaos,” it says, “The new long-term budget projections from the Congressional Budget Office tell a familiar story: If current tax and spending laws remain generally unchanged, the U.S. fiscal outlook is stable into 2020. CBO issued very similar projections last year, as did my Center on Budget and Policy Priorities colleagues this May. Our conclusion: ‘No deficit or debt crisis looms, and the weak labor market remains the nation’s most immediate economic concern.’”
Mark Meckler, in a May 6, 2015 article on the Citizens for Self-Governance web site, believes, because of the several 2016 Tea Party friendly declared presidential contenders, that, “a Tea Party president is now a very real possibility.”
And now, where, “No deficit or debt crisis looms,” with the largest Republican majority in the U.S. House since 1929, and a commanding 54 to 44 (with 2 independents) Republican Senate majority, many of whom are fiscal conservatives in both houses, and with the real prospect of voting in a conservative Republican president in 17 months, for the states that have not approved for an Article V Convention for a balanced budget Amendment or for any other matter, it would be wise to take a wait and see approach instead of diving head first into a convention.
Again, please reconsider these applications and then support rescinding them as soon as opportunity permits.
The following is a Florida rescission bill. Use it as model legislation to submit to your legislature.
HM 1129 2015
Page 1 of 2
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
1 House Memorial
2 A memorial to the Congress of the United States,
3 urging Congress to repeal and nullify all existing
4 applications by the Florida Legislature that call for
5 a constitutional convention.
7 WHEREAS, the Florida Legislature has previously made
8 applications to the United States Congress that call for either
9 limited or general constitutional conventions to amend the
10 United States Constitution, pursuant to the provisions of
11 Article V, and
12 WHEREAS, former United States Chief Justice Warren E.
13 Burger, former United States Associate Justice Arthur J.
14 Goldberg, and other leading constitutional scholars agree that
15 such a convention may propose sweeping changes to the United
16 States Constitution, creating imminent peril to the well-
17 established rights of the citizens and the duties of various
18 levels of government, and
19 WHEREAS, the United States Constitution, a sound document
20 that protects the lives and liberties of the citizens, has been
21 amended, and may again be amended, without a constitutional
22 convention, and
23 WHEREAS, there is no need for, and great danger in, opening
24 the United States Constitution to sweeping changes, creating
25 legal chaos in this nation, and beginning another two centuries
HM 1129 2015
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
Page 2 of 2
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
26 of litigation over the meaning and interpretation of the United
27 States Constitution, NOW, THEREFORE,
29 Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
31 (1) That all applications by the Florida Legislature to
32 the United States Congress that call for a constitutional
33 convention to amend the United States Constitution, pursuant to
34 the provisions of Article V, be repealed and nullified
35 regardless of when such applications were made or whether such
36 applications were for a limited or general constitutional
37 convention, and
38 (2) That every state legislature is urged to repeal and
39 withdraw any applications to the United States Congress that
40 call for a constitutional convention.
41 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be
42 dispatched to the President of the United States, to the
43 President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the
44 United States House of Representatives, and to each member of
45 the Florida delegation to the United States Congress.
For God and Country,
© 2015 Alexander Reagan