Addressing the Eagle Forum’s Questions about an Article V Convention- Barry a. Schlech, Ph.D.

The Eagle Forum, as well as the John Birch Society, OPPOSE a Convention of States* for several reasons, mostly surrounding the risks of a “runaway convention”, the uncertainty of the convention process or the fear of an unwanted outcome. Although I personally respect and agree with many of the Eagle Forum’s and Phyllis Schlafly’s values and positions, I believe their stance on the Article V Convention is misguided.  The criticisms brought by the John Birch Society have been thoroughly addressed by Michael Farris** and by Professor Robert G. Natelson***.

I and the Texas Patriots Tea Party ardently support a Texas Legislature resolution calling for a convention of the states limited to proposing amendments to the United States Constitution that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.

Here are my responses to the fears and questions raised by the Eagle Forum:


QUESTIONS: DELEGATE SELECTION

How would Delegates be selected or elected to a Constitutional Convention?

What authority would be responsible for determining the number of Delegates from each state?

What authority would be responsible for electing the Delegates to the convention?

Would Delegates be selected based on Population, number of Registered Voters, or along Party lines?

Would Delegates be selected based on race, ethnicity or gender?

Could a state delegation be recalled by its legislature and its call for a convention be rescinded during the convention?

Would non-Delegates be permitted inside the convention hall?

Will demonstrators be allowed and/or controlled outside the convention hall?

Schlech RESPONSE: The State Legislatures would be responsible for selecting the number and appointing the delegates for their state delegation to the Convention of States. They could identify the delegates anyway they wish, e.g.. appointment, elections.  No matter how many delegates they assign to their specific delegation…that delegation would get only ONE vote on all issues at the Convention of States.  Remember it is a Convention of STATES and NOT a Convention of DELEGATES.  Selection of delegates on basis of race, ethnicity or gender is specifically forbidden by the 14th Amendment. Also, a state legislature may recall one or more of its delegates, but the legislature cannot rescind their application for a convention of states once it is filed. Also, as with most conventions, it would not be typical to have “non-delegates” on the floor of the convention or participate in any vote.  Non-delegates might be allowed in the gallery IF the Convention so approves. Regarding demonstrations: since we have the protection of the 1st Amendment and since most conventions have protestors outside the auditorium, this Convention of States would be no different and would not prevent groups from demonstrating peacefully outside the convention hall.

 


QUESTIONS: CONVENTION PROCESS ITSELF

What authority would be responsible for organizing the convention, such as committee selection, committee chairs and members, etc.?

How would the number of Delegates serving on any committee be selected and limited?

How would the Chair of the Convention be selected or elected?

What authority will establish the Rules of the Convention, such as setting a quorum, how to proceed if a state wishes to withdraw its delegation, etc.

Schlech RESPONSE: This Convention of States would be no different than ANY OTHER convention in its operation.  It would follow the normal American convention procedures and Robert’s Rules of Order in electing a chairman, appointing members of Rules & Resolution Committees, etc.  Each state would get ONE vote on any measures put before the convention.  It would be up to each state to determine how many delegates it wishes to send as part of their state delegation [e.g., 10, 20, 55, 124], but again, that state’s delegation would need to build a consensus and have ONE vote for their state.

 

QUESTIONS: CONVENTION VENUE

What authority would be responsible for selecting the venue for the Convention?

Where would the Convention be held?

Schlech RESPONSE: The U.S. Congress will establish the time and place for the Convention of States according to Article V.  If Congress takes an inordinate amount of time to decide the time and place, the state legislatures can override this decision and decide for themselves. The only function Congress has in this process is to call for a convention and set its time and place.

 

QUESTIONS: AMENDMENT APPROVAL

Would proposed amendments require a two-thirds majority vote for passage?

How would the number of votes required to pass a Constitutional Amendment be determined?

Would congress decide to submit Con Con [sic] amendments for ratification to the state legislatures or to a state constitutional convention as permitted under Article V of the constitution?

Schlech RESPONSE: DURING the convention, each Proposed Amendment needs to be approved by only a simple MAJORITY of  the STATES participating at the Convention of States and is ultimately sent to the 50 state legislatures for ratification.  If only 40 states participate in the Convention of States, then 21 states need to approve any proposed Amendment to be sent to the 50 state legislatures for ratification. Again, the power is with the state legislatures but Congress can decide if proposed Amendments would be ratified in each state by either the state legislature or by a state ratifying convention.

 

QUESTION: CONVENTION RISKS

What would happen if the Con Con [sic] decided to write its own rules so that 2/3 of the states need not be present to get amendments passed?

Schlech RESPONSE: The Convention of States is NOT a ConCon. It is NOT a convention to completely revamp our Constitution. It has a specific LIMITED agenda and it’s purpose is to PROPOSE Amendments to the U.S. Constitution for ratification by the states that falls within this specific limited agenda.

 

QUESTION: FUNDING

Who will fund this Convention?

Schlech RESPONSE: Who funds any Convention?  Interested parties provide the necessary funds to operate the convention.  It would be logical that each state legislature would participate in its funding.


QUESTION: UNCERTAINTY

If these questions cannot be answered (and they CANNOT), then why would any state legislator even consider voting for such an uncertain event as an Article V Constitutional Convention [sic]?

Schlech RESPONSE: These questions are reasonable questions but they CAN be answered as above, but they also show how uninformed the author is about Convention procedures and rules of order. They also show an extreme distrust of our state legislatures and our state legislators. Sure there could be a few really radical states, but NO Amendment would be passed on for ratification unless a MAJORITY of state delegations approve it at the Convention of States.  And ultimately, really crazy amendment proposals would not garner the 38 states needed for approval, ratification and adoption. Undoubtedly there will be many Amendments proposed that will not get this majority of approval. Any individual or group that opposes a Convention of States is obviously satisfied with the status quo in Washington DC and the seemingly unending power-mongering going on there. The fear of a “runaway convention” is offset by the EXISTING “runaway” of government spending, unconstitutional Executive Orders, power of unelected bureaucrats, unconstitutional legislation from the bench and total deafness to the electorate and citizen values. What could be more “runaway” than what we currently have in Washington? The power of the states has been totally ignored in the current process as Washington dictates what the states will do, when and where and how.  This is NOT the system that the Founders intended and they EXPECTED the states to assert their AUTHORITY OVER the Federal Government. We are frustrated every time any of the 3 branches seems to ignore or dishonor our Constitution. The Convention of States is a way to HONOR that Constitution and is ONE very bold way for the states to REGAIN this power that they have lost or given away over the last 8 decades. We support all 50 states in calling for a convention of the states specifically limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress. Washington’s current crop of federal actors will not do this on their own! The states must step up here. Texas must also participate in this process. The nation is counting on us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Improperly referenced by the Eagle Forum as a “Constitutional Convention” or “ConCon”

** Farris, Michael. Answering the John Birch Society Questions about Article V. Published by the Convention of States Project. {Mr. Farris is the Senior Fellow for Constitutional Studies at Citizens for Self-Govenance and  Chancellor of Patrick henry College]

*** Natelson, Robert G. Answers to Criticisms. [ Professor Natelson is the Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at Independence Institute and is one of America’s best-known constitutional scholars.]

 

Dr. Barry A. Schlech is a pharmaceutical microbiologist and worked in the pharmaceutical business for 39 years before becoming active in the tea party movement and conservative politics.  He is currently the VP for Communications and WebMaster for the Texas Patriots Tea Party in Burleson, Texas.

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Comment by Barry Wind on March 21, 2014 at 6:30am

This has to be carefully crafted in a way that we don't open the door to legal and illegal immigrants that can overwhelm the system by numbers and end with say sharia law or those who would get in power to push it on the country. We are trying to fix it according to the founding documents not to wind up worse off than the country is already.

Comment by Dwight Carmichael on March 21, 2014 at 5:43am

I think that the states wouldn't stand for that, nor do I think the House would either. Oh I believe he'll try. I just don't think he'll succeed.

Comment by Helen Simon on March 21, 2014 at 5:27am

I am on Eagle Forum's side with this issue. I listen to Levin a lot, but I am a Christian, and trust my Brothers more. This is a religious war, the God hating communists in control now, elitists including many rinos, who chose power and wealth over honoring God, and the God lovers who demonstrate it by their honor..Eagle Forum is proven and found honorable.

Comment by Donald Ross Hill on March 21, 2014 at 5:13am

Very interesting post. Useful information. I can only hope that this can be effectively accomplished before Mr. Obama performs another Executive order to stop it. And we all know he will try.

Comment by Oleg Gielman on March 21, 2014 at 5:08am
The Balance of Powers Act is designed to bypass the ConCon ...Google it, or find it on Patriots for America (PFA).
Comment by Jim Hood on March 21, 2014 at 5:07am

I would recomend that lawyers and current or past politicians be barred  from this convention.

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