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Could a state delegation be recalled by its legislature and its call for a convention be rescinded during the convention?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

  • davidfarrar, the Constitution REQUIRES that any amendments be ratified by 3/4th of the States before they're part of the Constitution - PERIOD. 



    There're two means of PROPOSING amendments.

    

    1. Congress can propose amendments;
         
        

    A. If Congress proposes, it must be done by 3/4th of both Houses.
        
    

    2.  The State legislatures can call for a convention to propose amendments;

        

    B.  If the State Legislatures do it must be by 3/4th of the legislatures,
        

    C.  The convention itself can set either a majority or supermajority vote for submitting amendments to the states FOR ratification.

    The convention itself doesn't ratify the proposed amendments.

There's ONLY one means of RATIFYING amendments but two processes.

    

    3.  To be RATIFIED 3/4th of the States must approve of the proposed amendments.

        

    D. The State legislatures can do the ratification, OR;
        

    E.  State conventions can do the ratification.
        

    F. Congress, i.e., both Houses, chooses which of the two processes will be used, not the States.



    When all is said and done, THERE'S NO PROVISION for a simple majority of the States or Congress approving an Amendment - PERIOD.



    Article V of the Constitution  of the United States:

    

The Congress (1), whenever two thirds of both Houses (A) shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures (2) of two thirds of the several States (B), 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 (3) by the Legislatures (D) of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions (E) in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress (F); 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.

    Item C isn't specified therefore according to the 10th Amendment I believe it's left to the states to decide. Nor are proposed amendments put to a popular vote.

    Does this help or is it clear as mud. ;-)

  •  PHILIP SCHNEIDER,

    We still have government OF the people.  Proof of that is to be found EVERYWHERE.  Laws that begin NO PERSON SHALL... or ANY PERSON, FOUND... 

    What is MISSING it BY and FOR.  Those in D.C. ALL have the mistaken idea that we don't know enough to govern ourselves, and so must be governed, with a heavy hand so as to maintain control.  That's why we need to shed the 14th, 16th and 17th amendments.  They are MOSTLY why we have no power against 'them'.

    PHILIP SCHNEIDER's Page
    PHILIP SCHNEIDER's Page on Tea Party Command Center
  • So, look at the risks if we don't have a Constitutional Convention! We have a runaway Government and you don't call that risky? What is wrong with you so-called experts on this? We are talking about losing our Nation here if we don't take this measure up and it is like we don't have a choice! I think you are over concerned because I don't see the states becoming like this tyrannical Government we have and surely the states can't do any worse than what the Feds. have done. I really think the states can show restraint unlike the scum rats in Government. Government has no restraints anymore because they bypass the Constitution and the American People! You know we the people are supposed to be the employer but we aren't anymore. We have no voice left except for a Constitutional  Convention!

  • The convention's a great idea. It awakens the people more to what's happening and gets them involved and Sure can't hurt what's going on now.

  • There is one potential exception to the three/fourth rule for the adoption of any Article V amendment...and that is an "either/or" choice of two amendments. I say this because one of the most important decisions I think we, the People, must clear up as soon as possible, for the common good of the Republic, itself, is this business about what exactly is an Art. II, §I, cl. 4 natural born citizen. I won't go into all the reasons why it is so important other than to say, as a qualification of the two highest elected offices in the Republic, it has the very real potential of causing a great deal of division and strife but for the want of a simple, clear and concise definition. Moreover, the founders and framers of the US Const. were quite clear that this awesome power to set the qualifications of the president and vice-president of the United States must remain in the People's hands and not the courts or in the hands of Congress, where, sadly, it seems to have ended up today.

    To get a clear definition of an Art. II, §I, cl. 4 natural born citizen out of the Article V process, assuming  Congress fails to bring this question forward, two proposed amendments might be brought forward where a simply "majority"  of the states would decide the matter.

    I am just saying there may be other situations where it would be better to allow two proposed amendments to come out of this Article V "Amendment Convention", process and let the states, and the people,  decide which of the two they supported, rather than being strictly limited to the three/fourths rule.

    ex animo

    davidfarrar

  • I don't fear an Article V convention as much as I fear our current government!

    We the People no longer have a government

    -                                                               Of the People

    -                                                                By the People

    -                                                                For the People

  • 100% Fully agreed!   I am a member of the John Birch Society and in my opinion they have become a group of "wusses!"         I now throw my support in alliance with the PATRIOT groups springing up all over America!

  • It is clear that the Federal Government over the years have exceeded it's Constitutional authority over the States authority. Most of this has been done by the Federal Government controlling the money and by convincing the people that everything they do is for the people. An Article V convention should be held to keep in check the Federal Government
  • It does NOT take an Article V convention to stop this man in office from continuing his criminal behavior and his overriding of our current Constitution.    We simply need someone to stand up and enforce the law against domestic enemies.   He is an enemy to our Constitution and continually breaks the intended oath of a residing President.  . . . . We have so many communists in official positions that would be making the changes . . . and we certainly do not need the communists  changing our Constitution.      The founding fathers did spend time on their knees and did seek the guidance of our Heavenly Father . . . . who would the communists seek for their guidance? . . . . each other . . . . . Obama . . . . . . Muslims who want Sharia law . . . . ?     NO, to a convention!      If any of you think for one minute that these people will seek God for guidance, you have your head in the sand. . . . we have communists/muslim/socialist for an administration and/or congress/governors who are threatened by this Obama person . . . . .so, don't call it a noble project.  

  • There is no debate here, the Convention of States (COS), guided by God and Nature over us, must move forward. The end product will likely not be perfect, since it is prepared by sinners and flawed human beings, but it will be perfect enough.  We must move forward without delay on this noble project.

    Why?

    Congress and its King Government are out-of-control with accumulated debt so massive it threatens to collapse America. Clearly, Washington, Deceit needs to be supervised. COS MUST SET LIMITS ON FEDERAL SPENDING; IT IS OUR DUTY TO DO SO.

    Some 11 million illegal aliens inside USA who will further weight down said debt, who may lead to an unstable one-party system,  and a faithfully neglected US-Mexico border of sovereignty threatens our national security.  Where has Congress been since Truman on just this national security breach alone?  COS MUST SET LIMITS ON BORDER SECURITY; IT IS OUR DUTY TO DO SO.  

    America is hi-jacked by a Constitutionally-ineligible foreign-sympathies so-called President Soetoro-Obama who failed E-Verify!  How does Congress and the Judicial Branch allow this to continue?  COS  NEEDS TO CONSIDER DEFINITION OF "NATURAL-BORN CITIZEN" as (a) a person born in US jurisdiction, and (b) a person born with both mother and father being legally married citizens at time of birth through natural union and (c) other particulars as needed; IT IS OUR DUTY TO DO SO.

    The world is watching how a huge assembly of potentially chaotic citizens across America can restrain themselves to rationally engineer a comfortable consensus, and carefully construct vitally necessary Amendments to its sacred paid-for-in-blood US Constitution, a beacon of enlightenment for an otherwise dark and sinister humanity.  Our grandchildren will be watching as well.  The COS will succeed since we allow God and the Laws of Nature, not pandering politicians, to guide us as if we were doing this exercise, in part, in a calm, reflective place of worship.   IT IS OUR DUTY TO DO SO.

    Jonathan David Mooers, Structural Engineer (PE-MA, ME, NH, NY, RI), legal US Citizen since 1949

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