5 Questions “Convention of States” Proponents Don’t Ask

CoS (Convention of States) proponents believe this claim by CoS speakers…“Convention of States is not a constitutional convention.”

CoS proponents could read the bills, and then ask these questions: 

1) Why does the Texas CoS application ( SJR2 – 85R ), apply for a “convention under Article V” and not a “Convention of States”?

If proponents’ claims are correct – that a “convention of states” is a unique process, not to be confused with our last national convention (1787 constitutional convention), the bill author would have made that distinction in the bill, don’t you think?  Or do the bill authors reject that CoS narrative?  This point begs the next question.

2)  Why did the co-authors of the CoS application in the 84th Texas legislature use “constitutional convention”, not “convention of states” in their “faithful delegate bills:

“A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT

relating to the qualifications, duties, and limitations of Texas delegates to a constitutional convention called under Article V of the United States Constitution.”[Emphasis added]

and…

Sec. 393.001.  DEFINITIONS.  In this chapter:

“Article V convention” means a constitutional convention called by the United States Congress under Article V of the United States Constitution.” [Emphasis added]

3)  Why do the faithful delegate bills acknowledge Congress or other bodies possessing first authority on the selection/appointment of Texas delegates? 

Example:

Sec. 393.052.  APPOINTMENT.  (a) As soon as possible following the calling of an Article V convention, the legislature shall appoint:

(1)  the number of delegates allocated to represent the state at the Article V convention and an equal number of alternate delegates; 

Allocated?  Allocated by whom?  Well, Congress of course under Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 18; a.k.a. the necessary & proper clause.

If Texas acquiesces to Congress or any other body, on Texas’ process to appoint/elect Texas delegates to a national convention to propose amendments, this is antithetical to the CoS narrative that the states will be in control.   If Texas won’t show intent to stand up as a free and independent state on her delegate selection, the logic that any convention under Art V will render a more perfect union loses all sound judgement and plausibility.

 

4)  Why did the 85th Texas Legislature vote affirmative (SJR38) to keep one application for a “constitutional convention” to propose a balanced budget amendment (BBA) alive?   

Forty years ago the 1977 Texas Legislature passed HCR31 applying to Congress for “a constitutional convention for the specific and exclusive purpose of proposing an amendment to the federal constitution requiring in the absence of a national emergency that the total of all federal appropriations made by the congress for any fiscal year may not exceed the total of all estimated federal revenues for that fiscal year” [emphasis added]

First, the 1977 BBA application would not curb federal spending because we’ve been under a constant declared national emergency since 1979.

Second, the 1977 BBA does not address spending, but does justify taxing to cover spending, thus moving from enumerated powers to unlimited spending powers.

Third, this 1977 application is for a “constitutional convention”.  Oops.  These same Texas legislators that abhor a “constitutional convention” but support a “convention of states” just got caught turning a blind eye to bill text.  This wasn’t the first nor will it be the last type incident.   When caught by voters, the legislative staff usually shoulders the blame. 

Fourth, for all the Republicans that voted “for” keeping the 1977 BBA application alive, plank#34 in the Texas GOP Platform supports rescinding this specific application.  It’s been in the platform for a few decades.

In short, the authors of the CoS application this year, lied about their intentions for a limited “Convention of States” over a runaway “constitutional convention”, thinking no one would read the old 1977 application and other bills.  They were right.  And no one did, at least not the Texas Legislature nor the CoS proponents.  Or did they?

5)  What amendments might come from a convention using the CoS application (SJR2)?

Although the language in SJR2 is broad enough to drive a Mack truck through, we don’t need to guess what amendments would be proposed using the CoS application (SJR2-Birdwell/King); we can look at the simulated convention (Sept 2016) hosted and paid for by The Convention of States Project.  133 invitation-only Republican legislators (4 of 137 were Democrats) most being authors of a CoS bill in their respective state, managed to propose amendments to expand federal powers, not shrink them.

If the CoS application doesn’t broaden federal powers in a real convention, we know that we can count on lobbyists to dust off two ready-made manifestos from the shelf:

One should be aware of the Constitution 2020 Movement: Funded by George Soros, with a lineup of contributing authors like Cass Sunstein.  “The Constitution in 2020 calls on liberals to articulate their constitutional vision in a way that can command the confidence of ordinary Americans.”

https://www.amazon.com/Constitution-2020-Jack-Balkin/dp/0195387961  

Sen. Birdwell (SJR2 author) can be seen in Senate floor archived video on the Texas Legislature website stating that the 1977 application for the BBA should be kept active because 28 states have made application, therefore Texas shouldn’t hinder a convention coming to fruition (Art V requires 34 states to make application for a national convention before Congress “shall call a convention”). 

An honest argument for keeping the 1977 BBA alive would have been “we want Congress to call a national convention and I will say or do anything to get one.”  After all, how does a nation go about creating and ratifying a different form of government (new constitution)?   Answer: The same way we discarded the Articles of Confederation in 1787 and ended up with our current constitution; they caucus in a national convention to propose amendments.  Our Declaration of Independence directs us to do so: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”.

A Better Solution

Would you allow your orthopedist to open you up on an operating table and conduct knee replacement surgery without a thorough set of x-rays to assess your knee first?  Why would you advocate for a new constitution if you don’t know what’s wrong with the current one?

Know what the constitution says now, before advocating for any amendments.  Start a small constitution class in your living room with like-minded neighbors as well as those you disagree with.  The constitution was created for anyone who treasures liberty.  A good source with video, printed Q&A, and syllabus for the novice is “The Constitution is the Solution”, a six-part lecture series on DVD, for $30.  All you have to do is facilitate the meeting.

If paper could control a tyrant, the constitution would have done that.  Article VI is the solution, not Article V.  #Article6not5

All power begins locally.  Every game has rules.  Learn the rules or you’re just white background noise to your government.

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