Why a Convention of States?
June 16, 2022
On a bumper sticker the statement, “It needs to be reread, not rewritten” overlaid a picture of the Constitution. It appears to oppose a Convention of States but, at the same time, it showed ignorance of what the COS truly is. Until about three months ago I said the same. Then HJ0002, Convention of States, tweaked my curiosity and I had to actually research the COS rather than just listen to what others had to say. It didn’t take me long to realize they were wrong and didn’t have a clue about the COS. Now I understand the only people who should fear a COS are federal officials, members of Congress and Leftists.
The Convention of States is often confused with a Constitutional Convention, compounded by people on both sides of the political aisle. A Constitutional Convention would be held with the intent to rewrite the Constitution. Everything is on the table. Not good. A COS is held to propose specific amendments to the Constitution, a completely different process. In order to hold a COS two-thirds of the states (34) must ratify the exact same resolution and that’s all that can be discussed. The COS is the method provided to the states to amend the Constitution when Congress fails to act.
Contrary to popular belief, Congress has no role in the COS except for setting the time and location. Even then, if they fail to act, the states can do it themselves. States are permitted to send as many delegates as they choose but each state gets only one vote. Proposals that pass are sent to the states for ratification. Thirty-eight states must ratify the proposal for it to become an amendment. It is intentionally difficult to pass amendments to the Constitution.
For the proposed COS only three topics are on the table: 1) limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, 2) impose fiscal restraints, 3) and place term limits on federal officials. Nothing else can be discussed because that’s all the states have agreed to. If states pull out, reducing the number below 34, the COS is voided. South Carolina recently became the 19th state to ratify the COS resolution. North Carolina and Ohio are pending a Senate vote. Wyoming legislators appear terrified of the COS, though I don’t understand why. Representative Ecklund understands and supports the COS. South Carolina’s Governor said it best after his state overwhelmingly passed the resolution in April.
“After the American Revolution, the sovereign States—through their people—held all governmental powers. For the convenience and good of all, they assembled to create a new government—national in scope—and gave it only specific, enumerated powers to perform certain functions, such as establishing a military force, creating a common currency and a uniform system of weights and measures, and regulating interstate commerce—functions the States could not efficiently perform individually.
These powers are listed in Article I. The States retained all other powers—all of them—to themselves for their sovereign exercise. Two years later, ten amendments were added to make even more emphatic the strict limits on the new national government’s power.
Thusly were the liberties of future generations to be preserved, protected, and defended.
Over the years, South Carolinians, like all Americans, have witnessed an unprecedented expansion in the size and scope of this federal government. Along with increasing instances of overreach and intrusions into the affairs of—and matters expressly reserved to—the States, we have observed, with little-to-no recourse, the federal government spending and borrowing money at dangerous levels to fund this growth in government.
Efforts to rein in federal spending and reduce the national debt have repeatedly met resistance from the parties in power at the time. It has become clear that Congress is unwilling or unable to set aside its self-serving institutional interests in preserving and expanding the size and reach of the federal government.
Thus, any initiative to reduce the size of the federal government must originate elsewhere.
As elections have repeatedly failed to reverse this course, I believe that the time has come to utilize the mechanism expressly available to the States in Article V, often called a “Convention of States.”…
Serious concerns have been raised about the potential consequences of convening an Article V Convention. I share these concerns. I view our Constitution as the most remarkable governmental document in human history. Some leaders foresee a “runaway” convention which could propose amendments beyond the scope of the call. Others prefer that we depend on enlightened future electorates.
I see it a little differently. I see the ever-increasing size and scope of the federal government as the larger threat. I believe that our dangerous situation is a product not of imprecision by the Constitution’s Framers but of activist judges who have ignored the Constitution’s text to advance their own policy goals, and the self-centered ambitions of too many office holders.
I believe our situation will only get worse—and more difficult to correct—with time. …
I do not think these serious theoretical concerns warrant opposing a narrowly tailored Article V Convention at this time. I believe that the Founding Fathers included sufficient safeguards in Article V to mitigate the risks of a “runaway” convention.
Article V’s requirement that three-fourths of the States must ratify any proposed constitutional amendment is designed to ensure that proposed amendments which would alter or take away fundamental constitutional rights—such as those enshrined in the Second Amendment—would not become law. This—and the active awareness and support of the people—constitutes our strongest assurance. Governor Henry McMaster, South Carolina, April 13, 2022
Please research the Convention of States for yourself. Don’t just listen to what other people assume it is. Article V of the Constitution is short and very clear, needing no interpretation. It doesn’t even need a lawyer to explain it. Then start contacting our legislature and encourage them to pass the COS resolution.