Organization Trends

Taking Back America the Constitutional Way

Is it time for a convention of the states?

Summary: The Convention of States Project aims to curb the powers of the long out-of-control federal government by pursuing a state-initiated convention to amend the Constitution. No such convention has ever occurred, although Article V of the Constitution permits the process. Many observers may suspect that this push is a fringe effort with little support. Yet serious scholars have begun to support it, and the group behind it has considerable—and growing—grassroots support.

America is a mess. No matter who is in power, the government of the United States keeps getting bigger and less accountable to those it is supposed to serve. Elections, some opine, are largely meaningless. The nation’s unpitying drift to the Left and to increasingly centralized, sclerotic, Western European-style governance with its cradle-to-grave welfare states seems unstoppable. To patriots—that is, to people who support limited government, individual rights, fiscal responsibility, and the rule of law, the future seems bleak.

It was never supposed to be this way.

The Constitution was supposed to protect Americans from what its principal architect, James Madison, termed in Federalist 48 an “ELECTIVE DESPOTISM,” spelling the phrase in all-caps so it screamed out from the page.

Today some observers fear we’re sliding into just what Madison hoped to avoid. “The Statists have been successful in their century-long march to disfigure and mangle the constitutional order and undo the social compact,” author, broadcaster, and Landmark Legal Foundation president Mark Levin writes in his 2013 book, The Liberty Amendments.

“The nation has entered an age of post-constitutional soft tyranny,” he writes (italics in original). To explain the concept of “soft tyranny,” Levin quotes that great observer of American society, Alexis de Tocqueville, who warned in his classic study Democracy in America (1835) that a declining United States could produce a new kind of petty tyranny never before seen:

It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

Tocqueville accurately predicted America’s future, Levin argues. In modern America:

Social engineering and central planning are imposed without end, since the governing masterminds, drunk with their own conceit and pomposity, have wild imaginations and infinite ideas for reshaping society and molding man’s nature in search of the ever-elusive utopian paradise. Their clumsy experiments and infantile pursuits are not measured against any rational standard. Their piousness and sanctimony are justification enough.

Congress is out of control, Levin writes, operating “not as the Framers intended, but in the shadows, where it dreams up its most notorious and oppressive laws, coming into the light only to trumpet the genius and earnestness of its goings-on and to enable members to cast their votes.” Anyone who watches C-SPAN, with its gavel-to-gavel coverage of fat-cat elected officials endlessly congratulating themselves for their selfless public service, knows this is true.

Alexis de Tocqueville warned in his classic study Democracy in America (1835) that a declining United States could produce a new kind of petty tyranny never before seen.
Credit: Théodore CHASSERIAU (1819 – 1856). License:

Congress unconstitutionally delegates its powers to “a gigantic yet ever-growing administrative state that, in turn, unleashes on society myriad regulations and rules at such a rapid rate the people cannot possibly know of them, either—and if, by chance, they do, they cannot possibly comprehend them.”

What was supposed “to be a relatively innocuous federal government, operating from a defined enumeration of specific grants of power, has become an ever-present and unaccountable force. It is the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, health-care provider, and pension guarantor.”

The federal government lords over both the states that came together in 1776 to form the United States and also those that were subsequently admitted to the Union. It routinely impinges on and overrules states’ “rights”—a misnomer because they are actually powers—interfering in the lives of the people of those states.

The states’ enfeeblement is reflected in the way no one calls this now grammatically singular sovereign entity these United States anymore. It is always the United States today. The states are treated as afterthoughts.

This goes against the intentions of the Framers, who “rightly insisted on preserving the prominent governing role of the state legislatures as a crucial mechanism to containing the power” of the federal government, Levin writes. “In fact, other than the limited, specified powers granted to the federal government, the states retained for themselves plenary governing authority.”

In Federalist 45 Madison argued, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

States, Levin admits, are not “perfect governing institutions.” Many “are no more respectful of unalienable rights than is the federal government,” but the Framers intended that the states retain for themselves “significant authority to ensure the republic’s durability.” The Constitution aimed to diversify authority “with a combination of governing checks, balances, and divisions, intended to prevent the concentration of unbridled power in the hands of a relative few imperfect people.”

Over time, various government-limiting mechanisms in the Constitution that were intended as vital elements in the self-correcting American system fell into disfavor and disuse. As the republic aged, each successive generation cared slightly less about the contents of the Constitution, especially the parts that limited governmental power. Eventually, thanks largely to leftists, we reached a point at which Americans stopped being taught civics almost altogether, and interest in constitutional provisions came to be viewed as a quaint, anachronistic waste of time, like the false science of alchemy. The Left’s relentless push for government-provided security has over time eroded the support that many Americans feel for liberties and rights that the Founders took for granted.


The desire for bold reforms

Drastic change is needed. The American people agree. This is why they elected to the White House a flamboyant, eccentric political novice who promised bold reforms. They want the Washington, D.C. “swamp” drained. They’re fed up and for good reason.

As America moves farther and farther from her founding principles, elections don’t count for much. “We keep changing personnel and hoping it will fix the problem but the problem is structural,” says Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance, the parent organization of the Convention of States Project.

“So if we put good people in, we still get bad results. We have a fiscal house that is a disaster. The federal government is out of control. It will never rein itself in.”

The fact that the federal government’s books are fiction doesn’t help. “There is nothing real about government accounting,” says Meckler. “We need a constitutional amendment to impose generally accepted accounting principles on the feds.

Even when spending cuts are promised, overall federal spending continues on its upward trajectory because Official Washington operates in the make-believe world of “baseline budgeting.” According to this perverse method of accounting, both a cut and an increase may count as cuts.

Confused? You’re supposed to be.

Baseline budgeting allows politicians to pretend to reduce expenditures while they actually boost expenditures. As Citizens Against Government Waste explains, in D.C. jargon, “The baseline includes automatic adjustments for inflation and anticipated increases in program participation. Baseline, or current services, budgeting, therefore builds automatic, future spending increases into Congress’s budgetary forecasts.” So, if the federal budget is slated under the rules of baseline budgeting to rise by, say, $1 trillion, but it rises only $750 billion, the Congressional Budget Office will claim the budget has been “cut” by $250 billion. The “cut” is really just a reduction in projected spending.

When I was a reporter in the D.C. bureau of The Bond Buyer newspaper, I regularly had run-ins with analysts at the left-wing Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). An article I wrote in 2004 illustrates the cognitive dissonance that some Washingtonians can achieve. At that time President Bush proposed appropriating $16.9 billion in Section 8 housing voucher subsidies for fiscal 2005, which was higher than the $16.4 billion appropriated the previous year.

A sane person would look at the two figures and conclude that $16.9 billion was $500 million more than $16.4 billion. But the leftists at the CBPP argued that after taking into account inflation and other factors, the $16.9 billion would be a funding cut. Instead of being honest and saying that they believed the $500 million wasn’t enough of an increase, CBPP analysts lied, claiming the increase was a cut.

Official Washington radiates this kind of entitlement mentality, and that ugly sentiment shows no signs of abating. Unless, perhaps, a state-initiated constitutional convention takes place that fundamentally changes the way federal officials view your tax dollars.

The amending process

The change that needs to happen could be accomplished by popular unrest generated by community organizers, by civil war and secession, or it could be accomplished peacefully by following an orderly, constitutionally prescribed process.

Amendments to the Constitution have been relatively rare, and a state-convened convention to propose amendments has never occurred, yet the Constitution itself allows for such drastic adjustments, and many sober jurists and statesmen have argued that the amending process can help if the nation begins to become disordered. Consider, for example, the views of Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845), a Supreme Court justice best known for writing the opinion in the Amistad case that Steven Spielberg immortalized in his movie of the same name. Story was also the author of the magisterial Commentaries on the Constitution (1833) and the son of a Boston Tea Partier.

Article V contains a long-ignored provision that requires Congress to call a constitutional convention when the legislatures of two-thirds of the states demand it; something that has never happened. Credit: Convention of States Project; YouTube screenshot. License:

Article V of the Constitution serves, Justice Story said, as a “safety valve” for American society because it allows changes to be made to the structure of the nation’s great national charter (Commentaries on the Constitution 3:§§1821-24). Story wrote that the need for an amending mechanism was self-evident:

A government, which, in its own organization, provides no means of change, but assumes to be fixed and unalterable, must, after a while, become wholly unsuited to the circumstances of the nation; and it will either degenerate into a despotism, or by the pressure of its inequalities bring on a revolution. It is wise, therefore, in every government, and especially in a republic, to provide means for altering, and improving the fabric of government, as time and experience, or the new phases of human affairs, may render proper, to promote the happiness and safety of the people.

Similarly, the judicious St. George Tucker (1752-1827) — who published an influential early American version of Blackstone’s Commentaries and supported the emancipation of slaves — praised the Constitution because it “provides a safe, and peaceable remedy for its own defects, as they may from time to time be discovered” (Blackstone’s Commentaries 1: App. 371-72):

A change of government in other countries is almost always attended with convulsions which threaten its entire dissolution; and with scenes of horror, which deter mankind from any attempt to correct abuses, or remove oppressions until they have become altogether intolerable. In America we may reasonably hope, that neither of these evils need be apprehended; nor is there any reason to fear that this provision in the constitution will produce any degree of instability in the government; the mode both of originating and of ratifying amendments, in either mode which the constitution directs, must necessarily be attended with such obstacles, and delays, as must prove a sufficient bar against light, or frequent innovations.

America need not follow a violent, disruptive path in order to correct national problems.

In Federalist 43, Madison made the case to the American people for Article V’s formula for amending the Constitution. The at-the-time unratified Constitution, he wrote, “equally enables the general [today we would say, “federal”] and the state governments to originate the amendment of errors as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side or on the other.”

The people of the several states, represented by their state legislatures, needed to approve the original Constitution in order for it to take effect. This is as it should be, Madison wrote. The people “are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived” (Federalist 49).

Amendments to the Constitution should also have to be approved by the states: “it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory,” Madison continued, “to recur to the same original authority”—that is, We the People—“not only whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of government; but also whenever any one of the departments may commit encroachments on the chartered authorities of the others.”

Article V empowers Congress to propose constitutional amendments, something it has done dozens of times. But it also contains a long-ignored provision that requires Congress to call a constitutional convention when the legislatures of two-thirds of the states—today, 34 of the 50 states—demand it, something that has never happened.

The actual wording of Article V states:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, 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 by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; 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.

To come into force, the amendments would have to be ratified either by 38 state legislatures or by 38 state constitutional ratification conventions. Congress gets to decide which method of ratification will be used.

The provision allowing states to call a convention to amend the Constitution is “excellent,” St. George Tucker wrote, even though he felt it may never be used:

The latter will probably never be resorted to, unless the federal government should betray symptoms of corruption, which may render it expedient for the states to exert themselves in order to the application of some radical and effectual remedy.

According to Meckler, the day Tucker said would likely never arrive has come, which makes a convention of states necessary.

“We are trying to throttle back the authority of the federal government,” Meckler said in an interview. “This is the only way to erase 115 years of ‘Progressive’ gains.”

Levin concurs that only a constitutional overhaul can fix America. He supports the state-initiated amendment process to limit the power and jurisdiction of the U.S. government that the Convention of States Project has launched.

Using plain, non-legalistic language, Levin writes that

…Article V expressly grants state legislatures significant authority to rebalance the constitutional structure for the purpose of restoring our founding principles should the federal government shed its limitations, abandon its original purpose, and grow too powerful, as many delegates in Philadelphia and the state conventions had worried it might.

“The Founders gave us a legitimate path to save our liberty by using our state governments to impose binding restraints on the federal government,” the Convention of States Project advises on its fact- and resource-rich website. “We must use the power granted to the states in the Constitution.”

Since it was launched in mid-2012, COS has made steady progress. On May 12, 2017, Missouri became the 12th state to adopt a Convention of States resolution. The measure, spearheaded by state Sen. Mike Kehoe, a Republican who represents Jefferson City, demands an Article V Convention of States to propose constitutional amendments “that impose fiscal restraint on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress.”

“This is a big deal,” Mark Levin announced on his radio show. “We’re more than a third of the way there.”

“The American people are growing weary of a federal government that is operating outside of its Constitutional bounds,” Keith Carmichael, Missouri state director for the Convention of States Project told Conservative Review.

“Neither party represents the people, but rather outside influences that help them get re-elected, so by calling a Convention of States under Article V, the states can recalibrate the balance between the federal government and return power back to the people—not to mention that a convention of this magnitude would be the biggest civics lesson of our lifetime.”

Days before Carmichael spoke, Texas became the 11th state to approve the COS-sponsored resolution.

The other ten states to approve the group’s Article V resolution are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee (“Texas joins call for Convention of States,” WND, May 9, 2017).

WND reports:

Roughly 125,000 COS activists worked for more than three years to pass the COS Article V Convention resolution in Texas. They conducted more than 400 meetings around the state to educate citizens and legislators about the Article V Convention process and the power they have to keep the federal government in check.

Meckler stressed the importance of educating people about the amendment process. “I would say the number one obstacle is just ignorance of the process,” he said. “The second clause of Article V is something that’s never been used before in American history, and there’s a lot of bad information and fearmongering floating around out there that’s spread primarily by the radical left, and people have bought into it. So overcoming that history of fearmongering is definitely not easy.”

What the naysayers say

On the political Right, the late Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum and the John Birch Society oppose convoking a convention of the states.

In December 2008, Schlafly wrote a column titled, “Con Con Is a Terrible Idea”:

We already have a U.S. Constitution that has withstood the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for more than two centuries, and we don’t need a new constitution. There is nothing wrong with the one we have except that politicians are not obeying it and judges are indulging in too much activism.

The idea that adding new words to the Constitution to require balancing the federal budget, or to give President Barack Obama a line-item veto so he can veto the extravagant spending he has already endorsed, is delusionary. The only thing more outlandish is the fanciful notion that a 2009 Con Con could adopt such requirements while avoiding other mistakes.

Outside the convention hall, left-wing “demonstrators would hold court demanding constitutional changes.”

These would be staged by gay activists and their opponents, pro-abortionists and pro-lifers, radical feminists, the environmentalists, gun control advocates, animal rights extremists, D.C. Statehood agitators, those who want to relax immigration and those who would restrict it, mortgage defaulters, and the unions—all demanding consideration of amendments to recognize their claimed rights.

It “would be a prescription for political chaos, controversy, confrontation, litigation, and judicial activism,” Schlafly wrote. “Just about the only thing we can predict with certainty is that it could not be secret from the media and the public, as was the original 1787 Constitutional Convention.”

The John Birch Society worries, in its words, that a “Con-Con” could become what critics call a “runaway convention,” “which could mean the end of over two centuries of security for our rights and freedoms as Americans.”

Arguably, this idea that a convention of the states would likely spin out of control originated on the Left. In 1988 the late Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote, “There is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda.”

Creative left-wingers now try to claim the late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, a conservative and an originalist, as an ally in their fight against a convention of the states.

Creative left-wingers now try to claim the late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, a conservative and an originalist, as an ally in their fight against a convention of the states. Credit: Steve Petteway, photographer, Supreme Court of the United States. License:

For example, the website of the leftist, George Soros-funded Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, contains a Jan. 18, 2017, article by Michael Leachman and David A. Super. The title of the piece sums up their perspective: “States Likely Could Not Control Constitutional Convention on Balanced Budget Amendment or Other Issues[.]”

Of course, that’s the whole purpose of the state-initiation clause of Article V. This extraordinary remedy was intended to give the people of the 50 states an opportunity to do an end-run around career politicians. The states, by which Leachman and Super mean the entrenched politicians, are not supposed to have control of a convention of the states. The politicians are, after all, part of the problem.

In the article, the authors appear to misrepresent the views of Scalia by taking a vague statement that the famously witty jurist appeared to offer as a joke during a panel discussion alongside his friend and fellow high court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A number of prominent jurists and legal scholars have warned that a constitutional convention could open up the Constitution to radical and harmful changes. For instance, the late Justice Antonin Scalia said in 2014, “I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. Whoa! Who knows what would come out of it?”

But Scalia’s views are not as clear-cut as the authors would have us believe. To understand what Scalia meant, consider the context of the remarks. He made them April 17, 2014, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., during a panel discussion on the First Amendment.

Here is the relevant part from the transcript prepared by Federal News Service:

KALB: Here is a question from Seth Dawson (sp) of the office of Congressman Denny Heck. Justice Stevens recently suggested a constitutional amendment to modify the Second Amendment. If you could amend the Constitution in one way, what would it be and why? Justice Scalia?

JUSTICE SCALIA: I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. I mean, whoa. (Laughter.) Who knows what would come out of that? But if there were a targeted amendment that were adopted by the states, I think the only provision I would amend is the amendment provision. I figured out at one time what percentage of the populace could prevent an amendment of the Constitution. And if you take a bare majority in the smallest states by population, I think something less than 2 percent of the people can prevent a constitutional amendment. That’s—it ought to be hard, but it shouldn’t be that hard.

Scalia was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. The question came from a staffer in the office of left-wing Rep. Denny Heck, a Democrat from Washington State. Heck participated in the Democrats’ June 2016 publicity stunt in which they conducted a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives to demand more gun control. The gimmicky event, organized by grandstanding leftist Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, received positive saturation coverage by the mainstream media, which largely depicted the floor occupiers as heroic crusaders.

Given that Scalia was a keen follower of current affairs, is it any surprise that he would be startled enough by the question about enhanced gun-grabbing to say “whoa”? When he said, “I certainly would not want a constitutional convention,” was he thinking in general terms, or exclusively regarding the Second Amendment? In any event, the concluding part of Scalia’s remarks on this occasion clearly indicated that he did not think a tiny minority of Americans should be able to prevent the Constitution from being amended.

Years earlier Scalia was unequivocally in favor of having a convention of the states.

During a panel discussion on Article V at the American Enterprise Institute in 1979, then-law professor Scalia was enthusiastic about the prospect of a state-initiated convention to consider constitutional amendments. He gently mocked a questioner who raised concerns about “an unlimited convention.”

“It is possible,” he said, “that the Congress tomorrow might pass a law abolishing social security as of the next day, or eliminating Christmas. Such things are possible, remotely possible.” He continued:

I have no fear that such extreme proposals would come out of a constitutional convention.…it really comes down to whether we think a constitutional convention is necessary. I think it is necessary for some purposes, and I am willing to accept what seems to me a minimal risk of intemperate action. The Founders inserted this alternative method of obtaining constitutional amendments because they knew the Congress would be unwilling to give attention to many issues the people are concerned with, particularly those involving restrictions on the federal government’s own power. The Founders foresaw that and they provided the convention as a remedy. If the only way to get that convention is to take this minimal risk, then it is a reasonable one.… In any case, I do not have any great fear of an open convention, since three-quarters of the states do have to ratify what comes out of it.

The Left’s Fear

Unlike Scalia, left-wing activists are almost uniformly terrified at the prospect and are beginning to take seriously the threat that the Convention of States Project poses to the big-government status quo. They are responding with characteristic hysteria. For example, Jacob Sugarman wrote an article with the headline, “Convention of the States: Is a billionaire-funded coup to rewrite the Constitution on the verge of happening?” (Salon, March 25, 2017).

Sugarman warned that:

A “Convention of the States” has never been invoked before, but Republicans and Koch-backed organizations like Citizens for Self-Governance have been salivating over the possibility for years, even holding dress rehearsals in Washington, D.C., with representatives from across the country. With the federal deficit presently hovering just below $20 trillion, their ostensible plan is to add a balanced budget amendment. This alone would likely shred the country’s meager social safety net, but as Assembly Minority Leader and Kenosha Democrat Peter Barca warns the Wisconsin State Journal, a constitutional convention could put citizens’ very rights “up for grabs.”

Scot Ross, executive director of liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, puts it more bluntly: “The balanced budget talk is a fig leaf to let them change America into a right-wing alternative universe.”

In April of this year, the Left went to war against a constitutional convention as 230 left-wing groups, led by Common Cause, signed a letter warning of the supposed dangers posed by a convention of the states (“More Than 200 Organizations Oppose Calls for New Constitutional Convention, Warn of Dangers”).

“A constitutional convention call, even on a single issue will become a Pandora’s box—once it’s open there will be no controlling where it goes, putting every Americans’ basic rights on the auction block,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “The wealthy special interests who are funding this push do not share the best interest of the American people, and there are no rules to limit their influence on what could be brought up once a convention is convened.”

If Ms. Flynn and Common Cause are concerned about “wealthy special interests” who don’t share the best interests of the American people, they may want to reconsider the co-signers of their letter (or ponder the irony of their own group’s motto: “Holding Power Accountable”). The groups joining Common Cause in opposition to the convention include the nation’s most powerful labor unions, which are special interests that use their wealth to swamp the lists of the largest political donors in America, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AFL-CIO, as well as unions that represent government employees who live off of their fellow citizens’ tax dollars: the National Education Association; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and their friends at AFSCME Retirees.

Then there are the letter’s co-signers who are pillars of the political crusade to eliminate the constitutional distinction between U.S. citizens and aliens: Dream Defenders, Mi Familia Vota, and National Council of La Raza Action Fund. And the co-signers whose very names indicate that their highest priority is protecting their government entitlements at all costs: Center for Medicare Advocacy, National WIC Association, and Social Security Works. And the co-signers who exist to press for more federal funding under all circumstances, whether or not the Constitution grants the federal government authority to meddle in the area, including the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Children’s Defense Fund. And the co-signers which are all-purpose left-wing pressure groups, including Daily Kos, Center for American Progress, and ProgressNow. And the co-signer People for the American Way, whose vicious campaign against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Robert Bork gave rise to the term “borking,” which may be defined as “smearing judicial nominees who respect the Constitution and the role of judges it prescribes.”

And yet, despite all this evidence that the groups involved have little respect for the constitutional order our Founders established, the press release announcing the left-wing coalition against the convention of states quotes Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, warning that “The implications of a Constitutional Convention are staggering. Our country faces enough problems and division. We don’t need to add to them and inflame an already toxic political environment by placing at risk the constitutional structure that has served us well for more than two centuries—and heading into dangerous, unknown territory by calling a convention to rework the Constitution. Leading legal scholars from across the political spectrum agree that once convened, the scope of the convention in seeking to rewrite the Constitution could not be limited.”

This fear of a “runaway convention” is often raised by skeptics, but it seems misplaced. Justice Antonin Scalia, as noted above, didn’t seem too concerned about it.

Former constitutional law professor Rob Natelson, who runs the Article V Information Center at the Denver-based Independence Institute writes that the “runaway scenario” has “almost no basis in history or law,” even though “it has long frightened Americans away from using the Constitution’s chief mechanism for bypassing Congress and curing our dysfunctional federal government.”

In the 1960s and 1970s, “leading establishment liberals, such as [President John F.] Kennedy speechwriter Theodore Sorensen and Kennedy confidant Arthur Goldberg, capitalized on that confusion by raising the runaway specter.” Their plan was “to scare people away from using the Constitution’s convention mechanism,” in order to “protect from reversal by constitutional amendment several Supreme Court decisions that had proved highly controversial—among them Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion nationwide. Second, they sought to block growing momentum for amendments imposing term limits and requiring a federal balanced budget.”

Natelson continued:

An n-gram search in Google Books to find out when the phrase ‘runaway convention’ arose…[showed] the term was almost unknown until around 1960—when it suddenly became extraordinarily common. Usage rose to counter rising popular demand for constitutional amendments. In the 1990s, as momentum for amendments abated, so also did resort to the runaway scenario. Another n-gram search shows that the abbreviation “con con,” widely used by convention opponents, also was invented around 1960.

Robert Biggerstaff, a colleague of Natelson, notes, “In the 1950s and 60s progressives actively sought change through courts when it was not possible through legislatures. This was an express tactical choice to seek through judicial activism what was stymied by legislatures” (“How progressives promoted the ‘runaway convention’ myth to save judicial activism,” by Robert Natelson, The Hill, May 7, 2017).

The Convention of States Project conducted a “historic simulation” at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, on Sept. 21-23, 2016, that failed to turn into a runaway convention. It was attended by 137 delegates representing 32 states across the nation.

The Convention passed six proposed amendments:

  1. Forbid the public debt to be increased except upon a recorded vote of two-thirds of each house of Congress
  2. Set term limits on Members of Congress
  3. Limit federal overreach by returning the Commerce Clause to its original meaning
  4. Limit the power of federal regulations by giving Congress an easy override
  5. Require a super majority to raise federal taxes and repeal the 16th Amendment (which permits a federal income tax)
  6. Give the states (by a three-fifths vote) the power to abrogate any federal law, regulation, or executive order.

“The events at Williamsburg will be remembered as a turning point in history,” said COS co-founder Michael Farris. “The spirit of liberty and self-government has been reignited.”

The Convention of States Project offers the following examples of amendment topics that could be discussed at a convention of states:

  • A balanced budget amendment
  • A redefinition of the General Welfare Clause (the original view was the federal government could not spend money on any topic within the jurisdiction of the states)
  • A redefinition of the Commerce Clause (the original view was that Congress was granted a narrow and exclusive power to regulate shipments across state lines–not all the economic activity of the nation)
  • A prohibition of using international treaties and law to govern the domestic law of the United States
  • A limitation on using Executive Orders and federal regulations to enact laws (since Congress is supposed to be the exclusive agency to enact laws)
  • Imposing term limits on Congress and the Supreme Court
  • Placing an upper limit on federal taxation
  • Requiring the sunset of all existing federal taxes and a super-majority vote to replace them with new, fairer taxes

Of course, these are merely examples of what would be up for discussion. The convention of states itself would determine which ideas deserve serious consideration, and it will take a majority of votes from the states to formally propose any amendments.

The movement is surging

A frequent complaint by conservatives is that conservative movements are not well-organized. This criticism does not apply to the Convention of States Project. It is currently organized and active in all 50 states and claims to have more than 2 million volunteers, supporters, and advocates determined to bring the federal government’s abuse of power to an end. According to COS,

the grassroots is the key to calling a successful convention. The goal is to build a political operation in a minimum of 40 states, getting 100 people to volunteer in at least 75% of the state’s legislative districts. We believe this is very doable. But only through the support of the American people will this project have a chance to succeed.

The nationwide COS movement enjoys the support of a high-profile ally: straight-shooting former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who serves as a senior adviser to the Convention of States Project. Coburn argues for a convention of the states in his new book, Smashing the DC Monopoly: Using Article V to Restore Freedom and Stop America’s Runaway Government.

Groups listed on the COS website as endorsers are the Association of Mature American Citizens, U.S. Term Limits, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Among the individuals listed are Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R); former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R); former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R); former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R); Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.); former Congressman Lt. Col. (Ret.) Allen West (R-Fla.); Fox News terrorism analyst Lt. Col. Bill Cowan, USMC (Ret.); and broadcaster Sean Hannity.


So what’s next? “If we don’t fix this, civil war is the trajectory,” according to Meckler. Things have gone too far. “We have nationalized so many decisions.”

The possibility of a second civil war in the U.S. is not hyperbole. The frightening violence the Left unleashed on society during the Obama era—Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter—and during Donald Trump’s campaign, then the transition period, and now during his presidency, is just a taste of what these Saul Alinsky-inspired activists have in store for us.

“The question that is facing America today is simply, who decides?” Meckler says.

America, you have a choice to make.

Matthew Vadum is senior vice president at the Capital Research Center. His next book, Team Jihad, has been published by the Center for Security Policy.


Matthew Vadum

The author of Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers (WND Books, 2011), Vadum writes and speaks widely on ACORN and other radical advocacy…
+ More by Matthew Vadum
  • ThompsonSOS

    I agree with Eagle Forum and the John Birch Society (and have in fact joined both) on this crucial issue. The risks are too high, the rewards non-existent.

    • Linda JJ

      I joined the John Birch Society when I saw the media lies and smear about the Tea Party and realized they had tried the same thing against JBS in the 60s. Then they tried the same thing against Trump. Basically if the enemedia hates you and lies about you you’re probably doing the right thing. The JBS is definitely right to oppose a con-con.

      • Brent Dunklau

        Actually it’s a “convention for proposing amendments”. That is the exact wording from the Constitution.

        “Con-con” is a made up phrase.

        • Linda JJ

          Check out the definition of a Constitutional Convention from Black’s Law dictionary:

          • Brent Dunklau

            Yeah, when was that definition created?

          • Linda JJ

            Amendments by definition change the text of the Constitution.

          • Conservative one

            So your argument is that all amendments are bad even the one that let women vote? That little amendment was brought on by the Article V movement threat, or maybe terms limits on the president? That came because Congress was threatened by an Article V movement. Or maybe you don;t know that our Bill of Rights got proposed by…wait for it…an Article V movement!!!

          • Linda JJ

            As a woman, I’m not afraid to say that female suffrage may not have been the best idea. In fact I wouldn’t mind limiting the vote to married men with property who have a basic understanding of the Constitution. All of what you write is irrelevant to this anyway. If you think the (mostly) uneducated morons who call themselves Americans today, or the criminals who purport to represent them, would produce anything along the lines of the Bill of Rights, you’re dreaming. We’d be lucky if any of the rights enshrined therein survived.

          • Conservative one

            That is bunk Linda-Part of the purpose is to remove our rights from the jurisdiction of the government by limiting them (in so many words) to what the Constitution granted to them. That was just 17 duties and areas. By removing them from what is not their Constitutional jurisdiction in the first place we strengthen the Bill of Rights. Most of the assaults on them are unconstitutional power grabs at best and limiting what they can even have a say in is essential to protecting those rights from any and all erosion. This entire movement is about putting all 3 branches of government in the very small box they were in 240 years ago and making sure there is no wiggle room for them to usurp the power of the people through the states again. What I said is highly relevant to the problems this country has now-and making sure it gets corrected.

          • Brent Dunklau

            We’re not talking about what amendment do. We’re talking about how definitions of words change over time versus the text in article 5 which hasn’t changed 230 years.

          • WetlinaWoman

            That’s only one law dictionary out of many. It didn’t get this definition right.

          • Linda JJ

            It is by far the most widely used and referenced law dictionary in American jurisprudence.

          • WetlinaWoman

            Not according to some long-time practicing lawyers who wrote their opinions about it. It’s just one of many sources.

          • Brent Dunklau

            The founding fathers didn’t even call the 1787 convention a “constitutional convention”

            But they did call it a “convention of the states”

          • Michael Alexander

            @linda_jj:disqus Not to put too fine a point on it, but the term “constitutional convention” is not even mentioned in the Constitution at all, anywhere. Actually, it’s technically and historically improper to refer to the 1787 convention as a constitutional convention… the official title was “Federal Convention of 1787” made so by an act of Congress!

            Now, since the word “convention” actually appears in Article V, the term “Article V” refers to the name of the Article, and of course the word “convention” refers to the convention defined in the text of Article V, hence the term “Article V Convention.”

            Now, just to show you that we are not 100% OCD, those within the movement agree that it would be equally accurate to use the term “amendments convention,” but there is no question whatsoever that since the Constitution does not even contain the phrase “constitutional convention,” that using that term to describe an Article V Convention to Propose Amendments to the Constitution, and amendments convention, or simply a Convention of States, is thoroughly and completely inaccurate, no matter what you or your trusty, dusty Black’s Law says.

            And lastly, I am advised that the Supreme Court has on at least four occasions used the term “convention for proposing amendments,” and none of those were references to a “Constitutional Convention,” rather they were referring to exactly what the term says – a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Go figure!

            I may be the eternal optimist, Linda JJ, but I would hope that someday you would find that 1) the Constitution itself, 2) an act of Congress, and 3) four Supreme Court findings are unbiased and authoritative sources… maybe even more so than Black’s Law.

          • You can choose to call it whatever you want but:
            1) if it is a convention, which it is;
            2) and if it pertains to changing the wording of the Constitution, which it does;
            3) then it plainly is a Constitutional Convention.
            To deny this reality in the face of its plain truth is just plain deceptive.

          • Brent Dunklau

            Detractors are trying to use the phrase “constitutional convention” to confuse and alarm people.

            The argument is as simple as it is fallacious…

            An Article V convention is a Constitutional Convention

            A Constitutional Convention can frame, revise or amend a constitution.

            Therefore an Article V convention can create a whole new Constitution.

            People who push this know they are being dishonest. They just count on people not actually reading the text of Article V (“convention for proposing amendments”)

      • ClymerCliff

        William Buckley and Barry Goldwater are not “the media” Birchers are now aligned with Soros against Liberty.

      • Michael Alexander

        You’re a newcomer, @linda_jj:disqus… you may need to study the track record of the organization you joined. History has a way of documenting these inconvenient truths:

        Robert Welch, the first president of the John Birch Society, welcomed those who would repeal the 16th Amendment (the progressive income tax) into the society and made their cause a part of JBS lore.

        In 1975, Larry McDonald, then a Democrat U.S. Representative from Georgia, who went on to become the second president of the John Birch Society in 1983, went on record in the U.S. Congress in support of a convention of states to propose “The Liberty Amendment” in their continuing effort to repeal the 16th Amendment. The Congressional Record from October 9, 1975 contains several of his statements as follows:

        – – –

        “In almost two centuries our Constitution has been amended a comparatively few times. The first 10 amendments—Bill of Rights—were added almost immediately after the Constitution was ratified—in December, 1791—and there have been only 16 added since then. This may seem too slow, but any amendment is unique in that is supersedes anything preceding it which is contrary to it.

        Only through an amendment, will we be able to correct the present distortion of our basic law. The Liberty Amendment will clarify the terms of our freedom, rectify the current conflict between Government and people, define our economic liberties and force the Government to abide by that definition.”

        “The fifth article of the Constitution prescribes two valid methods for amending the Constitution. An amendment may be proposed by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress concurring; or the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States—34—may require Congress to call a Constitutional Convention to propose such amendments, which, in either case, become a part of the Constitution when three-quarters—38 States— ratify a proposed amendment.

        The Liberty Amendment resolution is being advanced in both ways. It is now pending in Congress as House Joint Resolution 23. It has also been approved by the Legislatures in seven of the sovereign States and is pending in several others.”

        “The fifth article of the Constitution provides this method of causing the amendments to be proposed. Then, too, the States must eventually ratify to make it a part of the Constitution. This country consists of a union of sovereign States which hold the only power to ratify amendments and State legislatures hold concurrent power under the Constitution to initiate such amendments as they, the States and the people within them, require.”


        • Linda JJ

          I’ve heard some of that before. It doesn’t make any difference either way. America was a very different place when Congressman Larry McDonald was president of JBS (before he was murdered). As I understand it some JBS people were kind of playing chicken with Congress in an effort to force change. Anyway, the JBS is a great group and I think they are right about this issue.

          • Brent Dunklau

            The John Birch society claims today that they never supported the article 5 convention. Ever.

            They claim today that they weren’t sincerely advocating for the convention 40-50 years ago.

            So the leadership today is throwing past leadership under the bus.

            Very convenient given that neither Robert Welch nor Larry McDonald or alive anymore to defend their honor

          • Brent: You need to take the log out of your own eye: Mark Levin and Glen Beck both claim that they were once against an Article V Convention. Mike Farris endorsed a book by Christian attorney John Eidsmoe who not only has been an outspoken opponent of an Article V but in his book, had info on why an Article V Convention was a bad idea: Another supporter of an Article V is David Barton, In an interview he did with Mike Farris a few years ago he claimed that he never read the Article V of the Constitution, but 10 years of so earlier, he authors a book entitled “Original Intent.” He writes a book on the Constitution and then tells folks that he never fully read 7 Articles and 27 Amendments? The JBS employed a tactic that may have been the right thing to do 50 years ago, but times have changed a bit since then. I am a friend of Larry McDonald’s research director. I asked him if Larry supported an Article V Convention. He told me that he did not. if you read Larry’s book “We Hold These Truths,” you will find a chapter on what is to be done. In that chapter, he did not advocate an Article V Convention. Here is a speech Larry gave in Boston in 1980 entitled “Education is the Key.” Again, he did not call for an Article V Convention in this speech:

          • Brent Dunklau

            Larry McDonald is on the record, literally (the Congressional Record) saying that he favored advancing the Liberty Amendment both ways.

            You must not have been aware of this (Q 16 and 17):

    • Brent Dunklau

      The JBS has a schizophrenic history on Article V. They used to be for it. Now they’re against it. And they say they never WERE for it.

      And Eagle Forum got suckered 30 years ago by CJustice Warren Burger. Since when does a conservative group like EF take advice from an uber leftist like Burger.

      How many millions of babies have been killed because Eagle Forum got conned in to carrying the liberals water?

      • Well if the JBS is schizophrenic so isn’t Mark Levin and Glen beck who once opossed one.

        • Brent Dunklau

          The JBS is trying to cover over their history of support by claiming, today, that they never *did* support it.

          From John McManus: “Neither Robert Welch nor Larry MacDonald nor this writer… has ever advocated for the liberty amendment or any other amendment”


          The issue with the JBS isn’t really that they changed their position on the convention. It’s that they are now throwing past leaders under the bus, two gentlemen who are no longer alive to defend their own honor.

    • ClymerCliff
      • Brent Dunklau

        Uhhh… I think the JBS would prefer that video not exist

    • Michael Alexander

      @ThompsonSOS:disqus … your fears are groundless. If you see some way that a harmful amendment could possibly slip through the multiple layers of built-in protection, then please point it out, and be specific. Just being “afraid” is not enough. The only thing to fear is doing nothing… doing nothing because one doesn’t have the courage to even try.

    • So you trust an out-of-control Congress more than the PEOPLE? Please explain your rationale here. Eagle Forum and JBS are at odds on some things. Who will you go with then? Rewards nonexistent? Say wha? BTW, that is one word. The rewards are mighty. If the Founders had thought the way you do we would still be under British control and there would be no microwave oven, transistor, swivel chair, Mars Rover, computer, cotton gin, light bulb, telephone, car, airplane, washing machine, television, industrial robot, life saving medicines, etc. I am thankful you weren’t them.

  • This writer should have done a little research on Mr. Meckler. Here is a video with Meckler and MoveOn’s JoAnne Blades. Meckler is involved with this left-wing groups called “Livingroom Conversations” along with the like off Van Jones. Meckler also co-hosted the Conference on the Constitutional Convention with former Obama advisor Larry Lessig:

    • Linda JJ

      Meckler is indeed bad news. Thank you for sharing this.

      • Brent Dunklau

        This is a personal attack and has nothing to do with the subject of the article.

        • Linda JJ

          I think it’s relevant to see a lead promoter of the Con-Con palling around with nutty leftists on Soros’ payroll and I suspect others would as well.

          • Brent Dunklau

            Meckler’s political idealogy is clear. You’re actually trying to muddy the waters. You don’t even know Mark Meckler.

          • Michael Alexander

            That’s the best they can do, Brent, that’s all they’ve got… no facts, no logical argument, not even an attempt at rebuttal, just baseless character assassination and false innuendo. In other words, they’ve reduced themselves to to nothing more that trolls.

          • Michael Alexander: We have an excellent logical argument. Here is a link to a video by Robert Brown in front of a group of COS supporters who, unlike you and Brent, were very respectful of fellow Patriots who generally agree with us on almost every issue but this.

          • Linda JJ

            That’s true, but after seeing his unhinged attacks on JBS using Alinsky tactics, it will be very hard to ever regain respect for him.

          • Sharon

            That’s pretty funny, that people think Mark Meckler is “palling around” with left-wingers. 😀

          • Linda JJ

            All you have to do is watch the video posted by the poster….

        • But it is okay for you to employ personal attacks

          • Brent Dunklau

            No. When did I do that?

    • Joe Stephans

      In this case Hal Shurtleff is closely aligned with George Soros and against freedom. You have to wonder if he is funded by Soros or the DNC.

      • Joe: The Principle of Reversal. Your champion and hero Mark Meckler openly works with Joanne Blades of Soro’s Move On and you accuse ne of being aligned with Soros? I did visit George Soros’ house on Nantucket to leave off info against Agenda 21, but he wasn’t home:

    • Brent Dunklau

      “Meckler is involved with this left-wing groups”

      Hal, that’s just a lie

      • Sorry Brent if you can’t discern that Livingroom Conversations, and the Aspen Institute are let-wing groups.

    • ClymerCliff

      Is that the best you can do Hal? What is that 5-10 years old. Here is a debate from 2017 Because you are in favor of the same Constitutional method does not mean you are in favor of the same subject matter. Get a clue!

      • Brent Dunklau


    • You are a –never mind. This is not about personalities. It IS about the TRUTH. Please post something that isn’t ten-years-old. Mark Meckler did the Intelligence Squared Debate with Lessig true. You don’t get to pick your partner in those. And of course, Mark Meckler said yes. He knew most people would understand.

      • Robyn: Meckler and Lessig co-sponsored an event at Harvard University in September 2011 entitled “Conference on the Constitutional Convention.” Participants included Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks who shortly formed the left-wing group Wolf PAC which works with COS for an Article V Convention, Occupy Wall Street, and the Coffee Party to name just a few. I was there as a journalist. I have witnessed Wolf PAC and COS working hand in hand in New Hampshire.

  • billwalker

    This article, overall, is one of the best I’ve read about a convention. The author however fails to mention a key point which then influences all the rest of the article. He fails to mention the states have already submitted applications in sufficient number to cause 11 convention calls. And he fails to mention Congress is currently counting the applications and already arrived at its first two sets of applications. He discusses several subjects (JBS, runaway convention and so forth). Much more detail and information on these subjects can be found at Of particular interest however is his reporting on the Convention of States project. The author implies that the people would be involved (i.e., participate through election of delegates) in a “Convention of States.” This is incorrect. As discussed at the states which have passed the “Convention of States” resolutions have also passed laws specifically excluding the American people from any participation in an “Convention of States.” The applications by the states and the state laws in regard to a “Convention of States” can be read on the FOAVC website. It should be also be noted that an Article V Convention as called for in the Constitution is elected. There is no such thing as a “Convention of States” in the Constitution.

    • ClymerCliff

      Some day Bill you will give up on this farce. 230 years of history has passed you by. Your great talents could be best used on something beneficial.

      • billwalker

        It is all a matter of public record Cliff. If there is a “farce” it is you. As to giving up as long as people like you exist who believe my right to vote can be taken away by people like you I’m going to be here. Now, instead of asking me to leave why not provide evidence that anything I’ve said is incorrect. ATTENTION EVERYONE. CLIFF WILL NOT, I REPEAT NOT BE ABLE TO DISPROVE ONE THING I’VE SAID. He’ll either (1) sputter like a cold engine and say something completely off point or (2) simply go away. BUT HE WILL NOT PROVIDE ANY EVIDENCE PROVING I AM WRONG. Oh yeah by the way Cliff it will COS that will give up eventually on its farce either when their leaders are arrested for violation of federal criminal law or when the American people completely reject them which is already happening.

        • ClymerCliff

          Like I said 230 years has proved you wrong. Which states are supporting your effort? Which ones do you speak for? Do something with your gifts…don’t keep wasting them.

          • billwalker

            Cliffy, we’re non partisan. All states except Hawaii “support” us which is to bring about the calling an convention under the laws of the United States. These laws DO NOT permit a “convention of states” but mandate an Article V Convention. 230 years has NOT proved me wrong. You assume you are correct yet I see no evidence, no proof and so forth. I got an idea… why don’t YOU do something else with your gifts…like speak the truth.

          • ClymerCliff

            Complete delusion. There is not one state and I don’t believe even one state legislator that supports your position. The States are responsible for calling the convention, and not Bill Walker. Some day you will wake up.

          • billwalker

            No Clffy–Congress is responsible for calling and is doing so by counting the applications right now. As to state legislators supporting that position. Obviously they do. They submitted the applications. Duh.

        • ClymerCliff

          You can not disprove something that doesn’t exist. You don’t get to vote on state resolutions until you run for office. 230 years of documented history proves you wrong. Let me know which state supports your movement? I would be happy to call the Secretary of State’s office to verify.

    • Oh Billy Boy. once again you are posting misinformation. There is no sufficient number for a call for a convention. And yes, there is a Convention of States in the Constitution as the Delegates come from the STATES.

      Also, read the first ever application by Virginia back in 1788. It calls for a CONVENTION OF STATES

      Therefore, you are misleading people once more.

      • billwalker

        Interesting You attack me Rick but have links from your website blog Rick’s Civics Blog to FOAVC. We have the records to prove this. We don’t link to your information because it is incorrect. Yet, here you link to FOAVC so that people presumably can read our information. For example, you cite 1788 application of Virginia. It is true the term “convention of states” is used in the application (thus raising the question why Convention of States today does not recognize this as a “convention of states” application just like the 1832 application of South Carolina which also uses the term “convention of states.

        But, if you read further you’ll discover no less than James Madison corrects the situation (and given he wrote Article V I’d say his word is final) and calls the convention what it is–“a convention for proposing amendments” NOT a convention of states. See:

        And thanks for leading people to our website Rick. It’s not often you see someone rip a person for being inaccurate in public then suggest to anyone reading his blog they go to that person’s site and read the information he provides.

        I must say Rick you are diverse if nothing else.

    • Joe Stephans

      Sadly the bill introduced to count the applications seem to be buried in three separate committees. Apparently to bury any action on the bill. It would be helpful to know who in Congress is counting the applications. Perhaps we can point them to the Article V Library online to expedite their work.

      • billwalker

        With all due respect to the Article V Library I suggest using the information at the website. We were involved in writing that legislation and therefore have a more direct grasp of the situation than the Library. Moreover we provide more information that it does.

    • Sharon

      It is clear from the very first Article V application discussed at one of the earliest Congressional sessions that Article V convention applications need to agree on a subject matter. Clearly this was the expectation of the founding generation. By that criterion, there have never been adequate applications to hold a convention.

      • billwalker

        Sorry Sharon but you are incorrect. The expectation of the founding generation as you put it was a numeric count. Reference the discussion you refer to and you’ll see the discussion was over whether or not to refer the application (Virginia) to a committee in order to discuss the subject of the application. It was determined that the subject matter of the application was not to be used to count applications. The term “number of states” is used at least nine different times in the discussion. Also, as further proof, you’ll find that even today Congress only uses state and date to tabulate the applications. Thus again proving you wrong.

        Also at least four subjects have reached the two thirds mark. See: So your assertion this mark has never been reached is also incorrect.

    • Conservative one

      “No such thing as a Convention of States?….Tell that to the state of Virginia who coined the name and oh yea – The Supreme Court that has called it that for many years.

      • billwalker

        Show me the term in the Constitution of the United States and you’ve won the argument. And by the way Virginia did not “coin” the term. The earliest reference I’ve been able to find comes from the Articles of Confederation which as the title suggest was a “confederation of states.” There may be even earlier references.

  • rinohunter

    To believe a convention cannot exceed its authority, is to believe history CANNOT repeat itself. For as Madison conceded, the 1787 convention “exceeded the tenor of their commission”.

    If you’ve taken the time to read this article, you owe it to yourself to study the opposing side, from the source. There are many conservative and constitutional scholars who are warning against a convention.

    • Joe Stephans

      Go to the source documents. Cut through the nonsense and the political hoopla generated by Soros and the DNC who want to keep the status quo. Read the full record and you will see why this post is ludicrous.

      • rinohunter

        I went to the source documents. I read the state commissions from all 12 states who attended the convention (and itemized every power granted and withheld). I read Madison’s writings explaining the convention having exceeded their commission. I read the discussion in Congress afterward, considering what authority the convention acted upon. The list goes on and on.

        Have you read all of these for yourself, or is your opinion based on the research of others?

        • Joe Stephans

          If you have read the original documents then your original post moves from ludicrous to ridiculous. Now I would have to classify your post as propaganda for the RINOs. You make the same arguments that power hungry RINOs make against a Convention of States. You have NO solutions to the multiple problems we face! In fact you work to defeat the best solution I’ve found to fix these problems. You need to change your moniker to “rino-supporter” because you’re interpretation of the documents is way off the mark I consider your post misleading propaganda. I would encourage you to share your itemized analysis of the commissions for examination or peer review. The library of books I’ve collected with library of original documents helped to shape my thoughts about your post and would be used review any articles you’ve written or write. In fact the empirical evidence shows that you are also aligned with George Soros funded groups who have NO solutions to our nations problems. Therefore I’m not looking for any original thought from you.

          • rinohunter

            I make the same arguments as James Madison. He admitted they convention “departed from the tenor of their commission.” 9 states referenced the Article XIII ratification requirement (from the Articles of Confederation) as the ratification process the 1787 convention’s revisions would have to follow.

            It was in reference to these 9 state commissions to which Madison stated, “In one particular it is admitted that the convention have departed from
            the tenor of their commission. Instead of reporting a plan requiring
            the confirmation OF THE LEGISLATURES OF ALL THE STATES, they have
            reported a plan which is to be confirmed by the PEOPLE, and may be
            carried into effect by NINE STATES ONLY.”

            As for aligning with George Soros, I’ve collected a list of 487 liberal groups, many with ties to Soros, who have endorsed having an Article V convention. And Mark Meckler has been working hand-in-hand with Soros front man, Laurence Lessig, to promote a convention.

    • Brent Dunklau

      He didn’t concede anything. What are you referring to?

      Madison was a federalist. He argued that the Philadelphia convention did NOT exceed its authority.

      You’re confused on your history.

      • rinohunter

        Brent, you know exactly what I’m referring to. I’ve included the quote from Madison, and you know where to find it. Madison argued that, despite exceeding “the tenor of their commission”, they did not act without authority. They simply called on a higher authority, which would trump the limits of power imposed by the states and the existing constitution; the power of the people themselves, “to abolish our alter”.

        • Brent Dunklau

          If I ask you “what is the price of admission?” , that doesn’t mean “what is the price of confession?”

          You are applying the wrong definition of the word “admit”

          • rinohunter

            Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “admitted” as “Permitted to enter or approach; allowed; granted; conceded.”

            Madison stated, “it is admitted that the convention have departed from the tenor of their commission.”

            Certainly, you are not suggesting that Madison used the word to mean “permitted to enter or approach”?!?

            Otherwise, we must agree he meant to allow, grant, or even concede the charge being made by the anti-federalists, in this one specific case, that the convention departed from their commission. “Instead of reporting a plan requiring the confirmation OF THE LEGISLATURES OF ALL THE STATES, they have reported a plan which is to be confirmed by the PEOPLE, and may be carried into effect by NINE STATES ONLY.”

            They changed the rules for ratification. In so doing, they departed from the ratification requirement found in Article XIII of their existing constitution, and also from the commissions of 9 states, which mentioned this ratification process.

          • Brent Dunklau

            Re: “They changed the rules for ratification”

            No. They *proposed* a change to the rules.

            Big difference.

            The state legislatures (any of them) could have refused to establish ratifying conventions in their states.

            None of them did. The state legislatures knew what they were being asked to do. They were being asked to agree to change the ratification requirement.

            They all agreed.

          • rinohunter

            As I’m sure you are aware, the requirement was for Congress and the state legislatures to approve changes.

            When Congress was presented with the new constitution, containing a new ratification process, many felt it was beyond their authority to approve or disapprove. This view prevailed, and in the end, they decided all they could do was to “transmit it merely, without approving or disapproving.”

            So, clearly, transmitting it on to the states and the ratification conventions is not the same thing as approving. To make your argument stick, you’ll need evidence of a vote of approval from Congress, as well as all 13 state legislatures.

            Records of 14 approval votes please.

          • Brent Dunklau

            Re: “So, clearly, transmitting it on to the states and the ratification conventions is not the same thing as approving”

            You are incorrect.

            When Congress transmitted, that was tacit approval. They could have refused.

            When the state legislatures voted to establish ratifying conventions, that was tacit approval. They could have refused.

            You are beating a horse that has been dead for 230 years.

            Ultimately, you distrust We The People and you see your influence waning.

            And that scares the crap out of you, whatever happened 230 years ago notwithstanding.

          • rinohunter

            You claimed, “When Congress transmitted, that was tacit approval. They could have refused.”

            Yet, the historical record says they intentionally withheld their approval, choosing to “transmit it merely, without approving or disapproving.”

            You are distorting the historical record, to support your claim.

            But your charge, “Ultimately, you distrust We The People” is correct. Just like Madison, who warned against a convention “in the present temper of America”, he felt the “present ferment of parties” was too volatile a situation to trust to making changes to the constitution.

            Is today more politically harmonious, or politically volatile? I feel, “in the present temper of America”, we would be foolish to open the Constitution.

          • Brent Dunklau

            BTW I notice you like to use Webster’s Dictionary from 1828 in some cases and Blacks Law Dictionary from today in others.

            Tell me, what is the definition of “Constitutional Convention” according to Webster’s 1828 dictionary?

          • rinohunter

            I use the best dictionary from the era of the quote. In modern times, when someone uses a legal phrase, a current law dictionary is appropriate. But when seeking the meaning of a word used in a citation from the founding era, Webster’s 1828 is a good resource.

          • Brent Dunklau

            And how does Websters 1828 define “Constitutional Convention” ?

            It’s not even in there, is it?


          • rinohunter

            Reference dictionaries based on the time in which a term is used. As far as I can find, the term “constitutional convention” was first used in the late 1800s. It has commonly been used to describe the 1787 convention, as well as the Article V convention, as well as state-constitution-rewriting conventions.

            It is a good term to describe each of these, as they are conventions which relate to drafting or amending various constitutions.

            Ironically, convention promoters freely used the term, according to its dictionary definition, until Natelson publicly announced in 2011, that they would no longer be using the dictionary-definition of the term, but would claim it means something else. Sure, he doesn’t say it in these words, but the lack of a single, unbiased, authoritative source for his new definition exposes the fallacy of his declaration.

            His motive is to try to separate the convention for proposing amendments from a convention for proposing a complete rewrite of the Constitution (despite the fact that Madison issued the challenge, who can mark the boundary between the two?)

            But try as he may to redefine words, like the insane Humpty Dumpty, who insists, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean”, they still mean what they ACTUALLY mean.

            But this brings up a great problem with his chosen term to replace “constitutional convention”. The term “Convention of states” is being paraded around as “much more limited” than a constitutional convention. This despite the fact that the constitutional convention of 1787 was also called a “convention of the states”.

            Despite Natelson’s disingenuous effort to draw clear lines between the two, the boundary is as undefinable as when Madison issued the challenge.

          • Brent Dunklau

            What you’re trying to do is scare people into thinking that an Article V convention could change the ratification rules to allow for ratification by referendum.

            But you would need to amend the Constitution *first* to allow for that change.

            You know that.

          • rinohunter

            They didn’t “amend the Constitution *first* to allow for that change” in 1787.

          • Brent Dunklau

            The Articles of Confederation were, in essence, a treaty between 13 sovereign nations. Normally, the only way changes in a treaty can be ratified is by the approval of all parties to the treaty.

            However, a treaty can provide for something less than unanimous approval if all the parties agree to a new approval process before it goes into effect. This is exactly what the Founders did.


            And since you really like to read, here is a much more in depth analysis of what really happened in 1787…


          • rinohunter

            “if all the parties agree to a new approval process before it goes into effect.”

            So, where is the vote of approval? Congress transmitted without approval. The states never held a vote on the new ratification process. They also merely complied. It wasn’t by the authority of the States that the changed ratification process was approved. It was the higher power of the people themselves.

            “The convention of Virginia had not the shadow of a legal, or
            constitutional form about it. It derived its existence and authority
            from a higher source; a power which can supersede all law, and annul the
            constitution itself — namely, the people, in their sovereign,
            unlimited, and unlimitable authority and capacity.” – Kamper v. Hawkins
            (1793), 3 Va. 20, 74.

        • Sharon

          They were not operating under the Articles of Confederation, but outside it.

          This would not apply to the convention under consideration, however. It WILL be operating under Article V of the Constitution. The applications all say so explicitly.

          • rinohunter

            Sharon stated, “They were not operating under the Articles of Confederation”.

            Interesting claim. Let’s explore the history here.

            The original call for the convention of 1787 came from the Annapolis Convention of 1786. In that call, they specifically quoted the ratification requirement found in Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation.

            Later, Congress also issued a call for the states to convene at the 1787 convention, and used similar wording regarding ratification, again, referencing the Article XIII ratification requirement.

            But most importantly, the delegate commissions from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Georgia, New York, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Maryland, and New Hampshire to their delegates, also referenced the ratification requirement of Article XIII.

            So, by the convention calls from Annapolis and Congress, as well as the delegate commissions from 9 states, the convention was convened under the auspices of authority of Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation.

            There really is no rational way around this. From the outset, the convention was intended to operate under the Articles of Confederation.

            Yet, once convened, they simply discarded this premise, and transformed the convention into a sovereign body, representing the “supreme authority” of the people themselves, no longer subject to constitutional provisions or instructions in delegate commissions.

            So, your statement is essentially true, but not in the way you intended it. The convention was convened with the intent for it to operate under the Articles of Confederation. But once they convened, they changed who they were accountable to, “not operating under the Articles of Confederation, but outside it.”

          • Sharon

            So assuming you are correct (which I am not necessarily granting) – when they changed the ratification process, do you deny that they created a new process that ensured that the Constitution reflected the will of the people?

            And if you are honestly concerned about such a thing happening at an Article V convention (and aren’t just throwing out red herrings), could you outline how this process would look? I just can’t imagine what kind of changes could be proposed at such a convention that would stand a chance of being accepted by the American people, regardless of the process used.

          • rinohunter

            I can understand you “not necessarily granting” that what I’ve stated is correct. It directly conflicts with what convention promoters will admit. Yet, the historical record is easily verified. I encourage you to do your own research, and verify what I’ve shared.

            Whether the new process truly “ensured that the Constitution reflected the will of the people” is a matter of debate among historians. There were a number of interesting antics pulled to clear the way for ratification of the new Constitution. Whether the Constitution was ratified because of this, or in spite of it, I cannot say. However, in the end, I do believe ratification of the new constitution was certainly a good thing.

            And yes, I am honestly concerned about the precedent set by the 1787 convention, being followed again in today’s political environment.

            You indirectly posed the question, “what kind of changes could be proposed at such a convention that would stand a chance of being accepted by the American people”?

            Look to the COS “mock convention”, which they held last September. Granted, it was not a very good representation of a real convention, since COS hand-picked the delegates, which ended up being over 96% republicans. But even with such a lop-sided delegation, they came up with 6 amendment proposals, the majority of which would (inadvertently?) expand federal power. For example, two of them mention methods to overturn federal laws which are created by the President. Of course, the Constitution never granted the President the power to create law (see Article 1, Section 1). Most legal scholars agree, by mentioning the President having the power to create law (as these two amendment proposals do), it grants the President the power to create law. Yes, that is an expansion of federal power. There are several other errors such as this in their proposed amendments.

            Now, that is just what comes out of a conservative/republican dominated convention. What happens when we add moderates and liberals to the mix (likely having a super-majority over conservatives)?

            Remember the great compromise of the 1787 convention, between the big states and the small states? Today, we would have another “great compromise”, between liberals and conservatives (or even between moderates and liberal).

            Liberal proponents for a convention have repeatedly declared that, regardless of the topic for which a convention is called, they will not allow any proposals out of a convention, unless it is a package deal, which includes “campaign finance reform”, and eliminating the Electoral College. (If you are unclear of the damage each of these would do, we can discuss this further)

            Finally, remember that the vast majority of this nation has been fooled into thinking we are a “democracy”, and to wrongly believe that democracy is a good thing.

            They are now promoting that, in the event of a convention, they should follow the example of the 1787 convention, discard the current ratification process, and establish ratification by a simple majority vote of the people. Of course, this would be much more “democratic”, and would be widely supported by the American people. Yet, how did the majority vote do in the last presidential election? They voted for a corrupt socialist.

            In summary, I believe the amendment proposals that come from the moderate-to-conservative side will likely be heavily flawed, as the mock convention proposals were. I believe they will only be approved by the convention with a left-right compromise, granting unacceptable concessions to the left. And with or without a change in ratification, I believe the American people generally are ignorant enough of the great document we already have, that they would support ratification of this bad compromise if the media spun it favorably.

            As Scalia warned, “This is not a good century to write a constitution.” To that, I would add, “in whole or in part”.

    • Michael Alexander

      Actually, Rinohunter, Madison’s view “evolved,” as they say… yours is the only view that hasn’t. Please note the date of this quote.

      “Should the provisions of the Constitution… be found not to secure the government and rights of the states, against usurpations and abuses on the part of the United States, the final resort within the purview of the Constitution, lies in an amendment of the Constitution, according to a process applicable by the states.” — James Madison, August 1830, in a Letter to Edward Everett

      And as for that old, tired, groundless, and thoroughly debunked claim that the delegates to Philadelphia “overstepped” their mandate, suffice it to say that some were, indeed, sent there by their states to amend the Articles of Confederation (although nowhere does the word “amend” appear in any of their commissions). The majority, however, was sent to render it “adequate to the exigencies of the union,” as resolved at the Annapolis Convention the previous year. Clearly, there was much heated debate at the Convention, but the majority prevailed, thank God.

      Lastly, had the document they produced been faulty in any way, it’s inconceivable that it would have been ratified by all thirteen states, as it eventually was, with Rhode Island bringing up the rear in May of 1790.

      It’s called history, Rinohunter. You’re certainly entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own set of facts.

      Be informed. Get involved. Sign the petition ==> #COSProject

      • rinohunter

        Michael, you too are “entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own set of facts.”

        You totally sidestepped the fact that Madison admitted they had exceeded their commission, and the fact that the context of that admission has nothing to do with the limits of power you mentioned that only a few states placed upon their delegates. When they exceeded their commission, it was regarding a detail which was included in the commissions of 9 states, the instructions from the Annapolis convention, and from Congress.

        Surely you know the context of Madison’s quote, right?

        • WetlinaWoman

          Madison changed his mind. His opinion evolved and later supported the 1787 convention.

          • rinohunter

            Madison didn’t change his mind. He never opposed the 1787 convention. He was always its most enthusiastic supporter. He admitted they “departed from the tenor of their commission”, but he also stated they did so by appealing to the highest power in the land, the “supreme authority” of the people themselves, to alter or abolish their governments.

      • rinohunter

        If you knew your history, you’d know that Madison’s view on Article V didn’t “evolve”. He always said it was for “the amendment of errors” in the Constitution. Your citation of his letter to Everett is just one more example of this. “Should the provisions of the Constitution… be found not to secure…” is pointing to flaws in the provisions of the Constitution as being the reason for using Article V. He never said it was for reining in blatant violations of the Constitution.

        And his clear opposition to using the convention provision in Article V, as found in his letters to George Turberville in Nov. 1788, and George Eve in Jan. 1789, was stated to be opposition “in the present temper of America”. He never was universally against ever using the convention option, but felt it extremely dangerous in the conditions of political turmoil that existed at the time.

        As I suspect you are well aware, but are choosing to ignore, Madison indisputably “admitted that the convention have departed from the tenor of their commission.” I suspect you also know this admission has nothing to do with the question of amending vs writing a new constitution. (He covered that elsewhere in Federalist 40.) This admission had to do with violating a provision contained in the commissions from 9 of the 12 states which attended the convention (thus, the majority were under these instructions).

        As you stated, “It’s called history … You’re certainly entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own set of facts.”

        I love your call for everyone to “be informed”, combined with your misinformation. Classic.

    • Sharon

      Michael Farris has documented the history of the 1787 Convention in excruciating detail. The idea that the convention exceeded its authority is a historical fiction.

      • rinohunter

        Yet Mr. Farris doesn’t even touch on the limit of power that was contained in 9 of the 12 state commissions, which, when ignored, caused Madison to declare they had “exceeded the tenor of their commission”. I wonder why he didn’t address that?

        This is a classic example of the danger of trusting in an “expert” to do your research for you. They can easily lead you astray.

        • Sharon

          I’m glad you corrected the quote. It is debatable what Madison meant when he use the “tenor of their commission,” but I would argue that he was referring to the “connotation,” the public expectation of the goal of the convention, not the legal requirements of their commissions.

          So it sounds like you are saying that Madison and Friends not only (a) knowingly and deliberately violated their commissions, but also (b) went further and wrote into Article V a process that they knew (from firsthand experience) to be unsafe and potentially destructive to the new constitutional system.

          • rinohunter

            No, what Madison meant is not debatable. He made his point abundantly clear, to anyone who wishes to know the truth. Read the entire context of his quote:

            “In one particular it is admitted that the convention have departed from the tenor of their commission. Instead of reporting a plan requiring the confirmation OF THE LEGISLATURES OF ALL THE STATES, they have reported a plan which is to be confirmed by the PEOPLE, and may be carried into effect by NINE STATES ONLY.”

            There is no question here. In 1787, just like today, there was a constitutionally-required method of ratification for any proposed changes to the Constitution, only in 1787, it was a much higher bar. Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation required “such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.”

            This requirement was referred to in the original call for a convention issued by the Annapolis Convention of 1786, the call for a convention issued by Congress, and most importantly, in the delegate COMMISSIONS issued by 9 of the 12 states who attended the 1787 convention.

            So, when Madison admitted they “departed from the tenor of their commission”, he is referring to the fact that the convention changed the constitutionally-required ratification process, contrary to the instructions of 75% of the state commissions.

            Did Congress ever agree to the new Constitution? Richard Henry Lee, a member of Congress at the time, clearly says no!

            He declared,
            “They found it most eligible at last to transmit it merely, without approving or disapproving”.

            The states did the same. There is no record of any state legislature voting to approve the new constitution. They also acted to “transmit it merely, without approving or disapproving”.

            Madison explained in Federalist 40 that, although they did “depart from the tenor of their commission”, they did not act without authority”. They appealed to the “supreme authority” of the people themselves, to “abolish or alter their governments as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness”. That supreme authority trumps any limits placed upon the convention by lesser authorities, such as the state commissions, or the existing constitution.

            If the Constitution was legitimately adopted (I believe it was), then a convention held today can legitimately do the same thing, discard the constitutionally-require ratification process, and ignore limits of power expressed in a super-majority of state commissions, by appealing to the supreme power of the people to “abolish or alter”.

          • WetlinaWoman

            All sovereign states met together to decide how to make their union sufficient to keep them from being picked off by Britain and other European powers. These states had the right to make changes their commissioners–and then their citizens–could accept. The Articles of Confederation were their original creation. It failed. They started over to take care of mutually-necessitated business. Today, we’re all bound by the Constitution. Amending it is hard to do but the Founders gave us a means outside the federal jurisdiction to convene to do just that. Then ratification is the next high hurdle. All legal from start (1787) to finish (now).

          • rinohunter

            Yes, but this in no way addresses or refutes the history I’ve illustrated above.

            And an Article V convention is not completely outside of federal jurisdiction, nor entirely within it. It is applied for by the states, and called by Congress. Congress and the courts have historically taken the position that Congress determines the details and makes all laws and rules regarding the call of a convention. But the convention becomes a power unto itself, once convened.

          • WetlinaWoman

            Well, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised that “Congress and the courts have historically taken the position that Congress determines the details and makes all laws and rules regarding the call of a convention.” The Constitution does not specify their making all those laws and rules that govern how a convention of states would proceed. It’s a sovereign state thing. If the convention does indeed become a power unto itself once convened, that’s its right and prerogative. Any wacky ideas that might be voted on as amendment proposals still would have to pass muster through the ratification process. Too high a hurdle to mess up the whole country. That wouldn’t happen. More likely is that nothing much would be proposed in spite of high hopes before hand. But anything duly passed and then properly ratified would go a long way towards fixing the mess we’re in today. At the very least, such attention would be focused on the process of law making that generations would be influenced for good.

          • rinohunter

            You stated, “The Constitution does not specify their making all those laws and rules that govern how a convention of states would proceed.”

            Actually, it does. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18, says Congress has the power “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any
            Department or Officer thereof.”

            Since one of the powers vested in Congress (considered a department of the government of the United States) is the power to call a convention, Congress and the Courts have interpreted this to mean Congress makes all laws regarding the call of a convention.

            But you totally missed the lesson from history, found in my first comment which you responded to. The convention of 1787 threw out the constitutionally-required ratification process, and replaced it with a much easier one. A convention held today can do the same. So don’t count on the 38 state ratification requirement remaining intact.

          • WetlinaWoman

            You: “Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18, says Congress has the power ‘To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any
            Department or Officer thereof.”

            Is *that* the crux of your issue? In that case, no government entity at all would have any claim to authority whatsoever–not without Congress’ permission. Where would the parameters of this argument end? Don’t you realize the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 delineates what is the jurisdiction for law making by Congress for *federal* jurisdictions, not for any other–including sovereign states’ meetings? This could be taken to ridiculous extremes beyond the borders even of the states, down to counties and cities and whatever.

            Also, throwing out of the Articles of Convention was done entirely appropriately. The Articles were not the sovereign entity. The states that created the Articles were the sovereigns to be obeyed. Since the commissioners sent by those states couldn’t find a way to fix the Articles, they abandoned them for something better. They had that right, as long as the states and their citizens ratified that action, which they did–the last two states eventually joining in with them. No illegality whatsoever.

          • rinohunter

            No, that is not the “crux” of my issue. I bring it up simply to correct the misinformation which is so commonly spread by convention promoters.

            And no, you have totally missed the point I’m making about the meaning of the Necessary and Proper clause. It only applies to areas of power delegated to the federal government, but it does apply to ALL of them, including the power delegated to Congress to call the convention. Whether you agree with this or not, it is the position historically supported by Congress and the courts, and we can expect that to continue to be the case.

            I’ve never claimed the Constitution was illegal. It was drafted and adopted contrary to the state commissions, and contrary to the ratification process outlined in the existing constitution. But the ultimate sovereign entity is the people themselves. Madison explained this quite clearly in Federalist 40. Although they exceeded the limits of power imposed by the states and the existing constitution, they appealed to “this supreme authority … [of] the people themselves … to abolish or alter their governments”.

            They went over the heads of the authority of the states and the Constitution. The limits of power were not binding, because the “supreme authority” of the people is not subject to these.

        • WetlinaWoman

          Farris has addressed it before. So has Rob Natelson but you’ll immediately knock them both down because you want to believe only your side has all the pertinent facts.

          • rinohunter

            No, I knock them down for misrepresenting their sources.

            For example, I’ve often pointed out that, just as the 1787 convention abandoned the constitutionally-required ratification process they were under, a convention held today could do the same, writing their own rules for ratification.

            Natelson’s response was, “In Hawke vs. Smith (1920), the Supreme Court ruled that no legislature or convention has the authority to change the ratification process.”

            Now, I challenge you to find, ANYWHERE in Hawke vs. Smith, which says conventions can’t change the ratification process.

            The closest I can find says, “It is not the function of courts or legislative bodies, national or state, to alter the [ratification] method which the Constitution has fixed.”

            Do you notice what is missing? Is says NOTHING about CONVENTIONS altering the ratification process! Of course, the Supreme Court would never say that, or it would undermine the legitimacy of the actions of the 1787 convention.

            So, can you find what Natelson said is in Hawke vs. Smith, or do you concede that Natelson is using a false citation?

          • Conservative one

            Again, the states ratified the change to the ratification process. They did not just alter it, they lawfully proposed the change and it was ratified first. You are claiming they just made the change on their own from the convention and that is false.

          • rinohunter

            So, you claim the states (& Congress) ratified the change in ratification first? Interesting claim. I’ve seen this claim made a couple times before. The most interesting aspect to it is that no one has ever been able to produce any historical documentation to support this claim.

            Can you? If your claim is correct, there should be a record from Congress and all 13 state legislatures, voting on whether or not to approve the new ratification process.

            If you can find it, I’d love to see it.

        • Conservative one

          If you read them all you would find that 10 states gave them the authority to do what was necessary beyond the Articles of Confederation. The only 2 who limited their delegates were NY & MA whose delegates either went back home as a result or simply stayed and observed the proceedings, but did not sign the resulting document.

          • rinohunter

            If you had read all the state commissions, you’d know that 9 states reiterated the Article XIII ratification process to their delegates. As you well know, this was not followed.

      • rinohunter

        So, if you are insisting on trusting in the research of others, it is vital that you choose your experts carefully.

        Madison says the convention exceeded their commission. Mr. Farris says it did not. Who do toy believe?

        • WetlinaWoman

          Madison’s later opinion. Farris now, too.

          • rinohunter

            Madison’s opinion on this didn’t change.

        • Conservative one

          Speaking of experts- here is what the states actually wrote in their instructions to the delegates-From the actual Commissions of the 12 states-10 of which clearly didn’t limit delegates to only amending the Articles of Confederation:

          From the VA Commission:
          to meet such Deputies as may be appointed and authorized by other States, to assemble in Convention at Philadelphia, as above recommended, and to join with them in devising and discussing all such alterations and further provisions, as may be necessary to render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of the Union

          From the NJ Commission:
          for the purpose of taking into consideration the state of the Union as to trade and other important objects, and of devising such further provisions as shall appear necessary to render the Constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies thereof.

          From the PA Commission:
          with powers to meet such deputies as may be appointed and authorized by the other states to assemble in the said convention at the city aforesaid, and to join with them in devising, deliberating on, and discussing all such alterations and further provisions as may be necessary to render the federal constitution fully adequate to the exigencies of the Union

          From the NC Commission:
          are hereby authorized as Deputies from this state, to meet at Philadelphia on the first day of May next, then and there to meet and confer with such Deputies as may be appointed by the other states for similar purposes, and with them to discuss and decide upon the most effectual means to remove the defects of our federal union

          From the GA Commission:
          and they are hereby appointed commissioners, who, or any two or more of them, are hereby authorized as deputies from this state to meet such deputies as may be appointed and authorized by other states, to assemble in convention at Philadelphia, and to join with them in devising and discussing all such alterations and farther provisions, as may be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the union

          From the DE Commission:
          are hereby constituted and appointed Deputies from this State, with Powers to meet such Deputies as may be appointed and authorized by the other States to assemble in the said Convention at the City aforesaid, and to join with them in devising, deliberating on, and discussing, such Alterations and further Provisions, as may be necessary to render the Federal Constitution adequate to the Exigencies of the Union

          From the NH Commission:
          are hereby authorized, and empowered, as Deputies from this State to meet at Philadelphia said Convention, or any other place to which the said Convention may be adjourned; for the purposes aforesaid, there to confer with such deputies, as are, or may be appointed by the other States for similar purposes; and with them to discuss and decide upon the most effectual means to remedy the defects of our federal union; and to procure, and secure, the enlarged purposes which it was intended to effect

          From the MD Commission:
          be appointed and authorized, on behalf of this state, to meet such deputies as may be appointed and authorized by any other of the United States to assemble in convention at Philadelphia, for the purpose of revising the federal system, and to join with them in considering such alterations, and further provisions, as may be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the union

          From the CT Commission:
          are hereby authorized and empowered to represent this State therein, & to confer with such Delegates appointed by the several States, for the Purposes mentioned in the sd Act of Congress, that may be present and duly empowered to act in said Convention, and to discuss upon such Alterations and Provisions, agreeable to the general Principles of Republican Government, as they shall think proper, to render the federal Constitution adequate to the Exigencies of Government, and the Preservation of the Union

          From the SC Commission:
          are hereby authorized as deputies from this state. to meet such deputies or commissioners as may be appointed and authorized by other of the united states, to assemble in convention at the city of Philadelphia in the month of May next after passing this act. or as soon thereafter as may be, and to join with such deputies or commissioners, they being duly authorized and empowered in devising and discussing all such alterations, clauses, articles and provisions as may be thought necessary to render the federal constitution entirely adequate to the actual situation and future good government of the confederated states

          From the NY Commission:
          for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress, and to the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the several states, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union

          From the MA Commission:
          for the sole & express purpose of revising the articles of Confederation, and reporting to Congress & the several Legislatures, such alterations & provisions therein, as shall when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the States, render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government; & the preservation of the Union”—
          they are hereby instructed not to exceed to any alterations or additions that may be proposed to be made in the present Articles of Confederation, which may appear to them, not to consist with the true republican Spirit and Genius of the Said Confederation:

          • rinohunter

            I’m impressed you took the time to cite each of those. However, that is irrelevant to my citation from Madison. And you failed to note in your citations of the state commissions the provision found in the commissions from 9 states, referencing the ratification requirement found in Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation. (See Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Georgia, New York, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Maryland, and New Hampshire)

            It was this aspect of the state commissions to which Madison referred when he said, “In one particular it is admitted that the convention have departed from the tenor of their commission. Instead of reporting a plan requiring the confirmation OF THE LEGISLATURES OF ALL THE STATES, they have reported a plan which is to be confirmed by the PEOPLE, and may be carried into effect by NINE STATES ONLY.”

            Contrary to the existing constitutionally-required ratification process, and contrary to the commissions from 9 states, they threw out the ratification process, and created a much easier one. This caused Madison to admit they “departed from the tenor of their commission”.

          • Conservative one

            They actually did not throw out anything. They sent the new method of ratification out to be changed as it was unanimously by all 13 states. then it was used to ratify the new Constitution, which was ultimately ratified also by all 13 states.

          • rinohunter

            So you are claiming there was a two step process, with ratification first being approved by all 13 state legislatures? (Of course, it would have to be approved by Congress as well)

            Can you provide any evidence of this? Where is the documentation of a vote, in Congress and all 13 state legislatures, specifically on whether or not to approve the new ratification process?

            Evidence, please.

          • Conservative one

            Congress did not have the authority to ratify-the convention was not called by Congress and was called by state authority-you keep trying to convince people that Congress was in charge so your stated rules apply-they did not.

          • rinohunter

            Nine states, Congress, and the original call for the convention from the 1786 Annapolis convention all referenced the Article XIII ratification process would apply to the results of the 1787 convention.

            You have been trying to make a case that they used the existing ratification process (Article XIII) to change the ratification process. If that is true, It would have to be “agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State”.

            So, to prove your claim is correct, you need to find evidence of Congress and all 13 state legislatures voting specifically on whether or not to approve the new ratification process.

            I’m waiting for your evidence.

          • Conservative one

            Again, you are all wrong – Congress had zero to do with this-get it right- for once- this was a call from the sovereign states and stop trying to insert Congress into this. If they weren’t involved their rules did not apply-the constitutional convention was “extra” constitutional to the Articles of Confederation and what is in the Articles has no bearing or weight on the matter. Now go away and stop trying to rewrite history.

          • rinohunter

            So, 9 states saying they would include Congress in the ratification process, as required by the existing Constitution, means nothing???

          • Conservative one

            What part of you are wrong now go away do you still not understand after what 4 years? There is no question here to answer because you are incorrect.

          • rinohunter

            Saying, “you’re wrong”, is not a rebuttal. It is a statement of baseless opinion. To make it a rebuttal, you need evidence.

            So, by what evidence do you dismiss the commissions of 9 states, saying the convention would be under the ratification process of Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation?

            Telling me to “go away”, rather than providing evidence, is childish evasion.

          • Shawn Meehan

            We can see by the small sample below, COS robots are trained to ignore the complete terms of 1787 delegate commissions. Yes, the word “exigencies” appears in some commissions but doesn’t override the rest of the document. 9 states clearly mandated that anything that came out of the 1787 Convention be approved by their legislatures and Congress just like Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation dictated.

            It matters not how the convention was called as 9 states clearly mandated the process. Further, Rhode Island, who stayed away from the convention wisely smelling a power grab, sent a letter clearly admonishing the convention to comply with the Article 13 restrictions of the Articles of Confederation.

            We know state legislatures did not comply because Article 7 of the new Constitution appealed directly to the highest power in the land, The People, via ratification conventions, to ratify it. Nor did Congress approve. They simply forwarded it. COS regularly lies about this point skipping over the clear text of the record.

            “The convention of Virginia had not the shadow of a legal, or constitutional form about it. It derived its existence and authority from a higher source; a power which can supersede all law, and annul the constitution itself — namely, the people, in their sovereign, unlimited, and unlimitable authority and capacity.” – Kamper v. Hawkins (1793), 3 Va. 20, 74.

            Virginia: “…and in reporting such an Act for that purpose, to the United States in Congress, as, when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several States, will effectually provide for the same.”

            Pennsylvania: “..and in reporting such act or acts for that purpose, to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several states, will effectually provide for the same.”

            North Carolina: “…and that they report such an act to the General Assembly of this state, as when agreed to by them, will effectually provide for the same.”

            Rhode Island’s letter of Sept. 15, 1787 clearly pointed out the plenipotentiary nature of a national convention (…”we could not consistently appoint Delegates in a Convention, which might be the means of dissolving the Congress of the Union and having a Congress without a Confederation”) and should serve as a clear warning to modern “amendments convention” supporters that much, if not all, of their “assurances” against the possibility of wholesale changes of our form of government are in effect the same mistake that Rhode Island made in their calculations.

          • Conservative one

            But yet you ignore the full context of the words in 10 states’ commissions that clearly did not limit their delegates authority to the Articles-But I’m the one ignoring history. LOL you are funny. It does matter how a convention got called-the sovereignty of the states trumped any power of Congress under the Articles which by the way did not give Congress the authority to call a convention. But facts just don’t seem to work for you do they?

          • rinohunter

            Did you even read Mr. Meehan’s post before responding? Yes, the states instructions were superior to those from Congress. That is why he mentioned that 9 states included in their delegate commissions instructions to follow the Articles of Confederation form of ratification.

            Yes, you are the one ignoring history.

          • Shawn Meehan

            You need to get some English instruction and perhaps an attorney to help you. You’re trying to champion one part of a text and ignore another.

            States absolutely did limit their delegates which is why the phrase you (in gross error) ignore: “and in reporting such an Act for that purpose, to the United States in Congress, as, when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several States, will effectually provide for the same.” The convention skipped this.

            Several Founders admitted they exceeded their authority and in fact went on to rationalize their behavior as having to be done. This is a clear precedent that Meckler will use on behalf of the Koch Brothers. VERY VERY CLEAR they exceeded their authority and admitted to it.

            I want everyone that reads this to understand this is a very clear indication of the dangers of a Koch Brothers / Soros convention. It isn’t needed and it will use the 1787 precedent to mold a corporatist constitution.

            PROOF 1787 exceeded their authority:

            “In one particular IT IS ADMITTED THAT THE CONVENTION HAVE [did] DEPARTED FROM THE TENOR OF THEIR COMMISSION. Instead of reporting a plan requiring the confirmation [of the legislatures] of all the states, they have reported a plan which is to be confirmed [by the people,] and may be carried into effect by nine States only.” — James Madison Federalist 40 (Emphasis mine)

            “…it is therefore essential that such changes be instituted by some informal and unauthorized propositions….”
            — James Madison Federalist 40

            “The States sent us here to provide for the exigences of the Union. To rely on & propose any plan not adequate to these exigences, merely because it was not clearly within our powers, would be to sacrifice the means to the end.”
            — Mr. Hamilton, Madison’s Notes, June 18, 1787

            “How did the federal Convention meet? From the beginning of time, in any age or country, did ever men meet under so loose, uncurbed a commission? There was nothing to restrain them but their characters and reputation. They could not organize a system without defects. This cannot, then, be perfect.”
            — Mr. Monroe, Virginia Ratifying Convention

            “At first Mason acted hand in hand with delegates who wanted to create a substantially stronger central government. He apparently supported the plan of government the Virginia delegation proposed in the opening days of the Convention, a plan that closely resembled Madison’s pre-Convention ideas and included a congressional veto on state laws. He was ready to tear up the Confederation and start over. When a New York delegate said the Convention had authority only to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation, Mason answered him: There were, he said, crises when “all the ordinary cautions yielded to public necessity.”
            — Maier, Pauline (2011-06-01). Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (p. 42). Simon & Schuster.

            “Does not the thirteenth article of the Confederation expressly require that no alteration shall be made without the unanimous consent of all the states?”
            — Mr. Madison, Debate in Virginia Ratifying Convention, 5-6 June 1788

            “I would make this enquiry about of those worthy characters who composed a part of the late federal convention…I have the highest veneration for those gentlemen; but sir, give me leave to demand, what right had they to say, We the People?…who authorized them to speak the language of We the People instead of We the States?… The people gave them no power to use their name. That they exceeded their power is perfectly clear…The federal convention ought to have amended the old system –for this purpose they were solely delegated. The object of their mission extended to no other considerations.”
            — Patrick Henry – June 4, 1788, Speech at The Virginia Ratifying Convention

            “The States sent us here to provide for the exigencies of the Union. To rely on and propose any plan not adequate to these exigencies, merely because it was not clearly within our powers, would be to sacrifice the means to the end. It may be said, that the States cannot ratify a plan not within the purview of the Article of the Confederation providing for alterations and amendments.”
            — Monday June 18th, 1787, Madison, James (2005-12-01). Journal of the Federal Convention: Volumes 1 & 2 (Kindle Locations 2072-2075). Packard Technologies. Kindle Edition.

            Upon due consideration of the Constitution under which we now Act, some of us were clearly of opinion that the 13th article of the Confederation precluded us from giving an opinion concerning a plan subversive of the present system and eventually forming a New Confederacy of Nine instead of 13 States….This compromise was settled and they took the opportunity of inserting the word Unanimously, which applied only to simple transmission, hoping to have it mistaken for an Unanimous approbation of the thing –Richard Henry Lee L— Richard Henry Lee to George Mason, 1 Oct. 1787 Mason Papers 3:996–97

            “The Convention of 1787 was called “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Article of Confederation.”
            — Associate Justice Goldberg

            “General PINCKNEY expressed a doubt whether the act of Congress recommending the Convention, or the commissions of the Deputies to it, would authorize a discussion of a system founded on different principles from the Federal Constitution. Mr. GERRY seemed to entertain the same doubt.”
            — Madison, James (2005-12-01). Journal of the Federal Convention: Volumes 1 & 2 (Kindle Locations 643-645). Packard Technologies. Kindle Edition.

            “On 26 and 27 September Congress debated the manner in which it would send the Constitution to the states. Critics of the Constitution wanted it transmitted to the state legislatures with an indication that the Convention had violated Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation and the congressional resolution of 21 February 1787.”
            — The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution Digital Edition, ed. John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino, Richard Leffler, Charles H. Schoenleber and Margaret A. Hogan. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009 NOTE: This was reconstructed from the Journals of Congress, manuscript motions made in Congress, Congressman Melancton Smith’s notes of debates, Richard Henry Lee’s amendments, and the letterbooks of the Secretary of Congress.
            (This means that the Convention illegally changed the rules required to ratify any changes to the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union, as well as the original charter from Congress for the Philadelphia Convention.)

            “He was decidedly of opinion that the power of the Convention was restrained to amendments of a Federal nature, and having for their basis the Confederacy in being. The acts of Congress, the tenor of the acts of the States, the commissions produced by the several Deputations, all proved this. And this limitation of the power to an amendment of the Confederacy marked the opinion of the States, that it was unnecessary and improper to go further. He was sure that this was the case with his State. New York would never have concurred in sending Deputies to the Convention, if she had supposed the deliberations were to turn on a consolidation of the States, and a National Government.”
            — Saturday, 16 June, 1787 in James Madison’s Journal describing the comments of Delegate John Lansing, Jr. from New York, who LEFT the Convention July 10th after realising they exceeded their authority. Source: Madison, James (2005-12-01). Journal of the Federal Convention

            “We are told that we assume the power, and that we are merely the agents and attorneys, of the people. Sir, we are the delegates of the people, chosen to act in their stead. We have the same power and the same right, within the scope of the business assigned to us, that they would have, were they all convened in this hall.”
            — Benjamin F. Butler, Massachusetts Convention of 1853.

            “THE ASSENT OF THE STATES, IN THEIR SOVEREIGN CAPACITY, IS IMPLIED IN CALLING A CONVENTION, AND THUS SUBMITTING THAT INSTRUMENT TO THE PEOPLE. But the people were at perfect liberty to accept or reject it; and their act was final. It required not the affirmance, and could not be negatived, by the State governments. The constitution, when thus adopted, was of complete obligation, and bound the State sovereignties.

            “The convention of Virginia had not the shadow of a legal, or constitutional form about it. It derived its existence and authority from a higher source; a power which can supersede all law, and annul the constitution itself — namely, the people, in their sovereign, unlimited, and unlimitable authority and capacity.”
            — Kamper v. Hawkins (1793), 3 Va. 20, 74.

            “Neither the calling of a convention, nor the convention itself is a proceeding under the constitution. It is over and beyond the constitution.”
            — Journal, 69th N. Y. Assembly, p. 919.

            “When a law becomes the instrumental process of amendment, it is not because the legislature possesses any inherent power to change the existing constitution THROUGH A CONVENTION, BUT BECAUSE IT IS THE ONLY MEANS THROUGH WHICH AN AUTHORIZED CONSENT OF THE WHOLE PEOPLE, THE ENTIRE STATE, CAN BE LAWFULLY OBTAINED IN A STATE OF PEACE. … If the legislature, possessing these powers of government, be unwilling to pass a law to take the sense of the people, … the remedy is still in their own hands; they can elect new representatives that will.” (EMPHASIS MINE)
            — Wells v. Bain (1872), 75 Pa. 39, 47-48.

            “During this debate, we were threatened that, if we did not agree to the system proposed, we never should have an opportunity of meeting in convention to deliberate on another; and this was frequently urged. In answer, we called upon them to show what was to prevent it, and from what quarter was our danger to proceed. Was it from a foreign enemy? Our distance from Europe, and the political situation of that country, left us but little to fear. Was there any ambitious state or states, who, in violation of every sacred obligation, was preparing to enslave the other states, and raise itself to consequence on the ruin of the others? Or was there any such ambitious individual? We did not apprehend it to be the case. But suppose it to be true; it rendered it the more necessary that we should sacredly guard against a system which might enable all those ambitious views to be carried into effect, even under the sanction of the Constitution and government. In fine, sir, all [356] these threats were treated with contempt, and they were told that we apprehended but one reason to prevent the states meeting again in convention; that, when they discovered the part this Convention had acted, and how much its members were abusing the trust reposed in them, the states would never trust another convention.”
            — The debates in the several state conventions on the adoption of the federal Constitution, as recommended by the general convention at Philadelphia, in 1787. Together with the Journal of the federal convention, Luther Martin’s letter, Yates’s minutes, Congressional opinions, Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of ‘98-‘99, and other illustrations of the Constitution … 2d ed., with considerable additions. Collected and rev. from contemporary publications, by Jonathan Elliot. Pub. under the sanction of Congress. (1836), 5 vols.

      • rinohunter

        Yet, Mr. Farris’ conclusion clearly contradicts that of James Madison, cited above, and covered in “excruciating detail” in the above video.

        They can’t both be right. Either Farris is right, or Madison is.

      • Conservative one

        rinohunter has been on the wrong side of history forever. He still can’t understand this was not about what Congress had the power or duty to do under the Article of Confederation vs a constitutional convention under the control of the sovereignty of the states.

    • Conservative one

      Except that 10 states sent delegates to that convention with the authority to do what they did if the Articles of Confederation could not be fixed. Only 2 states restricted their delegates to work ONLY on the Articles. Those men either went home or merely observed what went on at the convention, and even then their states ultimately ratified the Constitution after it was presented to the states. Go back and read their written commissions because you don’t have the facts on your side in this.

      • rinohunter

        But 9 states commissions made reference to the Article XIII ratification process (from the Articles of Confederation), instructing their delegates that whatever changes they came up with, would be required to follow that process.

        It was of this which Madison stated, “In one particular it is admitted that the convention have departed from
        the tenor of their commission. Instead of reporting a plan requiring the
        confirmation OF THE LEGISLATURES OF ALL THE STATES, they have reported a
        plan which is to be confirmed by the PEOPLE, and may be carried into
        effect by NINE STATES ONLY.”

        Yes, I’ve read their commissions. As Madison admitted, they “departed from the tenor of [the] commission” of nine states. Oh, and it was the existing constitutionally-required ratification process as well. So they “departed” from the commissions of nine states as well as from the Constitutional requirement.

    • Sharon

      I think the 1787 Convention serves as a tremendous model for the Article V convention we are advocating.

      The Framers of the Constitution did something a little out of the box – not illegal, but something bold and even controversial at the time. But it was something they knew was absolutely essential to the preservation of the Union. And history has richly vindicated their understanding of the needs and courage in addressing the problems.

      History will similarly viindicate those who work to bring about this convention of states, in spite of the fear mongers and naysayers. It is essential to preserve the Union as something resembling what the Founders established.

      • rinohunter

        Yes, “The Framers of the Constitution did something a little out of the box – not illegal”. But what they did sets a striking precedent, which strongly conflicts with all the reassuring claims convention promoters are promising to state legislators, in order to sell them on the idea. The convention can discard the constitutionally-required ratification process, just like they did in 1787. They can “depart from the tenor of their [state] commission.” They can do whatever they may claim is “absolutely essential to the preservation of the Union”, regardless of any limitations the states may seek to impose.

        But my biggest concern is the concern Madison expressed in a letter to George Turberville in Nov. 1788. “Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first
        Convention … I should
        tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of

        The “present temper of America” in 1788, caused him great concern about what would come out of another convention. The present temper of America today cause Justice Scalia enough concern to declare, “This is not a good century to write a constitution!”

        In today’s constitutionally-illiterate society, making changes to the Constitution is akin to inviting love poets to do heart surgery. They are far more likely to kill the patient than to do any good.

        This is demonstrated by the COS “mock convention” held last September, where 137 delegates, representing all 50 states, came together and did a role-play of a real convention. They proposed 6 amendments, which sound good to most conservatives (the delegation at the mock convention was over 96% conservatives), yet most of the proposals would actually EXPAND federal power, compared to what the Constitution presently says.

        “This is not a good century to write a constitution” in whole or in part, “in the present temper of America”.

  • mickeywhite

    The Constitution is NOT the problem, Congress Not Following the Constitution IS the Problem. Change Congress, NOT the Constitution.

    • ClymerCliff

      Wrong. They are following the Constitution. Just the new one written by the SCOTUS.

    • Joe Stephans

      Example of Einsteins statement of insanity. You keep banging your head against that well.

    • Brent Dunklau

      Congress says they ARE following the Constitution because they are following the one interpreted by the Supreme Court. Concepts like “commerce” and “general welfare” have been perverted by the courts over the last 100 years to allow the government to exercise almost unlimited power.

      Short of a Constitutional amendment, there isn’t really a way to combat a Supreme Court ruling on a Constitutional matter.

      But we do have precedent for overturning SC decisions – the 11th amendment and the Civil War amendments.

    • The Constitution HAS the solution to the problem. It is called Article V. The founders put it in the Constitution for such a time as this. Therefore, we are following the Founders’ words.

    • WetlinaWoman

      The original understanding of the Constitution is, as you say, NOT the problem. But the Supreme Court routinely reinterprets and reinvents the document to the point that our pocket-sized edition has become close to 3,000 pages. That’s the version, online, that is cited today, not the original, short one. Therefore, we definitely need a convention for proposing amendments to the US Constitution that will clearly express what the Founders’ intents were. That’s easy enough to ascertain from their own writings and those of The Federalist Papers.

    • Michael Alexander

      @mickeywhite:disqus While it feels good to say that the federal government does not follow the Constitution, the federal government actually DOES adhere to virtually every AMENDMENT to the Constitution. Note that I said AMENDMENT, and that’s what makes the difference here.

      Historically on average, amendments to the Constitution have been followed very closely for about 100 years after they are ratified by the states and made part of the Supreme Law of the Land. That’s why we don’t have slavery, why presidents don’t run for third terms and why women voters now outnumber men in many elections. Some amendments have endured even longer.

      When an amendment has been debated, drafted, proposed and ratified by BOTH CHAMBERS of THREE-QUARTERS of the state legislatures, the federal government has little choice but to sit up, take notice and obey the law.

      Freedom of expression, religious liberty, the right to bear arms, the right to a jury trial, the right to privacy, freedom of association… all of these liberties we have enjoyed for almost 2½ centuries, and all were achieved by AMENDING the Constitution!

      Please… check our history… examine the facts for yourself. The best way to protect the Constitution is to amend it! Although our Constitution has stood the test of time, the Framers knew that it wasn’t perfect… that’s why they wrote Article V, the amendment process, into the original draft. They had the foresight and the wisdom to provide us a remedy… now all we need is the will, the faith, and the courage to use it.

      Be informed. Sign the petition. Get involved. #COSProject

    • Conservative one

      And how pray tell would you fix the problem if not by an Article V convention to write clarity into what Congress does? The problem is the vagueness they “interpret” into the words that are there. Plug the holes in their “interpretation” and you begin to solve the problem. That is what an Article V convention can do. State clearly and unequivocally what Congress can and cannot make law on.

  • ClymerCliff

    Fantastic article!!!! Maybe best ever written by 3rd party. Washington DC will never fix itself. The Founders left We the People thru our state legislature the only Constitutional way to rein in Federal Overreach. 12 states on board now in 4 years (AK, AL, AZ, FL, GA, IN, MO, ND, OK, TN, TX). 22 more needed. Check out how you can help at the Convention of States website.

    • Michael Alexander

      Yes! It’s time to once and for all reduce the size, scope and jurisdiction of our over-reaching federal government. The ONLY way to accomplish that is by constitutional amendment. Article V of the Constitution gives STATES the power to propose amendments to the Constitution whenever 2/3 of the states decide that Congress has either refused or failed to act.

      When, in short, the federal government has run amuck, and shows more concern for its policies than its consequences, is it not time to at least try an Article V convention?

      All things considered, doesn’t the ominous size and scope of the federal government suggest that it’s more dangerous NOT to attempt an Article V convention? Just as the Second Amendment secures the right of the individual to defend himself against an intruder, so does Article V secure the right of society to defend itself against an intrusive government.

      Be informed. Get involved. Sign this petition ==> #COSProject

  • Jacquie Peterson

    Convention of States is the exact WAY to bring the power back to the States to decide…that is the question…WHO should decide? Washington DC or the We The People. Check it out and join, let’s bring liberty home:

  • Brent Dunklau

    This may be THE most thorough and correct (both legally and historically) articles I have ever read on this topic.

    And I’ve read a lot of them.

    • Gary Lyons

      Agreed. Very well researched and written.

  • WetlinaWoman

    “The change that needs to happen could be accomplished by popular unrest generated by community organizers, by civil war and secession, or it could be accomplished peacefully by following an orderly, constitutionally prescribed process.”

    These are our choices. To insist that we not use the least disruptive among them, for fear of what might ensue, leaves us only the recourse of continuing as we are towards mutating America, or civil war with secession as well. All things considered, convening a meeting per our inspired US Constitution and its Founders’ provisions within Article V is the most reasonable among them all.

    If there’s even the remotest possibility of sabotage for a Constitutional meeting of state commissioners, fear mongers must milk it and insist we’re better off to keep on the path of doing nothing different than the insane things we’ve done, letting the federal government in all its capacities get ever larger and more tyrannical. The devil you know vs. the devil you don’t. We do know where we are and where we’re headed if we continue without change. The original Constitution and its baseline principles from the Declaration of Independence are being shredded to extinction. Working to reestablish its originalist intents with the means given within it–Article V–is considered too much a slippery slope to dare to try. I believe we will be successful if we do everything good in our power as well as invoke Divine help once more as the Founders did when against all odds they beat the best army and navy in the world. If we don’t even attempt to use the Founders’ remedy, we deserve the results of our stupidity for failing to act when we could have won.

  • Mary Ellen

    I know I commented on this article but my post seems to have disappeared. Did anyone see it?

  • An Article V Con Con Is A False Solution!
    The Constitution is merely an instruction manual for our civil servants.
    The Constitution is not the problem; it is not broken, it means what it says, its instructions are plain and clear. And except for rolling back the 16th and 17th amendments to their original construction and closing the anchor baby loophole, it does not need fixed, changed or rewritten.
    The Problem: Disobedient civil servants. Our civil servants (both federal and state) are willingly disobeying the Constitution’s clear and plain instructions without fear of consequences. And others follow in lockstep primarily due to ignorance, apathy, greed and/or coercion.
    The False Solution: Adding more words to the Constitution will never cause our civil servants to better obey its clear and plain instructions.
    Adding more instructions to the Constitution will never fix the civil servant problem of refusing to obey it. Merely adding more instructions will never accomplish what our civil servants have already shown they are unwilling to uphold or enforce.
    The Only Real Solution: Force obedience; by fear of consequences, by always holding our civil servants accountable, by always imposing consequences upon those who disobey the Constitution’s clear and plain instructions.
    This is the only way we will ever be able to get this usurpation problem under control.

    To change the Constitution with additional language for the erroneous reasoning that “it will stop our civil servants from usurping the already clearly existing boundaries” is nonsensical.

    More words will never accomplish what a weak-kneed State is already unwilling to uphold or enforce. The states simply need to get a backbone and rise up off their knees and exercise their sovereign right and duty to resist the usurpation of the plain and clear instructions given in the Constitution.

    And the first step States need to take is to cut the purse strings that bind them as servants to the unconstitutional bidding’s of the U.S. government. They need to stop the unconstitutional taking of any and all federal monies.

  • Believing that a “New and Improved” Constitution will cause usurpers to stop their usurpation is just as ludicrous as believing that writing a “New and Improved” law will finally stop thieves from stealing.

    Enforcement (i.e. raw force) is the only real solution against miscreants, bullies and tyrants. Always has been and always will be.

    • WetlinaWoman

      And who do you propose is legally responsible to make use of “raw force”? How do you advise it begin? Civil war?

      • You ask, “And who do you propose is legally responsible to make use of “raw force”?”

        Any and all honorable people who have the rightful authority to do so. This includes the enforcement agencies of the legislative, executive and judicial branches as well as the most potent raw force of pressure; “We the People.” The States also would be a most logical solution through resistance against the federal governments unconstitutional dictates and by stopping their unconstitutional taking of federal money. But the states are just as complicit and just as guilty of usurping the Constitution as the federal government is; they don’t want to give up the federal money that is bending their knee to servitude.

        “God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to guard and defend it.” — Daniel Webster

        “The Founding Fathers understood that only by making government the servant, not the master, only by positing sovereignty in the people and not the state can we hope to protect freedom.” — Ronald Reagan

        The raw force of 20 million or so Christian men and women standing up for our nations Christian identity, even our nation’s self-same foundational principals enshrined in the Declaration, by relentlessly marching upon the halls of Congress and State legislators demanding that justice be served would certainly do the job.

        The elites, bankers, globalists, and the deep state certainly will not go without a fight. So we must fight and apply pressure like never before upon our Representatives if we ever hope, as a sovereign nation, to get out from under this globalist cloud of usurpers and restore our Constitutional Republic to its preeminent purpose of securing our individual God endowed sovereign rights and liberties from miscreants, bullies and tyrants

        They weaseled their way into our political system through pressures of bribes, threats, back scratching and disinformation and as a result have essentially neutered our political system from holding anyone accountable. And the only way we will ever get them out is by countering their pressures against our Representatives and by pressing back upon our Representatives with an unmatched unified force demanding that a clear cut plan to implement a sure-fire accountability mechanism similar to what I propose be put in place.

        Personally, I don’t think we will ever be able to prevent America from becoming subject to the coming one world government. For it is written.

        And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. Revelation 13:7

        But I believe that we can position ourselves as a nation to minimize the horror of that coming day against ourselves and our posterity, but only if we force our hand against this evil that permeates our political system and then put just, righteous and genuinely honorable men back into our nations representative offices for the purpose of restoring our Constitutional Republic as written.

        But again it is going to take a relentless number of people in force never before seen. And most importantly it will be necessary for one individual, a point man, willing to stand up and take the charge, in order to encourage all others to rally behind the cause.

        Remember, the key power these people have is money (bribes), threats (through fear of loss) and lies (deceiving the people at large). But the d i e hards and the puppet masters are a minority, 2-3% at most. And herein lies their weakness, they are afraid of people who they cannot control. If they lose their control of key offices and representatives they lose everything. And if a large percentage of people at large press their Representatives then the elites automatically lose their control. It doesn’t even have to be a majority of people at large. For the majority at large will always follow whoever is making the most noise due to perception. And this will cause the majority of our representatives to buckle to the demands of justice for fear of losing their livelihood.

        “It does not take a majority to prevail but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” – Samuel Adams

        Regarding it coming down to taking up arms. If that were to happen, without a clear predetermined solution that all is willing to rally around (such as what I propose), no matter which side came out on top, our Republic would be lost due to the chaos that would certainly ensue afterwards. Primarily for lack of a unified direction already predetermined before the toppling takes place and secondly for lack of leadership due to the power voids that it will certainly create.

        It’s only when enough people wake up to the truth of what it means to be a true American that we will ever be able to purge the United States of its usurpers.

        Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.” — George Washington’s Farewell Address (1796)

        In other words George Washington is basically stating…
        Do not let any one claim to be a true American if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics.

  • “If the people in power are not upholding the constitution now what would they do if given the power to change it?”

    • WetlinaWoman

      With properly written amendments, we can move the country to the point where our government would be in substantial compliance with the Constitution as written–the pocket-size edition–rather than as interpreted by the Supreme Court–the nearly 3000-page version. This can be done by proper limitations on the power of the federal judiciary as well as a new methodology of appointing justices. Moreover, replacing broadly worded phrases like “the General Welfare Clause” with precise language that puts clear and proper limits on such powers will make a difference.

      • We already have all of the proper limitations in place on all civil servants, it is called the Constitution of the united States. And its language is plain and clear. Otherwise you wouldn’t have a clue that SCOTUS is misinterpreting it.

        It is ludicrous to believe that a “New and Improved” Constitution will somehow magically cause usurpers to stop usurping it. Enforcement is the only answer. We must hold all usurpers accountable and excrete them from our political system for being the excrement that they are.

        Our Constitution is for the preeminent and core purpose of securing our inherent, self-evident, natural, God endowed, individual, sovereign rights and liberties from miscreants, bullies and tyrants. And even as a firewall is solely for the purpose of securing the general welfare (well being) of web users from bad actors, so is the sole overriding purpose of all that government does; to secure our rights and liberties from bad actors.

        America’s Creed and Purpose:
        “When… it becomes necessary for… people… to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… We, therefore, …appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, …solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; … and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” — Declaration of Independence

  • It is interesting to note the fact that the States already once before pushed for a Con-Con until Congress finally capitulated and gave them what they wanted… the 17th amendment. The idea to neuter State suffrage first started around 1830. That certainly went well now didn’t it? Now they’re back at it again, to further tear down the structure of our Republic. Last time it was under a false pretense to end corruption of State legislators but now it’s under a false pretense to regain an imaginary lost power to end federal corruption. Yeah right! The enemy never sleeps! Proverbs 4:13-19

    This current Con Con push is just more of the same rhetoric and tripe aimed at the ill informed to snatch up more useful idiots to carry out the enemies bidding to destroy our constitutional Republic. The blind leading the blind. We don’t need anymore changes to the Constitution, we just need it enforced, as written, in accordance with America’s creed and our government’s foundational and preeminent purpose… i.e. to secure our inherent, self-evident, natural, unalienable, God endowed, individual, sovereign rights and liberties from tyrants and bullies.

    The States already have all the power they need to enforce against federal usurpation but they wont because corruption is running rampant within their ranks as well. The only change we need is just and righteous men back at the helm and term limits will not any better effect that result anymore than our ability to vote them out of office. After all we are the idiots who voted them in. When garbage is elected in, one can only expect for garbage to come out, regardless of term limits.

    America’s Creed and Purpose:
    “When… it becomes necessary for… people… to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… We, therefore, …appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, …solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; … and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” — Declaration of Independence

  • A Constitutional Convention would be a grave mistake and lead further to the erosion of our intrinsic sovereign rights and the demise of our Republic. It would be a crap shoot with the odds being against any truly good thing coming out of it given our current divisive nation along with the fact that there are currently innumerable people operating within our political system who are either ignorant of or just plain enemies of the founding principles and values of the United States of America. Any attempt to forge a “NEW And IMPROVED” Constitution from a spiritually bereft people is a recipe for disaster. Don’t Mess With Our Constitution.

    • WetlinaWoman

      Enforcement is not our purveyance; we have no power to force compliance with the Constitution as you propose, only the means–the vote–to send representatives to do their jobs in the first place. The ones we send, who then hold that power, aren’t exercising it properly. We back home can’t force them to do much of anything beyond that point except complain. They’re very good at avoiding and ignoring us; they got what they wanted and that’s all that matters to them.

      Our part is to use the Founders’ Article V 2nd means of amending the Constitution to propose the means to rein in the federal government, impose fiscal responsibility, and impose term limits on all members of Congress and other federal officials.

      • “We the People” as sovereigns over our creation (the government) have all the power and rights we need to enforce; in more ways then one.

  • Powerful and accurate. I do not want Washington deciding for NC. Article Five of the United States Constitution describes the process by which the Constitution may be altered. Altering the Constitution consists of proposing an amendment or amendments and subsequent ratification. And it takes 38 states to ratify.
    There are more controls over the convention than the runaway Congress.
    When the states offer 34 applications on any one subject,
    the convention is limited to the scope of those applications.When Congress exercises its mandatory duty to call the convention after having received 34 applications on
    one subject it follows those applications and specifies the scope of the
    convention. The convention cannot go beyond that. Please join us.

  • Gary Lyons

    Matthew, this is a fantastic article! Thank you so much.

  • kuhnkat

    Our rulers have been progressively twisting and redefining the Constitution for over a hundred years. What makes you think that some new verbiage in the Constitution can magically change this?!?!?!

  • Having an Article V Constitutional Convention is not what our Founding Fathers wanted. Northern delegates to our first Constitutional Convention voted for Article V at Southern delegates insistence in hopes to appease Southern delegates into approving the final draft of the Constitution. They didn’t.

    During the first Convention there were some calls to adjourn and reorganize into a second Constitutional Convention. James Madison strenuously objected and said so in a letter to George Lee Turberville where he 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.”

    Instead Madison devised 12 proposed amendments to be introduced by the other Article V means, that is, through the safe mode of amending the Constitution, through Congress.

    10 amendments made it through Congress. They were ratified by the required ¾ of the states. They are known as the Bill of Rights.

    Each of the other 17 amendments to the Constitution have been introduced through Congress.

    Of interesting note: What the wrongly named Convention of States (COS) will never tell you is that the first two petitions to Congress calling for an Article V Constitutional Convention were for a general convention with no proposed amendments subject language. Not the specifically worded subject matter proposed amendments-convention call that the Conference of States organization tried to push through in the 1980s, or the general subject matter proposed amendments-convention call being pushed through the States by COS now. After the first two, it was a long 42 years before another state sponsored proposed convention call was introduced. History proves that we should listen to the States in 1898 that proposed the first two calls for an Article V Constitutional Convention because they were closest to and more knowledgeable about the original Founding era intent.

    COS’ official position is they’re not sure if general subject matter proposed amendments will stand up to Constitutional muster or legal challenge. But their subterfuge is: They’re hoping to pull the wool over the eyes of enough state legislators and enough Citizens long enough to get us into a dreadful convention.

    Oppose any Article V Constitutional Convention calls.

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  • Dick Coe

    This is a Great Article for NEW GRASS ROOT MEMBERS to read. DC will not EVER
    CHANGE by its’ self, it’s up to WE THE PEOPLE to do it. Our FOUNDING FATHERS gave WE THE PEOPLE a tool to accomplish this. It’s called “ARTICLE V” , the way to STOP the overreach of the FEDs. Everyday their decisions effect MILLIONS of Lives’ in America. Many of those decisions decide how WE THE PEOPLE go about our Daily Lives’. WE NEED TO TAKE BACK THAT POWER , and ARTICLE V is the ONLY WAY TO DO IT.