Sowing The Wind- Part VII

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Ohio Con Con Call

Public Policy RadarRecently this author was interviewed by Dr. Laurie Roth on her nationally syndicated radio talk show. Dr. Roth was kind enough to interview me for the entire second hour of her three hour daily broadcast on the subject of the current attempts by several states to pass resolutions calling for a Constitutional Convention (Con Con). That interview can be heard here.

Dr. Roth does an excellent job of asking the questions that get at the core of the problem and why all Christian constitutionalists should be united in opposing new calls in their state legislatures that haven’t yet moved for one and working to get recission resolutions passed in those that have passed one in the last 30 years or so. Yes, that’s 30 years, not days or even months.That’s how old some of these so-called “active” Con Con calls are.

If you don’t understand why a Con Con call is such a big deal, then you might take about an hour and listen to this broadcast. And you might take some time and listen to Dr. Roth’s program. It available by audio streaming week nights from 6-9 PM Eastern Time here.

Please keep in mind that we have achieved only a temporary victory over an Ohio Con Con call. The sponsors in each house of the Ohio legislature have pledged to re-introduce the resolutions in the new sessions which are convened early in the new year. We at the Institute For Principled Policy and a network of other concerned groups across the political spectrum are pledged to keep you informed to what action is needed to stop these calls for a Con Con!

Sowing The Wind- Part VI

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Ohio Con Con Call

Public Policy RadarThe amount of media attention that is being generated in response to the Ohio Legislature’s attempt to  petition Congress to call a Constitutional Convention (Con Con) is an excellent indicator of a phenomena first described by Mark Twain when he said “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Since this last general election the liberal wing of the Republican party, national and local party party leadership  and their allies in the media have been very busy declaring the conservative movement as an irrelevant anachronism which needs to be jettisoned immediately in order that the Republican “tent” be made ever larger. In other words it only needs to become more Democrat to see election success.

Prototypical is Ohio Republican vice-chairman Kevin DeWine’s announcement of the irrelevance and impending abandonment of “conservatives” who hold to their conservatism consistently, i.e. are both true fiscal and social conservatives.  Just so there can be no mistaking what he meant by it, DeWine says it not just once but twice. Note that DeWine attempts to redefine what “conservatism” is “really” composed of.  DeWine’s modern “conservatism” consists of “fiscal conservatism” which Republicans currently define as government-business partnerships (corporate welfare) minus a “distracting fixation on social issues.”

Part of the question being dealt with here is which vision of conservatism Ohio’s Christian conservative leadership will align themselves with. Will they adopt a comprehensive biblical model encompassing all facets of life (including DeWine’s concerns with “ethics”) or will they show themselves to be more interested in making friends with Republican leadership and give leaders like DeWine and the “big tent” philosophy a pass? See DeWine’s statements for yourself in the video below. Pay close attention at the 0:47 and 2:15 marks of the video.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zzF8cCqWQI[/youtube]

So what does all of this have to do with a Constitutional Convention (Con Con) call resolution in the Ohio legislature? Well, it has to do with the political tin ear of Ohio’s conservative legislative leadership. This author was told by legislators connected to the Con Con call that one of the reasons that the resolution was done was to “unite the conservative base.” And so the legislators got their wish. Can anyone deny that conservatives in both Ohio and around the country are now united? Of course, what we are united in is our opposition to calling a Constitutional Convention. And yet the House sponsor has indicated that he intends to re-introduce the Con Con call resolution as soon as the new session starts in January, should it fail to pass this session.

Based on conversations with the sponsor, he will not be persuaded of the error of the idea that a “more strongly worded” resolution will “fix this thing” and satisfy all parties.  He appears to believe that the opposition is incapable of “properly interpreting” the facts of history, unlike the groups that have his and other legislators’ ear like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which appears to be where the model for the Con Con resolution came from.  Don’t bother trying to find the info at ALEC’s website. It’s hidden from public eyes behind a $7000 minimum “public sector” membership wall.

All of this may show that, contrary to what they may say, the Republican “conservatives” actually believe the party leadership propaganda that we aren’t very bright and think we really have no lasting cohesion. So far the response from conservative and other groups has testified to the opposite.

As the majority of those who testified at the Ohio House Judiciary Committee stipulated, a balanced budget is a noble desire. It is also a biblical conservative principle to operate within your economic means. A balanced budget amendment is not where the problem lies. The problem is with a Con Con call to get it.

The institute For Principled Policy is currently researching a position paper explaining why the “limited” Con Con call that these well-intentioned representatives from Ohio and several other states are trying to make is an oxymoron. There simply is no such thing as a “limited” Con Con.

By historical precedent, once constituted a Con Con is a super-legislative body with no responsibility to the bodies calling it or the bodies selecting delegates to it and the authority to completely re-write the existing Constitution, including the ratification procedures that Con Con advocates are attempting to hide behind as a protective screen. That defense didn’t work in 1787-89 and it won’t work with any new constitution. The Constitution of 1789 was ratified using a self-contained ratification procedure. The ratification procedure contained in the Articles of Confederation, which required unanimous consent, was ignored. Thus, Article V of the Constitution was recognized as being in effect before it became the supreme law of the land.

Many, many are the constitutional experts who will testify to the truth of the statement made above. Thanks to Coach David Daubenmire who recently had constitutional scholar Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr. on his Pass The Salt radio program (can be heard Saturday mornings 9:00-11:00 AM on WLRY). We have run the entire interview because Dr. Vieira gives such a potent presentation on the Constitution, especially constitutional money:  A substance that would have kept us from the current economic precipice and therefore kept us from the need for a balanced budget amendment.

Dr. Vieira is a constitutional attorney in private practice, a regular contributor to News With Views, a respected author of such books as How To Dethrone The Imperial Judiciary, and PIeces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and the Disabilities of the United States Constitution,  is Director of the National Alliance For Constitutional Money and has been published on constitutional law in publications such as Wake Forest Law Review, South Carolina Law Review, DePaul Law Review and other publications.  Dr. Vieira received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard, along with graduating cum laude from the Harvard School of Law in 1973.

This author had the privilege of being invited to ask Dr. Vieira a question on this program. You can hear my question regarding a Con Con at about the 37:09 mark and hear what he thinks of the idea in the current political climate for yourself. For instance. he thinks that “…calling the proposal for a Con Con an unmitigated disaster is an understatement…”

“Thank you” to both Coach Dave Daubenmire (another regular News With Views contributor) for permission to post this interview and his help in mobilizing opposition to the Con Con call and to Jim Harrison of the Minutemen United for both getting this interview information to us for hosting preparation and for alerting the Minutemen United to the situation and keeping them apprised of the details and engaged in the process.

As badly as some behind this effort would like to paint the opponents as isolated ideological extremists, an examination of exactly who is in opposition paints another picture.  Several other groups, both prominent and small, from all over the conservative spectrum (yes, that’s right, we are not monolithic despite what the news media would have everyone believe) and all over the country are just as opposed to a Con Con as the Institute.

For instance, the necessarily rather hastily constructed coalition has had substantial support from groups like Tom Deweese and the American Policy Center and Phyllis Schlafly and Eagle Forum. Both Tom and Phyllis have been doing the conservative talk show circuit in opposition to a Con Con. Brannon Howse of the Christian Worldview Network is good example. You can hear his program with Tom and Phyllis here. Tom and Phyllis are also writing on the Con Con.

Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America (GOA) understands what a Con Con means to the 2nd amendment and has brought GOA into the coalition of groups that is involved. 2008 Constitution Party presidential candidate Pastor Chuck Baldwin has come out in opposition to a Con Con as he has stated in this article.

Ron Paul’s Campaign For Liberty and the John Birch Society, which has fought several Con Con calls through the years, sometimes completely alone have lent their support andcontacted many.

The Ron Paul coalition, which knows something about the tactics that Republicans engage in when they want to stifle anything that looks like deviation from the party line and represented in Ohio by the Ohio Freedom Alliance, was pivotal in alerting members and getting people out to testify at the Judicary Committee hearing. They were also key players in getting the committee to allow public testimony.

Ohio Round Table has been involved in the effort to stop the Con Con as have the Ohio groups CHESCA, the Christian Home Educators Stark County Association who are fully cognizant of what a Con Con could easily mean to home educators, several Ohio county Right To Life groups, the Ohio Eagle Forum, We Are Change Ohio, The Ohio Libertarian Party, The Constitution Party of Ohio and others we may not yet have knowledge of.

Alternative news outlets are now involved as well. Both World Net Daily and News With Views have brought the Con Con call news the the world with stories in their outlets. A second story on Con Con calls in other states has just been published in World Net Daily and another constitutional scholar has checked into the debate.

Dr. John Eidsmoe of the Foundation for Moral Law says that Tom DeWeese’s analysis of the state resolutions possibly being non-rescindable may have merit. Article V of the Constitution is written in a manner leaving much room for interpretive freedom. But, he says, rescissions should be performed anyway and presumably be prepared to fight it out in federal courts.

Dr. Eidsmoe is familiar to anyone who has taken the Institute On The Constitution’s (IOTC) 12 week course on the Constitution as the constitutional expert who lectures on the classes videos. Michael Peroutka and Pastor David Whitney of IOTC and John Lofton of The American View radio show (heard Saturday mornings at 11:00 AM on WLRY and daily at 11:00 AM on WTHU) have also chimed in in opposition to the Con Con call.

Though their goals and approaches to problems can be very different if not sometimes in conflict, each understands what a Con Con could easily mean: an end to our current system of government and its replacement with who knows what. Our Senators and Representatives in the Ohio Legislature need to grasp that and therefore we need to keep reminding them to not only not vote on HJR 8 and SJR 9 but to withdraw them so that there can be no last minute surprise votes. After all, the original attempt looked very much an effort to try and sneak these resolutions through with no opposition from concerned citizen’s groups like those listed above.

Sowing The Wind- Part V

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Ohio Con Con Call

Public Policy RadarThe following was testimony offered before the Ohio House Judiciary Committee by Robert Owens, an attorney from Delaware, Ohio and a recent independent candidate for Ohio Attorney General.

I want to thank Chairman Blessing and the members of the committee for allowing me to speak today. My name is Robert Owens, I am a lawyer from Delaware, Ohio and I am an active member and leader in a number of Christian conservative organizations that embrace the time tested and proven concepts of limited constitutional government, free enterprise and individual liberty bestowed upon us by our creator.  I urge you to vote no on HJR 8.

Here are some of the possible results of a “run away” article 5 convention as described of by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger:

1.      Total civilian disarmament.

2.      Socialization of industry.

3.      Confiscation of private property.

4.      Torture of citizens.

5.      Suppression of the Press and of Religion

If you started this day unaware of the reasons and legal arguments of a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that talks of a “run away” convention and,

If you started this day unaware that a totally different ratification process than what you might expect is perfectly lawful and consistent with legal precedent, and

If you started this day unaware that if a article 5 convention is called in the next two years, Nancy Pelosi and her team would get to choose how delegates are selected, how they are paid, where the convention would be held and if the convention were to be held in public or in secret. And,

If you started today unaware that Ohio would be the 33rd state in the history of the republic to call for the convention and that 34 is the magic number to forcibly trigger Congress to call the convention. Then caution is urged.

If any or all of these facts were unknown to you, please do not risk giving Congress a blank check without doing all the research.  We are talking about possible political suicide to the conservative movement.  This move must be carefully examined, not hurried through a December session without scrutiny.

One point of irony should not be missed in this process.  If Congress actually followed the Constitution, we would have a balanced budget and there would be no need for this committee to consider this resolution.  What makes anyone think Congress would be limited by new rules if it does not follow the existing ones?

The proposed convention could have devastating effects upon our American tradition of being a free people.  This tradition has made us the most prosperous nation and the most charitable nation in the history of the world.

Robert’s wife Teri also testified. Here are her remarks to the committee.

Chairman Blessing and members of the House Judiciary Committee, thank you for the opportunity to provide opposing testimony on House Joint Resolution No. 8. My name is Teri Owens and I am from Delaware, Ohio.

This is my first time testifying in a legislative committee. I don’t want to waste precious time explaining who I am because my background, ethnicity, race, religion or vocation does not matter to this issue. I speak as a citizen of Ohio, who – no matter what special interest categories I might fit into – stands to be irreparably harmed by the ramifications of calling an Article V convention. The quickness and quietness with which this legislation emerged and is moving is especially troubling because of this.

With due respect to the Sponsor, Representative Huffman, for those who stand in opposition to calling an Article V Constitutional Convention, it is not about fear, but rather wisdom.

The consensus among jurists and Constitutional scholars is that once a Constitutional Convention is called in accordance with article V, state legislatures have no authority in the method of selecting delegates and no authority to limit the scope or outcome of the convention. The only precedent for this in our nation’s history was the first Constitutional Convention, which was called to amend the Articles of Confederation. Indeed this became a runaway convention that emerged not with an amendment, but a brand new form of government and Constitution which only required 9 of the 13 states to ratify in nominating conventions rather than the consent of all state legislatures per the Articles of Confederation.

By its very nature, a Constitutional convention creates a sovereign representative body of the people and no limitation of the state legislatures or congress can restrain the delegates.

Would a Constitutional Convention become another runaway jeopardizing the political protection of the God-given rights of Ohio citizens? Is it wise to take that risk in today’s divided political climate?

Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg summed up the answer this way: “if the question is whether a runaway convention is assured, the answer is no, but if the question is whether it is a real and serious possibility, the answer is yes. In our history we have only one experience with a Constitutional Convention, and while the end result was good, the convention itself was a definite runaway.”

In addition to the dangers of a con-con, the most glaring problem with HJR 8 and its companion bill SJR 9 is that a Constitutional Convention is not even needed to address the problem cited. Applications for a Convention should only be used if a Legislature believes that the present Constitution is structurally flawed and in need of repair. An unbalanced federal budget is not the result of a “Constitutional flaw,” rather it is the result of a Congress which consistently ignores the Constitutional limitations upon its spending of federal funds.

I have emailed to all of you links to a 4 part video series called Beware: Article V which was created by legislators to help you take a closer look at the serious implications of an Article V Constitutional Convention. All four parts can be viewed at principledpolicy.com.

Chairman Blessing and members of the committee, I strongly urge you to vote against sending this bill to a floor vote. This issues comes down to whether you believe the possibility of obtaining a balanced budget amendment is worth the risk that our entire ststem of government could be changed. Chairman Blessing I know that you are a 20 year champion of a Con-Con and I especially urge you to allow your fellow legislators more time to discern the wisdom of this resolution before they are forced to vote on it.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this important matter.

Powerful Forces Now Calling for a Constitutional Convention

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Ohio Con Con Call

April 27, 2010

By Tom DeWeese

In December, 2008, my American Policy Center (APC) led a fight to stop Ohio from becoming the 33rd state to call for a Constitutional Convention (Con Con) (The Institute For Principled Policy was the first to discover the joint resolution calling for the Con Con and alerted other allied groups including APC- ed). In the 1980’s 32 other states had passed Con Con resolutions for the specific purpose of passing a balanced budget amendment. Had that resolution passed the Ohio legislature, we would have been just one state away from such an event. We argued then that one cannot call a Con Con to discuss just one issue. Once a Con Con is in place, there is no controlling the agenda.

We fought to stop the Con Con because of fear. Today there is massive ignorance among the American people about the Constitution. Worse, there are powerful forces who consider that document to be antiquated and a hindrance to their vision of an all powerful government. These things, and more, make today the worst possible time in our nation’s history to mess with the greatest governing document of all time.

We stopped the effort in 2008, but the battle is on again as an even more determined plan is under way to gather support from the nation’s governors and state legislatures to pass Con Con resolutions. Again, this is not the work of wild-eyed leftists intending to gut the Bill of Rights. This is an effort by conservative legislators who are alarmed by the growing power of government.

The new plan making its rounds in state capitals is much more ambitious than the 2008 Ohio resolution to simply discuss a balanced budget. Now an entire package of ten amendments to the Constitution is being proposed and promoted to state legislatures through a powerful and well funded campaign.

The main groups pushing for a Con Con are the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative association of state legislators; and a new group calling itself the 10 Amendments for Freedom, Inc, chaired by William Fruth, President of POLICOM Corporation, which provides independent economics research

While ALEC is working behind the scenes to build support for a Con Con among state legislators, Fruth and his 10 Amendments for Freedom group has moved into the public eye to sell the Con Con idea to mainstream America. In March, Fruth kicked off his campaign by mailing out a slick, expensive package to conservative leaders and to over 7,000 state legislators. The package contained a book written by Fruth entitled “10 Amendments for Freedom.”

In the book, Fruth lays out an argument for the need for, not just a balanced budget amendment, but a total package of 10 Amendments to the Constitution including, the balanced budget; repay the national debt in 50 years; government transparency; line item veto; term limits for Congress; control illegal immigration; English-speaking nation; no foreign law shall bind us; government restraint (preventing the Federal Government from growth beyond constitutional powers; and finally, an amendment declaring “in God we trust.” Of course, there is no doubt that these amendments have great appeal for most conservatives, answering their growing frustration and fear of government expansion.

Arguing that Congress “will not likely take any action to cause the 10 Amendments for Freedom to become law of the land,” Fruth calls for all ten amendments to be packaged by state legislatures to be passed in a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention. His package would include specific instructions to Congress as to how the delegates would be selected and outlining rules that would be enforced to assure only the ten amendments would be voted on.

Arguing the advantages of the Con Con, Fruth says, “Can you imagine the excitement in the nation leading up to the Convention? Schools will have to dust off history books which teach how our nation was founded. Many people for the first time will read the Constitution. The issue will be discussed at length, exposing what happened to our country over the years.”

Fruth then scoffs at our fears of a Con Con and efforts to stop it. He says, “Simply, it is not reasonable to assume there can be enough delegates sent to a convention who will propose amendments which ‘repeal the Bill of Rights’ or ‘legalize socialism.’ Even if they did, the amendments would never be ratified,” concludes Fruth.

Anticipating opposition to his scheme for a Con Con, Fruth says that those who opposed the effort in the 1980’s, to call for a Con Con for a balanced budget amendment, told the American people that the delegates at the convention can “change the Constitution any way they want.” Argues Fruth, “We know that is not true.”  He says, “it is both irresponsible and disingenuous for anyone to publicly say that the convention can change the Constitution.” And he says, “any recommended changes must be approved by three-fourths of the states.”

These are the arguments now being presented to every single state legislator and Governor in the nation as Fruth and ALEC put on a full-court-press to call for a Constitutional Convention. While the intention may be an honest desire to reign in the power of government, the fact remains that every one of these arguments for a Con Con is wrong.

The fact is, once 34 states petition Congress to convene a Constitutional Convention, the matter is completely out of the States’ hands. There is absolutely no ability to control what the delegates do in the convention. Attempting to instruct delegates to discuss only a specific issue like a balanced budget – or the whole package offered by the 10 Amendments for Freedom group — is absolutely impossible. Instead, once the convention starts, the delegates become super delegates which can take any action they desire concerning the Constitution. In short, at the convention the Constitution can be literally put on an operating table and the delegates can take a “scalpel” (pen) to it and change any section or even the entire document if they desire.

What proof do I offer? Here are the exact words of Article V of the Constitution: “…on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, (Congress) shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which…shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States.”

Article V gives absolutely no guidelines as to how it will be run, how delegates can be selected and who can do the selecting. Once the 34 states make the request, the entire matter is in the hands of Congress to decide. It does not matter if the states passed resolutions as Fruth proposes, containing absolute guidelines for delegate selection. The Constitution provides no rules – it is up to Congress to decide how delegates are selected and what qualifications they will have. The guidelines proposed by Fruth carry absolutely no weight in the final process – even if every state passes the exact same resolution including those rules. Again, Article V simply says that when 34 states have called for a Con Con the Congress “shall call a Convention…” Period.

And there is more legal proof in support of the argument that delegates are not bound by any instructions or resolutions from the states.

First, of course, is the famous letter written by former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger to Phyllis Schlafly, President of Eagle Forum. In the letter Burger writes, “…there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the convention would obey. After a convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the convention if we don’t like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the confederated Congress…

And there is more legal documentation proving that Congress or the states can control the agenda of a Con Con. Corpus Jurus Secundum is a compilation of State Supreme Court findings. The following is the collection of findings regarding the unlimited power of the delegates attending a Con Con. (From Corpus Jurus Secundum 16 C.J.S. 9) “The members of a Constitutional Convention are the direct representatives of the people (1) and, as such, they may exercise all sovereign powers that are vesting in the people of the state. (2) They derive their powers, not from the legislature, but from the people: (3) And, hence, their power may not in any respect be limited or restrained by the legislature. Under this view, it is a Legislative Body of the Highest Order (4) and may not only frame, but may also enact and promulgate, Constitution. (5)” The footnote numbers after the citation quoted reference the particular cases from which the citations were made. (1) Mississippi (1892) Sproule v Fredericks (11 So. 472); (2) Iowa (1883) Koehler v Hill (14N.W. 738); (3) West Virginia (1873) Loomis v Jackson (6 W. Va. 613); (4) Oklahoma (1907) Frantz v Autry (91 p. 193); (5) Texas (1912) Cox v Robison (150 S.W. 1149).

Clearly, the position put forth by Fruth, and ALEC, that state legislatures can pass a resolution dictating the rules of the Con Con is simply wrong.

Delegate selection is another dangerous trap waiting to spring. Again, Article V provides no guidelines. The process is left for Congress to decide. That means the current Congress could control the entire delegate selection. Under the rules that Congress could set, States may not even be represented. If the states are allowed to choose delegates, then what would be the method? Again, Congress will decide. Will the governor or the state legislature appoint delegates? Or could it be a bicameral panel or blue ribbon commission?

Or could it be a plebiscite – a vote of the people? If so, then who would be eligible to vote? Would it be all eligible voters? Or taxpayers only? Or would we possibly, in the interest of “enfranchisement,” allow all citizens, and potentially foreign nationals (illegal immigrants) to vote for this “special election?” There are no guidelines and anything is possible.

And what would be the qualifications to be a delegate? Would it be exclusively lawyers? A mix of professionals? So-called “proportional representation” of all special interest groups – NGO’s? Will some be excluded because of “extreme” convictions? Of course, according to the Federal Department of Homeland Security, “extreme convictions” includes those who want to protect the Constitution. So, what will the criteria for eligible delegates be? All of these choices would be made by Congress – that same one now controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

But again, none of that will matter, according to those calling for the Con Con.  William Fruth argues that no matter what such a convention does, it still must be ratified by two-thirds of the states, making it very difficult to do bad things against the will of the people. A history lesson is in order.

There has been only one Constitutional Convention in the history of the nation – that was in 1787. At the time, the nation was held together by the Articles of Confederation. The states were having a difficult time performing commerce among themselves. So it was decided to hold a Constitutional Convention to simply discuss how interstate commerce might be better organized. As the delegates were selected, some delegations were given specific orders by their states to discuss nothing else beyond the commerce issue.

However, as soon as the delegates arrived at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, they closed and locked the door, pulled down the shades and met in secret for a month. When they were finished, they had created an entirely new nation. We were very lucky that the convention was attended by men like Ben Franklin and James Madison. They produced the most magnificent document ever devised for the governance of man.

Today, we have Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. These are the people who will decide the rules for the convention, including delegate selection. Keep in mind, these are the people who just managed to ram through a health “reform” bill that the overwhelming majority of Americans opposed. These are the same people who managed to pass the bailout package opposed (according to polls) by almost 80% of the American people.

Do you trust them to follow the rules dictated by state legislatures? Do you think Pelosi and Reid would pass up an opportunity to set their own rules to guarantee a Constitution to their liking?  Do you think for one minute that they would take any steps to protect our Constitution? We live in an era when the Supreme Court looks to foreign laws to assure our own laws are worthy. We live in an era when many believe that the Constitution is out of date for our times. Barack Obama has expressed his belief that the U.S. Constitution needs to be interpreted through the lens of current events. Pelosi and her cohorts are itching to get their hands on the old parchment. And as history has shown, once a Con Con is called, delegates (picked though a Pelosi process) can do anything they want to it, including writing a completely new document.

And there is more. Concerning the argument that no matter what the delegates produce, the states still must ratify it – thus serving as a safeguard to tomfoolery, consider this fact: The Articles of Confederation required that any changes be ratified by 100% of the states. That was the document that was the law of the land – until something else was put into place. But, when the new Constitution was put to the states for a vote of ratification, suddenly they needed only two-thirds to approve it. Why? The fact is, Article V of the new Constitution was used – even before the Constitution which contained it was approved. Now, what do you think Reid and Pelosi and company would do with that precedent? What if the new document produced by the Con Con said ratification only required a vote of Congress – or some special commission? The precedent of 1787 says that could happen. So much for protection by the states.

And rather than an excitement in the nation with a rebirth of study of the Constitution, as Furth envisions, there would in fact be a long, hard, ugly and expensive battle over the process, guaranteed to leave the nation split along ideological lines. It’s not difficult to envision civil unrest, riots or even civil war as a result of any re-writing of the current Constitution.

These are the reasons why I, and many others around the nation, adamantly oppose a Constitutional Convention at this time. We fear a Con Con because the subject matter cannot be controlled. And if the worst happens, there is no guarantee that we can stop ratification. There has never been a worse time in the nation’s history to consider changing this grand document. The Con Con delegates could literally put the Constitution on an operating table and use their scalpels to slice it up, creating an entirely new form of government. That new document, as precedence has shown, could be enforced without ratification by the states. Remember, our current Constitution was not ratified by the rules set forth in the Articles of Confederation, but by an Article V that wasn’t yet law of the land. Now that the precedence is there, it can happen again. The Pelosi’s of the nation, proven to have the power and the will to twist any issue or initiative as they desire, are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of a Con Con.

No doubt there is great need for several of the amendments Fruth and his group propose. But he seems to ignore the fact that there is a powerful, organized opposition. Again, I call your attention to the continuing battle over health care. That’s child’s play compared to what will happen in a Con Con. Do Americans really want to risk that in these uncertain times? Every freedom-loving American must stand up against this misguided call for a Con Con. Tell your state legislators NO.

Reprinted by permission of Tom DeWeese

Tom DeWeese is the President of the American Policy Center and the Editor of The DeWeese Report. The DeWeese Report is now available online, for more information click here.

Sowing The Wind- Part IV

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Ohio Con Con Call

Public Policy RadarOn Wednesday Dec. 10, 2008 a hearing was held in the Ohio House Judiciary Committee. We will be printing some of the testimony which was presented in that hearing.

The following testimony is that of Chuck Michaelis who is Executive Director of Camp American and Vice-chairman of the Institute for Principled Policy.

Thank you, Chairman Blessing and to the House Judiciary Committee members for the opportunity to testify today on House Joint Resolution (HJR) 8.

Chairman Blessing, my name is Chuck Michaelis and I am Vice-chairman of the Institute For Principled Policy. We are an Ohio-based public policy think tank.

I come before you today to speak in opposition to HJR 8. The goals of HJR 8 are noble. In this age of financial instability, rapidly rising deficits and concern about when the effects of turning on the government printing presses to bail out mortgage lenders and large manufacturers will be felt in the form of inflation, it is imperative that government be required to do what I have to do at home- live within my means.

To that end, a properly constructed balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution could very well be the answer to the financial instability our nation is currently experiencing. And while I applaud the effort I must call the committee’s attention to the fact that the calling for a Constitutional Convention for that express purpose would be, in all likelihood the first step towards an unmitigated disaster.

Historically, HJR 8 looks a lot like the documents issued by the Continental Congress in February 1787 and the documents issued from the legislatures of several states appointing delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Congress passed a resolution, based on the findings of the Annapolis Convention, a meeting of the delegations of 5 states-Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York- to discuss defects in the Articles of Confederation, which called a convention of all 13 states, “…for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and 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. (emphasis added)” The Articles had an absolute requirement that any amendments to them had to be accepted unanimously. Note that Rhode Island sent no delegates to the Con Con of 1787.

Several states that did send delegates to the Con Con were worried about what a runaway convention could do to the Articles of Confederation and the sovereignty of their states. The documents they used to appoint delegates stringently required the delegates to discuss amendments to the Articles only and, especially in the case of Delaware, forbade them to discuss the elimination of the Articles and their replacement with a new constitution. Other states that restricted their delegations from participating in elimination of the Articles included Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.

And yet, after the first official act of the Con Con of 1787 was to agree to work in complete secret, the convention agreed to violate the instructions given by both the Continental Congress and their state legislatures. That’s the moment that the convention became a runaway. And how could it not have become one? Most Con Con historians admit that a number of delegates had the elimination of the Articles as their main objective all along. Among them Madison, Hamilton, Washington and Franklin.

When men of genius like this are appointed to an office that can only be described as super-legislative, operating in secret, ignoring legislative restrictions, responsible in reality to no one but himself can anyone be surprised when they do everything in their power to accomplish what they set out to do in the first place?

Former Chief Justice Warren Burger was asked what he thought of some of the Con Con movements of the mid- 1980’s. he said-

“I have also repeatedly given my opinion that there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the convention would obey. After a convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the convention if we don’t like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the confederation Congress “for the sole and express purpose. (emphasis added)”

Burger would be in a position to know the history, being both a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and head of a federal committee to celebrate the bicentennial of the ratification of the US constitution in 1989 due to his scholarship on the subject.

In light of Chief Justice Burger’s opinion, I would like to ask this committee to contemplate a number of questions before deciding to become one of the several states which have active Con Con resolutions.

In the event that 34 states ask for a Con Con and Congress is then forced to call an Article V Constitutional Convention what will Ohio do if Congress uses its authority to appoint all of the delegates? Article V contains no requirement that the states be represented in a Con Con.

If the states are allowed to choose their own delegates then who will choose them? The Governor? The House, The Senate? A bi-cameral panel? A blue-ribbon commission? A plebescite? If by plebescite then who picks the potential candidates? Who can vote? All eligible electors? Taxpayers only? Or would we possibly, in the interest of “enfranchisement”, allow all citizens and potentially foreign nationals the franchise for this special election?

What would the requirements be for a candidate for delegate? Exclusively lawyers? A mix of professionals? So-called “proportional representation” of all special interest groups? Will people of strong religious conviction be excluded? What will the exact criteria for eligibility be?

What will the deliberative body look like ideologically? Will there be representation for anarchists? Libertarians? Marxists? Constitutional Conservatives? How will you know how the body is constituted? How can that possibly be controlled or should it be?

Frankly, as a constituent of this body, I think I should have some knowledge about how my representatives have planned to control these variables when there is a very real possibility that a runaway Constitutional Convention will vote to discard the Constitution of 1789 in favor of “something new.”

Can this body convince me that the bill of rights will remain intact in the event of a runaway Con Con? In light of earlier Con Con history, can you guarantee that there will still be states existing as sovereign bodies after a Con Con? Had Alexander Hamilton gotten his way in 1787 there would be no separate states. Will a potential new constitution recognize my rights as being an inalienable gift of God which government is charged to protect by Him? Or will it treat them as a gift of government to be taken away and returned on the whim of whoever holds power?

As you can see there are many questions that must to be answered and many important concerns to be worked through before a Con Con can safely be petitioned for. I’m not sure that I’m convinced that a proper amount of contemplation of these questions and their broader consequences has been considered when I observe the speed which is being employed to push this measure through the legislative process.

Chairman Blessing, I want to thank you and the members of the committee for your patience and indulgence in hearing my testimony. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have of me.

Sowing The Wind- Part III

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Ohio Con Con Call

Public Policy RadarThere will be public hearings on the Ohio House’s  HJR 8, the call for a Constitutional Convention (Con Con), on Wednesday morning Dec. 10, 2008.

Several groups like the Ohio Freedom Alliance, CHESCA and others have managed to make it possible for those of us who oppose the Con Con resolution to give testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

If you wish to testify, please write out your testimony and make 30 copies for the House Judiciary Committee. Meet at in the Capitol Rotunda at 9:15 AM on Wednesday December 12, 2008.

Sowing The Wind- Part II

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Ohio Con Con Call

Public Policy RadarNow members of the Republican caucus in the Senate are joining their colleagues in the House of Representatives to introduce a resolution asking Congress to call a Constitutional Convention (Con Con). The resolution is Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 9. You can see the text of the resolution here.

Like it’s brother in the House, the Senate version displays a lack of knowledge of historical precedent regarding the calling of a Con Con.  And like its brother in the House it looks as if the Senators are trying desperately to avoid being confused by the facts that might be raised by public testimony and the necessary delay caused by careful deliberation of the possible consequences of the calling of a Con Con (see part I).

Ohio Senators and Representatives believe that they can control the proceedings of a Con Con by the mere passage of a resolution which purports to restrict any Ohio delegation to discussing matters relating to a balanced budget amendment. As former Chief Justice Warren Burger said in a letter written to Phyllis Schlafly

…there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the convention would obey. After a convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the convention if we don’t like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the confederation Congress “for the sole and express purpose.”(emphasis added)

The video series (in 4 parts) attached below is an excellent argument refutation of  the idea that state legislatures and even federal legislatures can in any way control what happens in any Constitutional Convention. It was designed for the viewing of state legislators who are embroiled in Con Con resolution debates. Delegates to a Con Con once chosen become super-legislators who answer to no one but themselves for their proposals.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za8_pdJ1dPo[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flHJrcdfbBg[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly1Lh3bqtYM[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5jKAlgvCgg[/youtube]

Granted, any new document would have to go through a ratification process, however fighting a new Constitution would be a long, hard, ugly and expensive battle which is guaranteed to leave the nation split along ideological lines. It is not difficult to envision civil unrest, riots or even civil war as a result of any re-writing of the current Constitution. We need to stop this before it starts.

How Can I Get Involved?

Please contact your Representatives and Senators by phone TODAY! It is imperative that Ohio not call for a Con Con. It appears that we would be the 33rd state to make such a call (3 or 4 have rescinded but Congress often ignores rescisions) with only 34 necessary to force Congress to call a convention under article V of the Constitution. If you don’t know how to get their phone number click here to go to the Ohio Legislature website. Follow the easy instructions to get their names. Once you have the name, click it to go to the representative’s or senator’s website where you can get their phone number. Pick up the phone and call. Ask to speak to the representative. Tell whoever takes the phone call politely but firmly that you want them to vote no on HJR 8. They may ask why and you can politely explain what you’ve learned here.

These resolutions are fast-tracked with the wheels greased. The time to act is now.

Sowing The Wind

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Ohio Con Con Call

Public Policy RadarFor they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it.- Hosea 8:7

Members of the Republican caucus in the Ohio Legislature have decided the time is right for a Constitutional Convention (Con Con). A new resolution House Joint Resolution (HJR) 8 has just been introduced which petitions the US Congress for the calling of a Con Con. In the resolution the purpose is ostensibly to bring before Congress a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution. Indeed, the resolution is crafted with a limitation on Con Con members which only permits them to discuss a balanced budget amendment and forbids any other discussion. On its face it appears to be a noble effort.

Unfortunately, the resolution displays a gross ignorance of constitutional history, reveals a dangerous naivete regarding how a Con Con would be constituted and reveals a political tin ear regarding the current political and social thought in the United States.

Historically, the original Constitutional Convention in 1787 was called specifically to amend the Articles of Confederation, not to write a new constitution. In fact, many states were so fearful of a complete restructuring of government with a shift of power from the states to a central government that they passed resolutions requiring their delegates to discuss amendments to the Articles ONLY and specifically forbade them to discuss core changes to the Articles or to re-draft them. It is interesting to note that the first act of the Constitutional Convention was to agree to act in complete secret. The second act was to debate the restrictions from state governments regarding discussion of re-drafting the Articles and to declare the Articles of Confederation as null and void. The convention agreed in one fell swoop to ignore state restrictions and to scrap the Articles. So much for state legislative restrictions on Con Con delegates.

Practically, how do these well-meaning legislators hope to control who is chosen as delegates to any Con Con? How will these delegates be chosen? What will be the criteria for their selection? What are the requirements regarding their areas of expertise? Will they appointed by the legislature? By the Governor? By a “Blue Ribbon Panel of Experts (God help us!)?” By a plebescite? If by plebescite, then who would be eligible to vote? All registered voters, even those with no address other than a park bench or overpass as in the 2008 Ohio elections? Property owners? Welfare recipients? Temporary residents like college students? Will the mentally deficient and senile vote be as coveted as it has been in presidential politics?

With all of this in mind what will the result of any Con Con be? You can rest assured that the United States would no longer be under the Constitution of 1789. There will be a new constitution if a Con Con is called. We are neither prophets nor can we read tea leaves, tarot cards or the entrails of chickens (nor would we due to the occultic nature of the acts). We do have a eye to see and ears to hear the current political and social thought in American society.

The new government that would emerge from a Con Con would look nothing like the brilliant design we currently have. Like our bicameral legislature? Kiss it goodbye. “Experts” have been pining for a parliamentary form of government for many years, the fact the founders rejected this form notwithstanding. And that “new” parliament will have “reserved seats” for different ethnic and other “groups,” another fantasy that has been on government “experts” wish-lists for decades.

Kiss the second amendment goodbye, in favor of a “collective” right to self-defense, meaning no private ownership of firearms or other weapons. Only police and armed forces (not to mention criminals) will have guns. Kiss the much battered and abused 4th and 5th amendments goodbye. Watch for the 1st amendment to be “revised” into a meaningless jumble of verbiage which any court can feel free to misconstrue at will. The same for the rest of the Bill of Rights.

State sovereignty as guaranteed in  the 9th and 10th amendments and article IV of the Constitution? An archaic idea whose time has passed in a modern world. It will be chucked in favor of wording which would allow easy melding of the United States of America with its northern and southern neighbors into a United States of North and South America as part of a regional world governance scheme under the UN.

Look for the concept of individual rights as an inalienable endowment from an omnipotent Creator who has endowed government with the power of the sword to protect those rights to be put aside as an anachronistic relic of a bygone era. It will be replaced with the ancient/modern concept of the collective right, awarded and enforced by government, not for the protection of the individual from predation by government and his fellow citizens but for the “benefit of the many” and the “common good,” euphemisms for forcible confiscation and redistribution of wealth and suppression of liberty. Or, in other words, what the founders called “tyranny.”

One doesn’t have to look further that the bank bailouts and the election of an open Marxist to the presidency to see that the United States is no longer a nation which thinks in terms of individual rights and responsibilities as it did in 1787. God is no longer the providential provider and protector of the needs, wants and safety of His people, it is now believed to be government which performs these services.

Any document crafted by committee dealing with philosophical and social issues will reflect the philosophical and social thought of the documents drafters and those who will modify and ratify that document. It is certain that any new constitution will be a reflection of the dominant philosophical views of whoever is chosen as delegates to the convention and the ratifying bodies and from our perspective the line up of potential representatives looks pretty bad.

All true conservatives want a balanced budget but not at the price of a revolutionary change in our system of government. And, if truth be told, what we will get from a con con is a new constitution without the balanced budget. In fact the new constitution will undoubtedly eliminate the article I restriction to the coinage of real money, something the federal government has been ignoring since the early 20th century and in some cases before. Thus what looks like a great idea at the front will fall victim to the law of unintended consequences and destroy the vestiges of liberty which remain.

OK, but what can I do about it?

What you can do about it is contact your state legislators and senators- TODAY! By telephone! Don’t know who your representatives are? Not a problem. Click here to go to the Ohio Legislature website. Follow the easy instructions to get their names. Once you have the name, click it to go to the representative’s or senator’s website where you can get their phone number. Pick up the phone and call. Ask to speak to the representative. Tell whoever takes the phone call politely but firmly that you want them to vote no on HJR 8. They may ask why and you can politely explain what you’ve learned here.

Remember, this is scheduled for hearings and a vote on this coming WEDNESDAY! Act fast!