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.