Skip to content


Wanting To Amend The Constitution…In The Worst Way

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Freedom Action Conference 2010

Many of you have probably received this email or some variation of it-

Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 ( of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.

This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on. For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn’t pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform that is being considered…in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn’t seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don’t care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. This is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come. Have each person contact a minimum of twenty people on their Address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution

“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States .”

You are one of my 20.

Because this is starting to get wide circulation it’s time to deal with the idea that a new constitutional convention is a good idea. It isn’t. It’s a ghastly idea.

Let’s look at in detail to try and see why. First, let’s make it clear that the sentiment behind this effort is completely understandable if not laudable. The fact is that we live in an era of rapidly worsening governmental crisis and many are desperate to find a remedy for the crisis. There are media-savvy radicals who desperately want the opportunity to change our current form of government by removing the limits on the power of the Federal government and eliminating the state governments, centralizing all power in the hands of an unrestricted national, as opposed to truly federal government. They have eagerly zeroed in on the desperation of conservatives to “get their government back” and have worked nearly non-stop to come up with a strategy of fooling them into getting done what they by themselves could not- get a new constitutional convention called.

These radicals know they are in the minority and also know that the only way they can get what they want is to devise a way to get the very people who should be rallying to defend the Constitution to  demand that a new convention be called. The lever these radicals are using is a governmental crisis caused  by completely ignoring the limits already set by the current Constitution.

This proposed amendment deals with forcing Congress to live by the same laws that are foisted on the public by lawmakers who exempt themselves from many of the  effects and penalties of these laws, which obviously makes them a tyranny. There are other proposed amendments making the rounds. A notable recent effort has been made to push state legislators to call for a constitutional convention for the purpose of passing a balanced budget amendment. Obviously, both these amendments have desirable goals. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that the conservative individuals behind these efforts have been  taken in by carefully developed arguments that seem to  imply that a limited constitutional convention, “shackled” to dealing with only one or at most a few amendments. One group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is telling, falsely, state legislators that a “strongly worded” state resolution would “force” Congress and the delegates to a new convention to keep within the bounds of the state resolutions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is that once a convention is called, it completely out of the control of any legislative bodies. This is undeniable, based on previously set legal precedents from the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. That convention was bound by “strongly worded” Congressional and state resolutions, 12 of them, to amend the Articles of Convention, and ONLY amend the Articles. The first act of that convention was to vote to operate in complete secret. The second act of the convention was to agree to discard the Articles and write a new constitution.

Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger, when asked about what would happen at any new constitutional convention by Phyllis Schlafly 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.

Burger was obviously in a position to know.

Sadly, the level of historical and constitutional scholarship on our side of the question plays into the hands of the radicals. Note for instance this part of the email-

Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 ( of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.

What’s wrong with this statement? It only takes 34 states (2/3 of 50) to call a new convention. It requires 38  states (3/4 of 50) to ratify amendments to the Constitution. With this sad lack of understanding of the mechanics of the Constitution is it any real wonder that conservative supporters of a new constitutional convention don’t know that precedents were set by the first convention that allow the current constitution’s ratification procedure to be completely bypassed and a new one set? Or that there is absolutely NO constitutional requirement that the states even be INVOLVED in a new convention, beyond calling for it?

We’ve amended the Constitution 27 times. Some for the better and some for the worse. NOT ONCE have we had to resort to a constitutional convention to get one passed. That’s an irrefutable fact.

Now there is an exhaustive case to be made against many of the arguments in favor of a new constitutional convention. We can’t do that in this article, but we can do it in a series of articles. That’s going to happen here over the next few weeks.

If you get a copy of the email at the top or something like it, do a “reply all” with a link to this article and help inform a fellow conservative. He’ll thank you for it.

We can also do it in a teaching type situation. Want to know more? Then get to Valley Forge, PA this coming weekend for the 2010 Freedom Action Conference where Chuck Michaelis, Vice-chairman of the Institute for Principled Policy, will present a strong case refuting the arguments in favor of a constitutional convention. You can attend this conference for as low as $100. That’s an incredible price for 3 days of priceless information and networking opportunities.

Can’t get there but want to see the presentations right from your computer? Follow this link, 2010 Freedom Action Conference, and then click the “Live Stream” button at the top. That will get you access to both the live event and the digital archives for an extended period. That only costs $29!

Freedom Action Conference

Series NavigationThe Institute At The Freedom Action ConerfenceAnother Policy Institute Board Member to Teach at Freedom Action

Posted in Commentary, Public Policy Radar.