Convention of the States-Necessity or Needless?

Convention of the States-Necessity or Needless?

Mike Pyatt

It would be safe to wager that few Americans are aware that an Article V Constitutional Convention, or amendatory convention, can be called. It’s a well coordinated national effort to call a constitutional convention. Initially in 2015, Citizens for Self Governance, launched a nationwide call for a Convention of the States (COS) comprised primarily of conservative advocates. They’re still short of the constitutionally required thirty-four state goal. To be accurate, calls for this convention come from the Right and Left. Its outcome, yet unknown, has many liberty minded advocates sounding an alarm for the uncertainty of such a movement. Supporters maintain it’s the best solution to rein in the D.C. leviathan peacefully. It furrowed many brows regarding a runaway convention, which COS members roundly deny. Some protest there’s no enforceable mechanism to prevent wholesale changes to our Constitution. Since 2015, the COS resolution has passed fifteen states.

Imagine that the original four page Constitution has burgeoned to over three-thousand pages, including the Supreme Court’s opinion regarding those sparse words of the original parchment. Founders knew the real genius of the Constitution was designed to control the one facet-which has not, and will not change-namely human nature’s proclivity to corruption. It prompted Madison to warn of the danger of losing our Constitutional rights by gradual and silent erosion, “This danger ought to be guarded against.” In reflection, many patriots are asking, “How can we return to those founding principles?” We’ve not heeded the weight of those warnings.

Since the war between the States, our nation hasn’t been more divided. Individual liberty, and our First and Second Amendment are under assault. Convention of the States isn’t a household word yet. In 2013, Mark Levin popularized the movement in his book “The Liberty Amendments.” He’s joined by many conservative voices pushing for an Article V Amendment that allows the states to call a Convention of the States to limit federal spending, debt, regulations and more. There’s strong support to put big government back in its “constitutional box” to restore power to the states. Last week our Wyoming Senate voted down a joint resolution to empower the legislature to call a convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It failed 14-16.

Opponents of this movement expressed legitimate concerns questioning the wisdom of such an effort. For example, if our elected officials are not following the Constitution currently, what would compel them to follow any amendments? Who’ll be in charge of this process? On what basis would delegates be selected? Could a state delegation be recalled by its legislature, and its call for a convention be rescinded during the convention? Who’ll bankroll this extravaganza? In this political mix are some strange bedfellows, like WolfPAC that persuaded five blue states to request an Article V convention. What about groups like the Sierra Club, NEA, Greenpeace, and Common Cause? With that many cooks in the kitchen, who’ll dare sample the broth?

The late Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum’s Lioness, in March 2011, declared, “No need for a Constitutional Convention. It’s a very bad idea. If a national convention is convened, we would have no control over what it does. There are no rules about how delegates would be selected.” It was her experience in dozens of political conventions that prompted this conclusion, “The guy who controls the gavel is able to exercise total control over the rules, the agenda, the microphones, and the adjournment. Tell your state legislators to vote ‘NO’ on any resolutions to call a convention to tamper with our great Constitution.” She warned of the potential mischief inherent in the process would be seductive, as well as the influence of special interests. Contrastingly, Constitutional Law Litigator for the NRA, Charles J. Cooper, who joined the effort, claims the path is safe and secure, otherwise he wouldn’t be on board.

Nothing in Article V, or anywhere else in the Constitution, authorizes Congress, state legislatures, or anyone else to limit the agenda of an Article V Convention. Even if they did, the Supreme Court has made it clear that this process is a “political question” in which the courts are unlikely to intrude. In Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, December, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, when state officials derive there powers from the U..S. Constitution, federal law can constrain state officials’ action. Georgetown law professor, David A. Super, contends a Constitutional Convention is reckless, concluding, “Nothing these groups propose does anything to mitigate the risks that a convention would bring. State legislators should not delude themselves that the dangers of an Article V convention can somehow be contained.”

Those opposing the Convention of the States must offer an alternative solution. It’s not a disagreement over the threat to our God given individual rights. By their own admission, it could take at least five years to reach their goal. Politically, that’s an eternity. Wyoming’s liberty minded conservatives stress a strong Tenth Amendment response to resist Federal over-reach by bolstering our legislature, electing more liberty minded conservatives in both houses. To that end, it’ll demand replacing a feckless governor in 2022. It starts with bottom-up liberty minded county precinct men and women, and constitutionally percipient County Sheriffs. Our current Wyoming State GOP leadership has, with cooperation from most County Chairman, inculcated the spirit of liberty across Wyoming. Smartly informed voters must show up to cast their ballot to oust moderates.

Students of history understand that reclaiming one’s constitutional rights isn’t for the faint-of-heart. Advocates for a Convention of the States, are, with stated exceptions, fellow liberty-minded conservatives who offer a different resolution to a towering problem. They aren’t our enemies. We differ on a fundamental approach. Considering the current political landscape, our choice is a stronger Wyoming, willing to forge strong alliances with other like minded western states. No drawing of swords or name calling.

We’ll need a renewed reliance on the Lord Who guided our Founders, a return to what John Adams described as “virtuous liberty.” We strongly condemn the liberals unwarranted demand for liberation from the “dead hands of the past.” Liberty’s not a novelty to be created, but a legacy to be conserved. We’re called for such a time as this. There’s no surcease to these battles. What do you think?

Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s roderickstj@yahoo.com

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