Convention of States gaining ground
America's Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention knew that any form of government they created would become corrupt. They had already seen it happen in numerous states. That and other failings were what led to the need for a new form of government to replace the confederacy.
Those known abuses that would arise were the reason for the amendment process being able to take two distinct routes — one through Congress, before proposed amendments reached the states. The other was strictly through the states, giving Congress no role other than calling for a Convention of the States.
The Founders, in essence, gave a third option they did not have when rebelling against Britain: the power of the states to curtail governmental abuse.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution lays out the amendment process:
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.
Equal weight is given in the Constitution for the amendment process. One allows for Congress to write amendments before sending them to the states. The other bypasses Congress, except for the initial application and requirement to call for a convention.
For some reason I have never been able to fathom, a Convention of the States has never been done. It is a legitimate means for the states to take back power lost over time to the federal government.
Considering the negative results Democrats in Washington have inflicted on this country just since 2021, it is easy to see only the negatives. Reading and speaking about negatives all the time is not healthy. Good news needs to get sprinkled in, like getting closer to a Convention of the States.
What used to be considered a long shot when Alaska, Florida, and Georgia passed the resolution in their state legislatures in 2014 has been slowly picking up steam. It was ignored or written off by Democrats, much of the media, and Republicans who might as well be Democrats. Now, when they bother to mention it, they attack the very idea that anyone other than Congress should handle the process.
Apparently, some believe that Congress has a better idea of what is happening outside Washington than the states. Yet it is the states who bear the burden of their recklessness.
The idea that Congress can control itself is ridiculous. The states should have taken legitimate constitutional action when Woodrow Wilson turned the American press into his own propaganda unit — not to mention the political prisoners, the eugenics laws at the federal level, and a whole host of other really unpleasant things from the worst president this nation has ever experienced.
That slow momentum that began in 2014 has resulted in nineteen states passing the Convention in both state legislative branches. Four of those states passed it this year. Six states have had it pass in one house. Twenty-one states are considering resolutions this year.
That is forty-six states who have passed it in both houses, passed it in one house, or are set to consider resolutions this year. That's more than enough for a Convention, should enough of those states vote for it in both houses.
The organization pushing for a Convention is the Convention of States Project and has laid out the amendments it wants to pass:
Convention of States Project; a national effort to call a convention under Article V of the United States Constitution, restricted to proposing amendments that will impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit its power and jurisdiction, and impose term limits on its officials and members of Congress.
All three issues will never pass Congress since, congressmen will never limit themselves. It is long past time for the states to act in their rightful constitutional capacity.
For whatever reason, states have been leery about rights they can constitutionally exercise. Cowardice is the only thing that comes to mind. They have been afraid of exercising their own legitimate power. It is a shame Washington does not have the same restraint.
The simple fact is, had it not been for the train wreck everyone paying attention to politics knew was coming with Biden and Harris, there would not be the momentum the Convention has gained this year.
There are those who fear that a runaway Convention could destroy the Constitution or some part of the Bill of Rights. Those fears are unjustified. They could no more have a runaway Convention than the Founders did when creating a new form of government since the states still had to pass the Constitution into existence — just as would happen following a Convention.
A Convention can only create the wording for proposed Amendments, not pass them. Any Amendment that comes out of a Convention will still need to be voted on by state legislatures, just as they do to have a Convention or pass other amendments that have come out of Congress.
Since a Convention cannot pass anything, time is given to carefully scrutinize the wording. There is no magic that surpasses the states, and nothing can be forced upon them from a Convention.
Bob Ryan is a pen name.
Graphic credit: Convention of States Action logo.