Call to action for a Constitutional Convention

Darin Selnick VA Advisor, Concerned Veterans For America
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The government is broken, I know it, you know it, and your neighbors know it, so let’s do something about it. Issues such as abortion, term limits, line item veto, a balanced budget and many others flounder and go unresolved. Congress is part of the problem as evidenced with their passing of Obamacare and the Supreme Court is unreliable as it often legislates from the bench. What we need to do is go around them and that is why I am issuing a call to action for a Constitutional Convention. Although we call it a Constitutional Convention, what we really are calling for is an Article V convention which is used for proposing amendments to the Constitution.

There are an increasing number of calls for an Article V convention from people like Virginia Del. James M. LeMunyon, House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (Texas) and South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. Many media and political pundits are afraid of an Article V convention and feel that it could make wholesale changes to our Constitution, Bill of Rights and perhaps replace it altogether.

That is nonsense and a scare tactic as the framers of our Constitution knew what they were doing. They wanted to insure that if Congress grew corrupt or too powerful there would be a second mechanism to amend the Constitution, I guess you could call that a failsafe. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 85 in reference to Article V of the Constitution “We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority”. Thomas Jefferson said “Some men look at Constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched.”

Remember, all an Article V convention does is propose amendments to the Constitution just like Congress. You can’t write a new Constitution or do anything radical or different than what Congress can do right now. It still would take three-fourths (38) of the states to ratify each amendment either by their legislatures or by conventions and that is the barrier that stops unworthy amendments.

When we do get the Article V convention going we should not worry about agreeing in advance about which amendments should be introduced. Let them all be introduced, worked out and voted on until the important and worthy ones are decided on. The amendment I would like to introduce is a check and balance on the decisions made by the Supreme Court. While the president can veto Congress and Congress and overturn the president, no one can overturn the Supreme Court except by a constitutional amendment. My amendment would enable a Supreme Court decision to be overturned if both the president and two-thirds of Congress voted to repeal it.

So how do we get the Article V convention going? Well it takes an application of two-thirds (34) of the states legislatures to the Congress. Congress then must call the convention, they have no choice. Estimates vary but a good number of states already have passed their applications for an Article V convention. We need a big push to get the rest of the required 34 states to apply as well. It may seem daunting but in the 1960s the country came to within one state of getting a convention.

What we need going forward is to get the rest of the states on board for the Article V convention. The way to do that is a call to action like we have been having with health care reform. This is where you the average citizen can do something and make a difference. Talk to your family, friends and neighbors and have everyone call, email and visit your state legislator and ask them to support having your state legislature pass an application for an Article V convention.

The one nationwide movement that could have an impact on this is the tea party. If the tea party movement would rally for an Article V convention like they rallied against the health care reform legislation, they could put it over the top. It is obvious that the president and Congress do not care what the members of the tea party have to say, so this is their chance to go around them, have their voices matter and effect real change.

So there it is, we the people have a choice to make either continue to just talk and do nothing, or do something about fixing our country by taking action and having an Article V convention. As Thomas Jefferson said “A little rebellion now and then…is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.”

Darin Selnick is an independent consultant and former director of Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives within the Department of Veterans Affairs.