Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, July 08, 2016

The Same Old Con

The 2016 Republican presidential primaries yielded one "presumptive" nominee, Donald J. Trump. The primaries also yielded 16 candidates whose presidential campaigns were "suspended" but could remain in business for many more years. Former candidates Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, and Bobby Jindal have all put their efforts behind another project called the “Convention of States.” This is actually the same old Constitutional Convention idea dressed up with a new slogan. Its goal is to activate a never-used procedure where Congress calls a convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The Convention of States project claims to want to "limit the authority and jurisdiction of the federal government." That is precisely the purpose of the wonderful Constitution we already have. Surely we cannot expect some brand new language would do a better job than what was already done by the most brilliant political thinkers in American history. The deception of the "convention of states" lies in the name of the project. It is easy to see in the constitution that the convention would not be a "convention of states" in any sense of the word. Only Congress can decide when to call a convention. Only Congress can decide how delegates would be elected. Only Congress can decide how the voting power would be apportioned among the states and what rules would govern the convention.

Article V of the Constitution has only 22 words about a convention for proposing amendments. The most important is the word "call." Only Congress can "call" the convention. That means states have no control over who can be a delegate, who makes the rules, who sets the agenda, or who wields the gavel. Some conservatives assume that a constitutional convention would propose only conservative ideas like a balanced budget. We cannot assume something like that as long as Congress has total control over the proceedings. The constitution we have now is the best political document ever written. It would be foolish to try to make changes to it through a Convention of States.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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