The methods for changing the US Constitution are spelled out in Article 5 of the Constitution. Most of us are aware that if two-thirds of the members of both houses of the US Congress approve, the Congress can propose an amendment to the Constitution. If ratified either by approval of the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or ratifying conventions held in three-fourths of the states, then the amendment becomes part of the US Constitution.
There is another part of Article 5 that is not as well known. The States themselves can propose amending the constitution by calling for a national constitutional convention. It takes two-thirds of the legislatures of the various states to call for a national constitutional convention. If that happens, the Federal Government doesn’t have the option of not allowing it; by present constitutional law, a new constitutional convention must be held.
As it happens, state legislatures have been calling for a national constitutional convention for years. Most of state legislatures have specific amendments in mind that they want to become part of the US Constitution, such as the balanced budget amendment, the equal rights amendment, a flat income tax, etc. As it happens, by some current counts, only two additional state legislatures need to pass resolutions calling for a national constitutional convention.
Many opposed to the idea of a new constitutional convention dispute the count. As a result of changing political fortunes, the state legislative houses can change from Democratic control to Republican control, or vice versa. A couple of legislatures have “rescinded” or “revoked” their state’s call. However, the US Constitution has no such provision or process for removing a state’s resolution calling for a new convention.
However, once two more state legislatures call for a constitutional convention, then the matter will be resolved by the US Supreme Court. Most constitutional scholars give even odds one way or the other on how the Supreme Court would rule, but regardless of the Supremes, eventually there will be enough state calls for a national constitutional convention to force the matter.
And that scares the shit out of lots of people. But not normal people, but people who have a vested interest in the current form of government do not want the rules changing, especially in ways that may take away their advantages. Imagine, Billionaires and Mega Corporations forced to pay 20 percent of their income as a flat federal income tax, all of their tax exemptions and shelters swept away by a new government. Unthinkable!! … for Billionaires.
They even bankroll a foundation dedicated to the monitoring and suppression of state calls for a constitutional convention. Check out http://www.jeffersonreview.com/2011/02/urgent-stop-the-proposed-constitutional-convention/ and http://www.patriotactionnetwork.com/forum/topics/stop-the-federal, if you don’t believe me. Or just Google “stop the constitutional convention.” You’ll get lots of hits.
Why does it scare these people? Because a national constitutional convention is not limited in anyway in how much or what subjects it can address and change. The last time a national convention was called, it was supposed to merely propose changes to the first American Constitution, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (not in any way linked to the Confederacy and the Civil War). Instead, they threw out the Articles of Confederation and wrote the current US Constitution as a total replacement. It could happen again.
In fact, many past and present members of the Supreme Court, as well as other eminent constitutional scholars, have give their opinions on this very subject. I quote former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. “I have 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. After a Convention is convened it is too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda.”
I say good. That’s what we need, total review and reevaluation of the present structure of government. If amendments can’t get the Federal Government working for the people of the United States of America again, then change it. Change it totally, if necessary.
Face it. The average Joe or Jane doesn’t matter to the Federal Government anymore. You have to have money, and lots of it, to get any attention from the government. But if you do, you can get just about anything you want. Our nation isn’t a democracy in anything but name anymore. It is actually an Aristocracy, ruled for and by the wealthy and their corporate lackeys.
So am I advocating Socialism? Not hardly. I believe that a person should be allowed to achieve high success, earn lots of money, and keep the monetary rewards of their efforts, minus a fair amount paid as income taxes. I don’t want to discriminate against the rich.
What I am saying is that just because you have money, you shouldn’t be anymore important, worthy, or significant than the average wage earner. Not in the eyes of the government anyway. The operation of the government effects us all, and it should be a level playing field. It shouldn’t be run like a high stakes poker game where you have to “buy in” to be a player.
So, how can we do this? Get a new national constitutional convention called? Frankly, I suggest the initiative process be used in states that allow people to propose and vote their own laws into being. A initiative, or proposition, could be placed on a ballot as a proposed law that, if approved by the electorate, would force the legislature to call for a national constitutional convention. It could take the form of a state constitutional amendment or an ordinary statute. California has such a process, and is not one of the states that has already called for a constitutional convention. It would only take the addition of two such states to reach the two-thirds majority of state legislatures needed to force the matter.
Let’s get this done. Let’s get those two to four additional states to call for a constitutional convention. It is time for a change. A real change this time and not just a slogan.