Our Constitutional form of government is in peril. The intent of the framers of the U.S. Constitution is ignored with impunity. The concept of liberty through limited government is lost on nearly all that we send to DC. The national debt spirals out of control. The powers reserved to the states and the people are usurped as though the 10th Amendment has somehow been repealed.
It is upon this stage that Mark Levin’s Liberty Amendments and calls for a Convention of States enters. As I suppose most are already aware, conservative talk radio host, Mark Levin, published a book this past summer titled, The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic. In his book, Mr. Levin proposes eleven amendments to the U.S. Constitution intended to rein in an unruly, reckless and usurpatious federal government.
Mr. Levin is not alone in his belief that liberty can be restored and the republic rescued through amending the Constitution. Conservative leader, Michael Farris, and Tea Party Patriots co-founder, Mark Meckler, are heading up the Convention of States Project with the goal of convincing state legislatures to use the provisions of Article V of the U.S. Constitution whereby states can call for a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments. The project seeks to have the states call a convention to propose amendments “limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.”
Adding momentum to the movement, a group of state legislators met at Mount Vernon this past month to discuss calling a convention and the amendments that might be proposed.
While conservative, TEA Party, Liberty Movement and Constitutional types may all agree as to the need to rein in an unruly federal government, the method being proposed is a point of serious contention.
Proponents of a convention contend that states could strictly limit their delegates authority so as to only allow for the proposing of amendments that limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. Opponents cite reasons to believe that once called, all bets would be off and the convention could set its own rules and propose any amendments it likes. Some proponents counter with the argument that even if the convention itself went off the rails and proposed amendments granting more federal power and broader jurisdiction, the amendments could be blocked by a mere one fourth of the states, plus one, refusing to ratify the amendments (the Constitution requires amendments to be ratified by 3/4 of the states).
The fact that educated, scholarly and well respected conservative leaders disagree as to whether a convention could with certainty be limited to a single purpose, is reason for concern. But the convention would not be called and run by these respected conservative leaders who are currently debating what limits, if any, could be placed on the convention. A convention of states, if called, would instead be in the hands of the sum of the state legislatures and that’s cause for outright alarm.
Herein lies my greatest concern with an Article V convention of states – the character and caliber of the representatives to whom a Constitutional Convention and the ratifying of proposed amendments would be intrusted. If our state legislatures were filled with men possessing the wisdom and integrity of our nation’s founders, then I would be much more inclined to entrust them with the task of opening up the supreme law of our land and correcting any deficiencies they might find. However, if our legislative assemblies were filled with men of the Founding Father’s caliber, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Opponents to a convention contend that the usurpations of the federal government are already within the power of states to curtail through interposition and nullification. If you’re not acquainted with these concepts, you will want to check out the following resources.
- Interposition: The Duty of States to Protect Their Citizens (audio) – by Dr. Herb Titus (transcript of speech)
- Nullification: A Tool We All Have (video) – by Thomas Woods
The short story on interposition and nullification is that states have the right, and the duty, to say “NO” to any federal program, regulation, mandate, or other activity that is not clearly enumerated in Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution, as a power that has been delegated to the federal government. Application of this concept by the union states would stop dead in their tracks things like the Department of Education forcing curriculum on states (common core), the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), EPA regulations, federal intrusion into intrastate commerce and would smack down even the thought of federal gun registration or confiscation.
Proponents optimism for getting liberty amendments passed by a convention and being able to shoot down any bad amendments during ratification, may be springing in part from the fact that 24 states are currently under complete Republican control (majority in both houses and governor), with only 13 in the hands of Democrats and 13 divided. One of the divided states has a veto proof Republican supermajority in the legislature, so that puts fully half of the states under Republican control and able to implement anything on the Republican agenda by the end of next week, or at least by the end of the legislative session.
But, I have to ask, how many states have nullified Obamacare? How many have extricated themselves from the entanglements of the federal education Leviathan? How many have made gold and silver coin their only tender in payment of debts as required in Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution? How many have stood up on their hind legs and said “NO” to the rules, regulations or mandates of even one of the federal agencies or programs not enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution? How many have begun to wind down even just a few of their state run Great Society welfare programs? For that matter, how many of the states that we would be trusting to rein in the federal government have done anything to reduce the size or scope of their own state government? How many have so much as cut their state budget or reduced the tax burdens of their own citizens in any meaningful way?
Between the 25 states run by the red team and 13 by the blue, I’m hard pressed to find a significant difference between them or anything indicating that they would run things in a manner substantially different than what Congress does. What exactly causes us to hope that a convention of states would produce the government restraining, liberty preserving amendments that would save us from an out of control federal government when the convention would be run by delegates from state legislatures that are effectively miniature replicas of Congress?
So why are we willing to place hope in a convention of states to save us? I believe it’s because we’re desperate.
The Christian-conservative-right feels like it has tried everything else and it hasn’t worked. We’ve tried TEA Parties of late, The Christian Coalition before that and now Republican Liberty Caucuses seem to be the latest rage. We’ve tried writing polite cards and letters to our Congressmen, and when that didn’t work, we tried angrily marching in the streets. We’ve tried giving the federal purse strings to a Republican controlled House, but the red ink continues to flow. We tried complete Republican control of every branch of the federal government from 2000 to 2006, but the government only grew bigger. We’ve tried giving complete control of fully half of the states to the favored political party, but still no one interposes to nullify the usurpations of an abusive federal government, or of the state government either for that matter.
I heard someone from the pro convention side refer to an Article V convention of states as an “emergency cord” given to us by the framers of the Constitution – and I agree. But I believe that emergency cord will only effect the desired rescue when placed into the hands of men with a sound understanding of God given rights, the principles of liberty, the Biblically prescribed role of civil government and the original intent of the framers of our existing Constitution – men who possess the courage to stand on their convictions and not waiver. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see our current state legislatures fitting that bill.
I believe that the only thing that can assure a favorable outcome to a constitutional convention is the same thing that would eliminate the need for a convention in the first place – the electing of God honoring men of wisdom, principle, courage and integrity at all levels of government.
You see, it isn’t the Constitution that’s defective and in need of repair. It worked just fine so long as we elected men who regarded it’s plain text and honored the original intent of its framers. And so long as we elect men who do not regard the plain text or clear intent of the supreme law of our land, then no governing document or amendment thereto will be safe.
There is a lot more to know and consider about the proposed convention of states and liberty amendments. I believe you owe it to yourself and to future generations to make informed choices. My friend, four term Missouri State Representative, Constitution Party leader and internet broadcaster, Cynthia Davis, has interviewed representatives from both sides of this debate on her “Home Front” podcast. You can click on the links below to hear those interviews.