There is growing pressure mounting upon Montana statesmen and women, particularly conservatives, to support a ‘Convention of States’ to re-work the U.S. Constitution. In certain cases, advocates for a Convention of States have been aggressively hostile toward conservatives who are not yet sold on the idea of reworking our highest earthly law. This article will serve as a White Paper on the Convention of States, explain the pros and cons, and ultimately encourage caution and restraint before adopting such an agenda.
WHAT IS A CONVENTION OF STATES?
Also known as an “Article V Convention,” “Constitutional Convention,” “Con-Con,” or “Amendatory Convention,” a Convention of States is a measure allowed under Article V of the United States Constitution. The purpose of such a convention is to amend the Constitution and is one of two measures proposed in Article V to fix what may come to be perceived as a broken system.
The other, more common measure to change the Constitution proposed in Article V is by a two-thirds vote in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. But this measure, the Convention of States, is slightly more complicated.
According to Article V, the states themselves may convene a convention to rework the Constitution and must be approved by three-fourths of the states (currently, this number is 38 out of 50). This may change in the near future if Democrats are successful in adding Washington D.C. or Puerto Rico to the Union, both of which are currently being proposed in the federal legislature.
Article V reads…
“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…”
As you can see above, three-fourths of the states must ratify the constitutional changes, but two-thirds are necessary to call such a convention (currently 33 states).
WHO DESIRES A CONVENTION OF STATES?
There is some level of misrepresentation on this point, as to who would benefit from an Article V Convention and who has promoted the idea. Conservatives, like those associated with the Convention of States Action, project the notion that it is fundamentally a hobby horse of conservatives and that those who oppose it are by necessity liberals. Yet, this is not entirely accurate.
Both Democrats and Republicans have advocated for a Convention of States in recent years, each thinking that their side will successfully rewrite the Constitution. As Convention of States Action has accused conservative statesmen and women of liberal conspiracies for not supporting the effort, the reality is that there’s a line of left-of-center politicians who have also supported the notion. Most notably on the Republican side, far-left Republican, John Kasich, has promoted the agenda. Meanwhile, conservative stalwart organizations like the late Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum (Schlafly’s last political act before departing this Earth was to endorse Donald Trump, among the first political leaders to do so) and the far-right John Birch Society both oppose the movement.
And just as conservative groups like Eagle Forum and John Birch Society oppose an Article V Convention, some liberal and/or Democrat groups actually support it. Even Convention of States Action acknowledges that 55% of Democrats support calling for the measure to rework the Constitution. While less than the 70 some-odd percent support from Republicans, by every definition it seems that the move to call for such a convention is bi-partisan to say the least.
WHY ARE SOME CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERALS PROMOTING A CONVENTION OF STATES?
Conservatives generally operate under the notion that the U.S. Constitution was a fine and sacred document, but has been stretched far beyond its intended reading by an activist judiciary and through laws crafted by liberals who view the constitution as a “living document.” And while legal precedent, or case law, isn’t law at all, it is often treated as such by the judiciary. This means that woefully poor court rulings, like Roe v Wade, have eisegetically misinterpreted the Constitution and precedent seems insurmountable in overturning bad decisions. Conservatives seem particularly driven by the notion of a Balanced Budget Amendment, which will fiscally save our Republic from the advance of socialism and the endless welfare state promoted by Democrats.
On the other hand, liberals have their wishlist as well, if they were to rewrite the Constitution. Most often, liberals have been motivated by the desire to overturn Citizens United, which they view as a gateway for corruption. And no doubt, some liberals wish the founders would have worded the Constitution and Bill of Rights differently, arguing that the Second Amendment never was intended to support the ownership of anything but muskets by a regulated (government-affiliated) militia. And while they would be wrong about that, they are nonetheless convinced that they can “clean up” America’s founding document.
With both liberals and conservatives who promote a Convention of States, there is a hint of unrealistic optimism on both sides. Conservatives believe that such a Convention can return or repair our Republic, while Democrats believe that they would hold the power to bring Constitutional reform, and not conservatives.
WHO WOULD BENEFIT MORE FROM A CONVENTION OF STATES?
This question requires a speculative answer. While conservatives insist that they would win a reform movement, they would probably also have insisted that Trump would have won the 2020 presidential election. And although, if truth were told, Trump likely did win the presidential election, demonstrable and easily-proveable voter fraud has placed Joe Biden in the White House and placed the Democratic Party in such a position of power-drunk authority that they are seriously suggesting treating both Trump and his supporters as Domestic Terrorists. It should not be lost on conservatives, therefore, that even if the power of populism remains on the conservative side, the power of corruption remains in the leftwing of government.
Would the current election system, with its current flaws, even present an accurate or fair outcome for such a convention? In the climate of 2021, it is not a sure bet that conservatives would come out on top, if for no other reason the ability of the Democratic Party to engage in widespread fraud and suppression.
The reality is, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 well-demonstrates that such a measure can result in a complete dismissal of the previous form of government, as was done with the Articles of Confederation. This could result, if liberals win, in the complete dismissal of the American form of government (no doubt, a goal of the Democratic Party).
Imagine a new Bill of Rights that changes the wording of the First Amendment to enshrine “Freedom of Worship” instead of the “Freedom of Religion.” Worship is usually perceived as confined to a particular location and time, such as church on Sunday morning. But the right to exercise a religion (as the Constitution now says) guarantees our right to practice our faith 24-7, including in matters of conscience (such as not being forced to make a gay wedding cake). Or consider what might happen if the Second Amendment were reworded to exclude the word “People” (giving gun rights to individual Citizens) and instead hat-tipped only the U.S. military or police.
There is no guarantee that what would be handed to us would compare to the greatness, genius, and glory of the U.S. Constitution crafted by our founders.
IT’S THE WRONG STRATEGY AT THE WRONG TIME
Consider that currently, Joe Biden is president under suspicious circumstances. The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are controlled by the Democratic Party and are attempting to expel or censure members like Senator Cruz, Senator Hawley, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. The U.S. Supreme Court continues to tilt left through the Quisling influence of John Roberts and promises conservatives no reprieve from the Democratic agenda. The Deep State has not been flushed out of “the swamp” and bureaucrats seem cemented within the fabric of Washington. States that are standing up to the Big Tech censorship which brought the current regime change, like Governors Abbot and DeSantis, are few and far between. Just yesterday, the Republican caucus in the U.S. House failed (dramatically) to remove Liz Cheney from party leadership for voting to impeach President Trump. The conservative movement, whether you like it or not, is in tatters.
Until Republicans are able to fight back sufficiently against Big Tech censorship, and until we begin to act consistently according to our conservative principles, the odds of achieving a positive outcome through an Article V Convention are slim to none. Without the Freedom of Speech in our communications, whether or not conservatives can even be mobilized to commandeer such a convention is dubious.
Meanwhile, we should remember the problem is truly not our Constitution. It remains one of the finest documents for the governance of men ever created. The problem is not the document itself, but the judiciary that has so treasonously ignored it or stretched it beyond its original meaning.
However, there remains in Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution a means to correct or amend anything that needs correction, through the option of an amendment process that will not overturn the entire system. It has been used 17 times in American history (after the original Bill of Rights), even to overturn previous amendments. This appears to – currently – be a better option for conservatives.
TURNING ON CONSERVATIVES OVER THIS ISSUE IS MISGUIDED
Advocates for a Constitutional Convention need to remember that this is not an issue that should divide or demonize statesmen and women who feel that the movement is currently unwise. They should keep in mind that such a position is malleable, given the current state of our union. While proponents are quick to point out the genius of the founders in providing the means of reform in Article V, they should remember that the founders’ genius also made it extraordinarily difficult to do so. That’s for a reason.
Meanwhile, those in office also must face the hard reality that a Constitutional Convention will not happen anytime soon, no matter what. Currently, 28 states have requested an Article V Convention, with six more needed. If that seems like only a short distance away, keep in mind that this is four less than in 1983 (several states have since pulled their request), meaning that the movement is going backwards rather than forwards.
Should conservative activists seek to promote a Constitutional Convention, they should do so when legislatures are not in session. It is unfortunate that amidst the battle in our statehouses with Democrats, conservative leaders have to fend off attacks from conservatives mid-session. Such disputes should be held in the off-season when the time and energy of our elected representatives aren’t desperately needed to conduct the people’s business.