Publius-Huldah's Blog

Understanding the Constitution

Honest discourse about Article V convention needed

By Publius Huldah

Whether States should ask Congress to call a convention under Article V of our federal Constitution is one of the most important issues of our time. The Delegates to such a convention, as Sovereign Representatives of The People, have the power to throw off the Constitution we have and set up a new Constitution – with a new and easier mode of ratification – which creates a new government.1

Americans need the Truth. But former law professor Rob Natelson’s recent article in The Hill is filled with ad hominems and misstatements. Natelson is legal advisor for pro-convention groups such as “Convention of States Project” (COSP).

“Poisoning the well” fallacy

Natelson characterizes those who oppose an Article V convention as “big government advocates”; “Washington insiders” who protect “judges and politicians who abuse their positions”; chanters of “talking points” from the “disinformation campaign” of the 1960s and early 1970s who have “no real expertise on the subject”; and, like those involved in “voter suppression efforts”, use “fear and disinformation” to discourage citizens from exercising their rights.

And while such tactics clearly resonate with COSP’s cheerleading squad; 2 others immediately recognize the preemptive ad hominem attack known as the “poisoning the wellfallacy. That fallacy is committed when one primes the audience with adverse information or false allegations about the opponent, in an attempt to bolster his own claim or discount the credibility of the opponent.

Obviously, Natelson’s characterizations don’t constitute proof that he is right, and opponents are wrong.

Misrepresentations, omissions, and irrelevant “academic research”

1. Natelson asserts:

“Our founders designed this [Article V convention] as a way the people could fix the federal government if it became abusive or dysfunctional”.

But he presents no proof – and can’t because no one at the federal convention of 1787 (where our present Constitution was drafted) said such a thing. As proved in The George Mason Fabrication, the Delegates agreed that the purpose of amendments is to correct defects in the Constitution.

2. Natelson asserts:

“Any proposals must… be ratified by 38 states before they become law.”

That’s not true. While any amendments to our Constitution must be ratified by 38 States; our Declaration of Independence says it’s the “self-evident” Right of a People to abolish their government and set up a new one.

We invoked that Right in 1776 to throw off the British Monarchy.

In 1787, we invoked that Right to throw off our first Constitution, the Articles of Confederation; and set up a new Constitution – the one we now have – which created a new government.

How did we get from our first Constitution to our second Constitution? There was a convention to propose amendments to our first Constitution!

The Continental Congress resolved on February 21, 1787 to call a convention to be held at Philadelphia:

for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation”.

But the Delegates ignored this limitation – they ignored the instructions from their States – and they wrote our second Constitution.

And in Federalist No. 40 (15th para), James Madison invoked the “precious right” of a People to throw off one government and set up a new one, as justification for what they did at the federal “amendments” convention of 1787.

We can’t stop that from happening at another convention. Furthermore, any new constitution will have its own mode of ratification. Whereas Art. 13 of the Articles of Confederation required amendments to be approved by the Continental Congress and all of the then 13 States; the new Constitution provided at Article VII that it would be ratified by 9 States.

Any proposed third constitution will have its own mode of ratification. The proposed Constitution for the Newstates of America is ratified by a national referendum (Art. XII, §1). The States don’t ratify it – they are dissolved and replaced by regional governments answerable to the new national government.

3. Natelson asserts that “academic research” shows:

“…how the convention is chosen and operates: It is a meeting of state representatives of a kind very common in U.S. history…The convention follows a pre-set agenda and attendees are subject to state legislative direction.”

Natelson’s “meetings” are irrelevant:  they weren’t constitutional conventions called to propose changes to our Constitution!

Furthermore, Natelson doesn’t mention the one relevant convention we have had in this Country: the federal “amendments” convention of 1787. That convention involved Delegates who ignored the instructions from their States 3 and from the Continental Congress, and resulted in a new Constitution with a new and easier mode of ratification. That is the only “meeting” which is relevant to the convention Congress has the power to call under Article V of our Constitution.

The “calling” of a convention by Congress is governed – not by Natelson’s “meetings” – but by provisions in our Constitution. Article V delegates to Congress the power to “call” a convention; and Article I, § 8, last clause, delegates to Congress the power to make laws “necessary and proper” to carry out that power.

As to the sovereign powers of Delegates, look to the Declaration of Independence, the federal “amendments” convention of 1787, and Federalist No. 40 – not to Natelson’s “meetings”.

4. In an earlier article, Georgetown law professor David Super cited Coleman v. Miller (1939) to show that as amending the Constitution is a “political question”; the courts are unlikely to intervene. 4

Natelson responded that Coleman is a 79-year old “minority opinion the courts have long repudiated”; but doesn’t show where the Supreme Court “repudiated” its opinion.

What Coleman shows is this: we can’t expect federal courts to make Delegates obey instructions. No one has power over Delegates – Delegates can take down one government and set up a new one.

Conclusion

Here’s an idea: Let’s all read our Declaration of Independence and Constitution; elect only people who have also read them, know what they say, and agree to obey; and then let’s downsize the federal government to its enumerated powers.

Endnotes:

1 This is why James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, four Supreme Court Justices, and other luminaries warned against an Article V convention.

2 At 5:25-7:35 mark. Archived HERE.

3 The States’ instructions are HERE at endnote 9.

4 Professor Super is right: When the Constitution delegates a power to one of the “political” branches [legislative or executive], federal courts [“judicial” branch] traditionally abstain from interfering and substituting their judgment for that of the branch to which the power was delegated.

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June 24, 2018 Posted by | Article V Convention, constitutional convention, convention lobby, Convention of States project, Delegates to a convention can't be controlled, James Madison, Professor David Super, Rob Natelson | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Straight Talk About An Article V Convention

By Publius Huldah

This speech was presented to Campaign For Liberty – Memphis on March 24, 2014. It exposes some of the false claims made by those pushing for the so-called “convention of states”. 1

Below are hyperlinks to the exhibits referred to in the speech. Additional resources are also included.

The one page Chart which illustrates our Declaration, Constitution, and federal system is HERE.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report 2 cited in the speech was dated March 7, 2014. CRS’s revised Report, dated April 11, 2014, is HERE.   The Report exposes as false the assurances that the States would be in control of a convention. The Report says:

“First, Article V delegates important and exclusive authority over the amendment process to Congress…” (page 4)

“Second . . . Congress has traditionally laid claim to broad responsibilities in connection with a convention, including . . . (4) determining the number and selection process for its delegates; (5) setting internal convention procedures, including formulae for allocation of votes among the states; . . .” (page 4) 3

“. . . [In previous bills filed in Congress] [a]pportionment of convention delegates among the states was generally set at the formula provided for the electoral college, with each state assigned a number equal to its combined Senate and House delegations. Some bills included the District of Columbia, assigning it three delegates, but others did not include the federal district. . .” (page 37; see also page 41)

“. . . A related question concerns vote allocation in an Article V Convention. Would delegates vote per capita, or would each state cast a single vote, during the convention’s deliberations, and on the final question of proposing amendments?. . .” [then follows a discussion of different views on this undecided issue] (page 41)

“Article V itself is silent on membership in an Article V Convention, so it is arguable that Congress, in summoning a convention to consider amendments, might choose to include the District of Columbia and U.S. territories as either full members at a convention, or possibly as observers. As noted previously, some versions of the Article V Convention procedures bills introduced in the late 20th century did provide for delegates representing the District of Columbia, although not for U.S. territories . . .” (page 42)

Page 40 of the Report shows there doesn’t seem to be any:

“. . . constitutional prohibition against [U.S.] Senators and Representatives serving as delegates to an Article V Convention. . . “

So! As the CRS Report states on page 27:

“In the final analysis, the question what sort of convention?” is not likely to be resolved unless or until the 34-state threshold has been crossed and a convention assembles.”

Do you see? But by then, it will be too late to stop it. HERE is former US Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger’s letter confirming this. 4

The text of the “parental rights” amendment is HERE. For two papers showing how Michael Farris’ proposed amendment delegates power over children to the federal and State governments, go HERE  and, for the follow up paper, HERE.

To see how six of Mark Levin’s so-called “liberty amendments” do the opposite of what he claims, go HERE.

To see – on one page – proof of the original intents of the “interstate commerce”, “general welfare”, and “necessary and proper” clauses, go HERE.

The proponents of a convention portray the States as victims of federal tyranny. But the Truth is that the States voluntarily surrendered their retained powers, and the natural rights of The People, TO the federal government. And they did it for federal funds. Today, States get from 20% (Alaska) to 45.3% (Mississippi) of their State budgets from the federal government. State governments don’t want to rein in the feds! The people who run your State will do anything to keep their federal funds. HERE is the Pew Report.

Our Framers – those who actually signed the Constitution – NEVER said the purpose of amendments is to rein in the feds if they usurp powers. What they actually said is:

  • amendments remedy defects in the Constitution (Hamilton at the federal convention on Sep. 10, 1787);
  • useful amendments would address the “organization of the government, not … the mass of its powers” (Federalist No. 85, 13th para); and
  • “amendment of errors” & “useful alterations” would be suggested by experience (Federalist No. 43 at 8.)

HERE are the Articles of Confederation. Note that Art. XIII required approval of amendments by every State.

HERE is the Resolution, made by the Continental Congress on February 21, 1787 (p 71-74), to call a convention to be held at Philadelphia:

“…for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation”.

HERE is James Madison’s letter of Nov. 2, 1788 to Turberville. Copy it to word processing, make paragraph breaks, & highlight it. Madison NEVER supported the convention method of amending our Constitution.

HERE is Joe Wolverton’s article about the Socialists’ involvement in the push for a convention.

HERE is the Constitution for the Newstates of America. Article XII addresses ratification by a referendum called by the President. Read HERE about the proposed Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. Read them and see what is being planned for you by people you think are on your side.

HERE is the screen shot of Jordan Sillars’ comment re re-writing the Constitution.

For Q’s & A’s on this issue, go HERE.

Endnotes:

1 There is no such thing as a “convention of states” to propose amendments. The term is a marketing gimmick used by proponents of an Article V convention to manipulate people into believing that the States would control an Article V convention – from start to finish.

Article V, US Constitution, provides two methods for proposing amendments to the Constitution:

1. Congress proposes amendments and submits them to the States for ratification [the method we used for our existing 27 Amendments]; or

2. Congress calls a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments [for good reason, we have never used this method].

2 Even though we have never had an Article V convention; Congress has examined procedures for “calling” a convention so as to be ready if the need arises. The CRS Report proves that Congress has historically viewed its powers respecting “calling” a convention as exclusive and extensive. I thank Robert Brown for bringing the CRS Report to my attention.

3 The position Congress has historically taken in this regard is totally consistent with Article I, Sec. 8, last clause, which delegates to Congress power to make all laws “necessary and proper” to carry out the power vested in Congress at Art. V to “call” the convention.

4 Folks! For the sake of your Posterity, you must understand this: After a convention is convened, the delegates can do whatever they want – including coming up with an entirely new Constitution with its own new method of ratification. Chief Justice Burger wrote in his June 22, 1988 letter to Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly:

“… 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 will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the Confederation Congress “for the sole and express purpose. . .”

The federal convention of 1787, which was called by the Continental Congress “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation”, should serve as a warning: The delegates to the 1787 convention ignored their instructions from the Continental Congress [and from their States]; ignored Art. XIII of the Articles of Confederation which required the States to obey Congress on matters covered by the Articles, and wrote an entirely NEW Constitution with a NEW method of ratification which required only 9 of the 13 States for ratification.

Credits:  Many thanks to Devvy Kidd, Blue Tail Gadfly, and M. Craig Elachie, from whom I lifted the very best lines in the speech. PH

Posted October 11, 2014.

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October 11, 2014 Posted by | Amendments to the Constitution, Article V, Article V Convention, constitutional convention, Convention of States project, Federal Convention of 1787, James Madison, Jordan Sillars, Liberty Amendments, Mark Levin, Michael Farris, Necessary and Proper clause, Phony right wing, re-writing the Constitution, Retained Powers, The Liberty Amendments | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

   

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