Skip to comments.A response to Rob Natelson’s Article V Constitutional Convention speculations
Posted on 09/03/2013 3:31:15 PM PDT by JOHN W K
The following is in response to Rob Natelsons article The Myth of a Runaway Amendments Convention which appeared in American Thinker on August 29th, 2013.
The truth is, Mr. Natelson does a whole lot of speculation himself, ignores historical facts which exhibit there is real cause to be concerned about calling a constitutional convention to re-write our Constitution, and purposely paints a misleading picture regarding Mark Levins call for an Article V convention.
Mr. Natelson wrote:
The Founders bequeathed Americans a method to bypass the federal government and amend the Constitution
This is factually incorrect. After the required number of state legislatures apply for a convention, it is Congress who calls the convention. Likewise, it is Congress who supposedly determines the mode of ratification of what comes out of the convention, and it would be our tyrannical Supreme Court who would pass upon constitutional arguments which may arise. Mr. Natelson is either intentionally and subtly misrepresenting the truth or overlooking the extraordinary manipulative powers which our federal government would have over a convention should one be called. Mr. Natelson wrote: Phyllis Schlafly is a great American and a great leader, but her speculations about the nature of the Constitution's "convention for proposing amendments" are nearly as quaint as Dante's speculations about the solar system. Those speculations simply overlook the last two decades of research into the background and subsequent history of the Constitution's amendment process. They also ignore how that process actually has worked, and how the courts elucidate it
Mr. Natelson ignores his own speculations regarding an Article V constitutional convention and likewise ignores research, such as my own and others, which were made known in the 1980s and which relied upon historical facts!
Mr. Natelson wrote:
The Founders provided, in Article V of the Constitution, for a "convention for proposing amendments." They did this to enable the people, acting through their state legislatures, to rein in an abusive or runaway federal government. In other words, the Founders created the convention for precisely the kind of situation we face now. Mr. Natelson speculates quite generously that our Founders anticipated the despotism and tyranny now rained down upon the people by their own state Legislatures and Governors who have been working in concert with our federal government to plunder the wealth which Americas businesses, industries and productive citizens have created. How many state Governors and Legislatures willingly accept money from our federal treasury for functions not authorized by our Constitutions legislative intent, which in turn not only enslaves those who receive such money but makes the state governments dependent upon the federal government's will? Did Mr. Natelson forget the wisdom of Hamilton who wrote the following maxim? A POWER OVER A MAN's SUBSISTENCE AMOUNTS TO A POWER OVER HIS WILL ____ Hamilton, No. 79 Federalist Papers
Mr. Natelson writes
Mrs. Schlafly doesn't think we know much else about the process. She writes, "Everything else about how an Article V Convention would function, including its agenda, is anybody's guess."
But she's wrong. There is no need to guess. We now know that:
The "convention for proposing amendments" was consciously modeled on federal conventions held during the century leading up to the Constitutional Convention, when states or colonies met together on average about every 40 months. These were meetings of separate governments, and their protocols were based on international practice. Those protocols were well-established and are inherent in Article V.
Once again Mr. Natelson speculates and assumes what took place prior to the adoption of our existing Constitution will be observed. And with regard to legislative intent, which he seems to be associating with protocols of the past, how many times has our federal government and state governments totally ignored legislative intent in order to impose their whims and fancies upon the people of the United States? Mr. Natelson foolishly suggests legislative intent would be adhered to during an Article V conventions process. Where was he when the legislative intent of our Constitution was trashed by the Supreme Court in the Kelo decision? Was he drawing up his propaganda to convince us to call another general convention to allow folks in government to re-write our Constitution?
Mr. Natelson writes:
Each federal convention has been called to address one or more discrete, prescribed problems. A convention "call" cannot determine how many delegates ("commissioners") each state sends or how they are chosen. That is a matter for each state legislature to decide.
The truth is, subsequent to our existing Constitution being ratified, there has never been an article V convention called and our Constitution is silent on the number of delegates each state may send to a convention. But note, our existing Constitution commands representation in Congress is to be by an apportionment based upon population size. Why would our large progressive states like California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania or Massachusetts not be entitled to representation in an Article V convention by the rule of apportionment? And if they are, could they not steamroll their progressive agenda through the convention and force it upon the entire United States by adopting a rule for ratification in which a simple majority vote in the Senate is all that is needed for ratification? Even worse, could they not require a simple majority vote of the people to effectuate a new constitution, and hail their new government as the peoples democracy, in which 51 percent of the voters would be left free to vote away the property and liberties of the remaining 49 percent of the nations population.
I point the above out because the Delegates sent to the Convention in 1787 ignored the Articles of Confederation, which were then in effect, and by its very wording was forbidden to be altered but by a unanimous consent of the States. Instead of following the Articles of Confederation which required a unanimous consent by the States to be altered, the Delegates arbitrarily decided that the new constitution and new government they created would become effective if a mere nine States ratified what they did. Is this precedent to be ignored if Mark Levin gets his way and an Article V convention is called?
The bottom line is, there are many un-answered questions regarding the process if an Article V convention is called. But one thing is certain, our existing federal and state governments, the very people who now cause our miseries and ignore our constitutions, would be in total charge of Mr. Levins convention, and they would be given the legal opportunity to make constitutional that which is now unconstitutional, and fundamentally transform the system of government our founding fathers worked to achieve. Perhaps this is why James Madison wrote the following in response to calling an Article V convention:
You wish to know my sentiments on the project of another general Convention as suggested by New York. I shall give them to you with great frankness .3. If a General Convention were to take place for the avowed and sole purpose of revising the Constitution, it would naturally consider itself as having a greater latitude than the Congress appointed to administer and support as well as to amend the system; it would consequently give greater agitation to the public mind; an election into it would be courted by the most violent partizans on both sides; it wd. probably consist of the most heterogeneous characters; would be the very focus of that flame which has already too much heated men of all parties; would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who under the mask of seeking alterations popular in some parts but inadmissible in other parts of the Union might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundationsof the fabric. Under all these circumstances it seems scarcely to be presumeable that the deliberations of the body could be conducted in harmony, or terminate in the general good. Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of America, and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned. .I am Dr. Sir, Yours Js. Madison Jr ___See Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 25 March 1, 1788-December 31, 1789, James Madison to George Turberville
At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a Mrs. Powel anxiously awaited the results and as Benjamin Franklin emerged from the long task now finished asked him directly, `Well, Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?' `A republic, if you can keep it,' responded Franklin.
Why would we honor a new constitution if we won’t honor the one we have?
Seems pretty clear to me that any convention would be hijacked by the same thugs now using slower means of stealing the last remnants of Liberty in this country.
Maybe that’s not a bad thing, though. We seem to all be ok with the “boiling the frog” approach that’s been uses for the last few decades.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Good luck. Is this the same Natelson who taught law at the University of Montana? If so, this is going to be a fun thread to watch.
Looks to be the same guy.
A convention under control of the “we have to pass it to see whats in it” crowd is a very very bad idea.
Or a very very good idea for the proponents of CWII.
Fundamentally, what's needed more than anything is a recognition that while the law will be whatever the Supreme Court says it is when the Supreme Court is acting legitimately, and while actions of the Supreme Court should generally be presumed legitimate, it is nonetheless the right and duty of every citizen to recognize the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and recognize that any Supreme Court decision which is not consistent with any reasonable reading of the Constitution must as a consequence be illegitimate.
Additionally, I think there needs to be more clarity on the distinguishing between actions which are legitimate, and actions which are illegitimate but for which no reasonable remedy exists. A government employee who makes a bona fide effort to engage in genuinely-legitimate actions may be entitled to a reasonable presumption of good faith even if his actions aren't 100% perfect. By contrast, one who acts in ways that are illegitimate, but deliberately seeks to ensure that no remedy will be possible, demonstrates bad faith. Court which find such bad faith should go to greater-than-normal lengths to find a remedy.
If the America People do not rise up and defend their existing Constitution and the intentions and beliefs under which it was adopted, who is left to do so but the very people it was designed to control and regulate?
Who would attend Marks Levin's Article V Convention? Good question!
During the 1984 New Hampshire Convention to alter its State Constitution, which was challenged in U.S. District Court, of the 400 delegates 64 were attorneys, eight were judges, four were state senators, and 113 were state representatives and there were two legislative lobbyists .the very people who are now causing our misery!
The suit went on to charge there has been over 175 lawyers, judges, senators and representatives out of the total of 400 constitutional convention (delegates) elected, (who) are already holding a pubic office both in the legislature and judicial branches in violation of the separation of powers doctrine, and this count does not include wives and immediate family members who have been elected on their behalf.
Seems pretty clear that the very scum who now cause our sufferings would find their way into a Constitutional Convention.
Madison was absolutely correct when he warned us that an election into a second convention would be courted by the most violent partisans on both sides; it wd. probably consist of the most heterogeneous characters; would be the very focus of that flame which has already too much heated men of all parties; would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who under the mask of seeking alterations popular in some parts but inadmissible in other parts of the Union might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundations of the fabric
Reaching across the aisle and bipartisanship is Washington Newspeak to subvert the Constitution and screw the American People.
So have you tried to call Mark Levin and debate this with him on his show?
A few people have asked, "Why not another constitutional convention?" ... One of the most serious problems Article V poses is a runaway convention. There is no enforceable mechanism to prevent a convention from reporting out wholesale changes to our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Moreover, the absence of any mechanism to ensure representative selection of delegates could put a runaway convention in the hands of single-issue groups whose self-interest may be contrary to our national well-being. ___ U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, writing an op-ed piece in the Miami Herald in 1986
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