Republican hegemony, what could go wrong? Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

While controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress is nice, the Holy Grail of politics for many conservatives would be to assemble a constitutional convention — and now they are really close.

After all, any laws the GOP-dominated Congress passes next year and sends to President Donald Trump for his signature would still have to overcome pesky problems such as procedural hurdles in the Senate and a constitutional review by the courts. So wouldn’t it be nice to be able to skip that step and amend the Constitution directly without involving Washington politicians?

That dream is now within reach. When the state legislatures elected last week will convene, Republicans will control 33 of them. According to Article V of the Constitution, they only need one more to call for a constitutional convention.

While proponents of such a gathering proclaim that its scope could be limited to, for example, a balanced budget amendment or congressional term limits, nobody is actually sure how such a convention would work and what would happen.

And that should frighten Americans.

Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott proposed nine amendments he would like to introduce at a constitutional convention. For example, he wants a two-thirds majority of the states to override a Supreme Court decision or any federal law or regulation. Abbott also proposes that a seven-justice supermajority is required for Supreme Court decisions “that invalidate a democratically elected law.”

But what does all of that mean? Could states bring back segregation? What if a federal law only affects a handful of states? And what if the Supreme Court is missing a justice, as it has for nearly a year? Then any crazy state law would need to be unanimously rejected to be overturned.

Speaking of that Supreme Court vacancy, the late Antonin Scalia, certainly no fan of giving the federal government too much power, said this about a constitutional convention in 2014: “I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. I mean whoa. Who knows what would come out of that?”

It should be noted that such a convention would only be the first step. Any amendments approved there would still have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. While that sounds like a lot more, it is not. To reach that magical number, Republicans only need to win five more. And, in light of their proven ability to gerrymander and suppress the vote, it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility for them to get there.

If they do, then the party of constitutional constructionists would find themselves in a position to tear up the old Constitution and write themselves a new one.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Elephant (Alex Krasavtsev / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), FDR Bust (Mark Goebel / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), Capitol (Library of Congress), Supreme Court (Library of Congress), White House (Department of Defense), Porcelain (Jorge Royan / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0), China cabinets (jarmoluk / Pixabay), Porcellana di wedgwood (Sailko / Wikimedia – CC BY 3.0), Darts (Mesut Sahin / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), US Map (Dave Winer / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), Benjamin Franklin (National Portrait Gallery / Wikimedia), Thomas Jefferson (White House Historical Association / Wikimedia), George Washington (link / Wikimedia) and Alexander Hamilton (Museum of Fine Arts / Wikimedia).


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from George Washington (link / Wikimedia)

print

0 0 votes
Article Rating
48 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stoney DeVille
Stoney DeVille
4 years ago

The movement is for a Convention of States, not a Con Con.
Convention representatives from each state will be appointed by the democratically elected state legislators who then could discuss only those subjects at the convention approved by their state. Only items agreed to by 2/3 of the states at the convention would then go back to the states for public debate and ratification. 3/4s of the states would have to ratify before any amendment would become part of our great US constitution. You see, there is no chance for oppressive or radical amendments to make it into our constitution because nothing that 3/4s of Americans agree on is oppressive or radical. This is a great thing for both parties, all states, and all citizens.

uncommon sense
uncommon sense
4 years ago
Reply to  Stoney DeVille

There is NO SUCH THING as a “convention of states.” Article V CLEARLY states that CONGRESS shall propose amendments OR CONGRESS shall call a convention. There is NO SUCH THING as a “convention of states.”

Under Article V, the only power states have is to ASK Congress to call a convention. That’s it. NOTHING in Article V says States have the power to call, convene, control, limit, a “convention” for the purposes of amending the Constitution.

Even Phyllis Schlafly warned about the liars pushing for a fictional “convention of states.”

Dave Swenson
Dave Swenson
4 years ago
Reply to  uncommon sense

“or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention” Learn to read. Two thirds of the states can call a convention.

uncommon sense
uncommon sense
4 years ago
Reply to  Dave Swenson

Wrong, stupid. Read that entire sentence, you moron.

You can’t take a sentence fragment and make it into a solid statement.

“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…”

I’ll break it down for you, dummy:

The CONGRESS….shall propose amendments….

When? Whenever 2/3 of both houses shall deem it necessary.

OR

The CONGRESS…shall call a convention…

When? On the application of the legislatures of 2/3 of the several states.

Your sentence fragment makes no sense, you distinct imbecile.

Learn to read, indeed.

Stoney DeVille
Stoney DeVille
4 years ago
Reply to  uncommon sense

Please read article V.

uncommon sense
uncommon sense
3 years ago
Reply to  Stoney DeVille

I’ve read it. Maybe you should. Here you go:

Article V

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; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Now for a lesson on reading comprehension.

“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,”

What does that say?

The CONGRESS shall propose amendments.
-When? Whenever 2/3 of both houses shall deem it necessary.

OR

The CONGRESS shall call a convention.
-When? On the application of the legislatures of 2/3 of the several states.

So, who can call a convention? Congress! What can states do? ASK congress to call one.

The only reference to state conventions in the text of Article V has to do specifically with RATIFICATION and even that method would only happen if CONGRESS chooses it.

You’re welcome.

Justin Graziano
Justin Graziano
4 years ago
Reply to  Stoney DeVille

It doesn’t matter what regular Americans agree upon. It matters what big money agrees upon. Because big money is what decides those legislative seats.

Paul Raymond
Paul Raymond
4 years ago

The Article V convention calls that we are after do NOT attack any powers of any state, even deep blue ones. What we are aiming for is to limit the power of the federal government.

David S
David S
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Raymond

And what makes you think that anyone who will organize and oversee such a convention will give a damn what you want or what “we are aiming for?” Not to be mean or anything, but YOU and I are NOT represented by anyone in government. Big business interests are represented, along with the interests of the ruling global elites, their bankster friends, and the cartels that make money from death and destruction. The first Constitutional Convention destroyed the power of the states over what they had under the Articles of Confederation and another such gathering will consolidate power further, with new wording that will present little to no recourse for us peons. And why would the state legislatures pass such legislation? Because they are owned by the same people and nearly all aspire to federal power positions.

ClymerCliff
ClymerCliff
4 years ago

What a farce. Article V is a very well protected technique for state legislatures to balance the power now monopolized in DC. This was the last action taken by the Constitutional Congress and passed unanimously. Over 400 of these applications have been passed in our history including the first two by Virginia and New York requiring the Bill of Rights. State conventions were very common in colonial days and still take place today.

This convention has NO power. It can only pass PROPOSALS. After the convention these passed proposals are sent back to all 50 states for ratification. No state legislature is required to take action on any of these proposals. If 38 states (75 out of 99 state houses) of these do ratify any of these proposals then it would become an amendment. Inversely if 13 (out of 99) state houses don’t even debate or call for a vote the item does not ratify.

Bring the power back to your state, community, and We the People. DC will never fix itself.
Check out the convention of states website to encourage your state legislator to support this process.

Resolution includes:
(a) Impose fiscal restraints on the Federal Government.
(b) Limit the power and jurisdiction of the Federal Government.
(c) Limit the terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress.

uncommon sense
uncommon sense
4 years ago
Reply to  ClymerCliff

Article V says CONGRESS shall call a convention, NOT the states.

There is no such thing as a “convention of states.” It is a lie being pushed by closet statists to trick you into supporting a Con-Con.

David S
David S
4 years ago

The first Constitutional Convention was simply supposed to be a gathering to address the supposed problems with the Articles of Confederation. What came out of it was the foundation for the powerful and destructive central government we now suffer under today. Be careful what you wish for. Freedom lovers will NOT be invited to the convention. Despite Trump’s win, 90+% of incumbents at the federal, state, and local levels won re-election – and THEY are the swamp that needs draining. They are the ones who are owned and controlled by the big business crony-capitalists that have mutated this country and its laws in their favor. They own both major political parties and nearly all the elected folks in them. THEY will be the ones going to the convention. Liberty lovers will be restricted to “free speech zones” miles away from the gathering and the military will happily enforce the freedom-free zone around the site. What we are plagued with is a national and global disgrace, but at least some procedural hurdles pretend to stand in the way of 100% tyranny. We the people need to withdraw our support and consent to be governed by the system we now have in place. Until WE change our perspective on the two-party oligarchy, nothing will ever change.

Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
4 years ago
Reply to  David S

Simply a gathering, huh? You must be one of those Common Core history teachers. If there’s a danger to the Republic, it’s people who use their own ignorance to manipulate the reason of others.

Holly Anderson
Holly Anderson
4 years ago

America is on the road now to extinction. A Brexit will come out of all of this malarky in the US. States will want to break from the US. Many people, as in the Soviet Union, could wake up in the US and be told by their ‘box’ that the country is now over.

Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
4 years ago
Reply to  Holly Anderson

I don’t think so, Holly… we are a stronger nation than that, and we’ve survived a lot worse. The rabble-rousers will get over it, or they won’t… and if they don’t, may God have mercy on their souls. Back in 18-whatever when Texas tried to secede from the Union, the Court ruled then and it still stands today that there are only two ways for a state to unilaterally secede… one is with the consent of all the other states, and the other is by violent revolution. Unanimous consent is a theoretical fantasy, and revolution only works if you win.

billwalker
billwalker
4 years ago
Reply to  David S

Just for historic reference: There were four things the confederation was supposed to do and everyone living at that time agreed it was capable of doing none of them. As to being “invited” federal law mandates delegates be elected. You want to be “invited?” Run for office.

David S
David S
4 years ago
Reply to  billwalker

And how are freedom loving small government power-supporting, liberty supporting, states-rights supporting candidates doing in elections these days? Yeah, exactly. I would rather see the federal government come to an end completely rather than allow Pandora’s Box to be opened by the current crop of criminals in power nationwide.

billwalker
billwalker
4 years ago
Reply to  David S

Given the fact that we’ve never operated under the United States Constitution, THE FULL CONSTITUTION which includes conventions called when mandated, in the entire history of our nation, I would say such candidates are doing just fine. They have managed to enact 11 sets of applications, meaning 11 conventions. Plenty of time to revise the nation other than by your proposal of civil war which is, whether you intend it or meant it, what you propose. As to those people being criminals, please provide actual proof, i.e., evidence. You are aware of the fact that under the law you have a right to present such evidence directly to a grand jury (federal or state) correct? So if you have proof why haven’t you stepped up to the plate and presented it and have them thrown in jail?

mcsandberg
mcsandberg
4 years ago

A constitutional convention isn’t dangerous at all. Anything that comes out of it still has to be ratified by three fourths of the states. That’s a mighty high barrier!

I would like to see Judge Narragansett’s amendment “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade.” https://www.theobjectivestandard (dot) com/2013/05/judge-narragansetts-solution-to-congress-shady-trading/ adopted.

David S
David S
4 years ago
Reply to  mcsandberg

The income tax, the direct election of US Senators (and the undermining of state legislative power and representation), and alcohol prohibition all got through (if you believe the official story – which I do not) within a few years of each other. Given the propaganda machine today, the crony-capitalist control of BOTH major parties and nearly every elected official from the two major parties, I could see plenty of horrible things managing to get approved. The ruling elite have been quite shaken up by Trump’s victory. Who knows what they have in store for the uppity slaves.

Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
4 years ago
Reply to  David S

Well, you’re being misinformed, David…

Given that the very purpose of this amendments convention, and the only reason that the states are signing on to the movement, is to reduce the size, scope and jurisdiction of the federal government, we believe that it’s a safe and logical conclusion that the 34 states needed to convene the assembly will ensure that only good, strong, constitutional conservatives who are well-versed in Originalism, either duly-elected or democratically appointed, will make up the vast majority of delegate / commissioners in attendance.

We subscribe to the Reagan Doctrine of “Trust but Verify”… according to the bills that I have seen discussed in several of the current applicant states, each delegate or commissioner will attend under the exclusive authority and strict limitations of a specifically directed sworn mandate from their state legislature. Commissioners will be closely monitored throughout the entire proceeding, remaining subject to immediate recall, replacement and imposition of heavy legal penalties should they fail to perform as mandated.

Just as the Second Amendment secures the right of the individual to defend himself against an intruder, so does Article V secure the right of society to defend itself against an intrusive government.

David S
David S
4 years ago

And the Amendment process was the only way the Constitution was to be altered. How’s that working out? I know what it says on paper and I know what I see in real life. Sorry, I put NO faith in government whatsoever and most certainly NO faith in either of the two worthless major parties. In 240 years liberty and freedom have ONLY decreased and the power and violence of government has ONLY increased. All with these states playing a role and with a Constitution in place that was supposed to prevent it.

mcsandberg
mcsandberg
4 years ago

A constitutional convention isn’t dangerous at all. Anything that comes out of it still has to be ratified by three fourths of the states. That’s a mighty high barrier!

I would like to see Judge Narragansett’s amendment “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade.”

Holly Anderson
Holly Anderson
4 years ago
Reply to  mcsandberg

It would be a high barrier if they were ‘states’ but they are not, they are colonies of the US. And this means that whoever leads them will make the decisions for the corporate powers.

mcsandberg
mcsandberg
4 years ago
Reply to  Holly Anderson

The States haven’t been reduced to mere administrative units of the federal government yet. Look at how many states have nullified federal drug laws. It won’t be long before an oil producing state simply ignores the EPA’s nonsense, assuming Trump leaves much of it….

bill66
bill66
4 years ago
Reply to  Holly Anderson

For someone who hates the US… you are consumed with it. 80% of your comments are about it. You have a liberal mentality…obsessed… diaper pin and play dough… under-educated. Our nation urges you to keep out.

David Macko
David Macko
4 years ago

Except for repeal of the 16th and 17th amendments, abolition of the Federal Reserve System and restriction of Congress to issuing only gold or silver or platinum money, modification of the Electoral College to vote by Congressional districts and establishment of instant runoff voting and paper ballots, the Constitution is not the problem. What we need to do is start enforcing it again. Even with the improvement in our situation, a Constitutional Convention is still extremely dangerous. We don’t want to lose the many good parts.

beauwillie
beauwillie
4 years ago
Reply to  David Macko

I encourage you to do a bit of research. Technically, and for the most part, the
Constitution is being enforced. You probably think the Constitution is the four page broadsheet document that came out of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (supplemented a bit later with the Bill of Rights). But that is no longer the case. The Constitution has become whatever the SCOTUS says it is and currently their view is documented in a 3000+ page document published by the Government Printing Office entitled “The Constitution of the United States Annotated.” The only rational way to restore the Constitution and our freedom to a semblance of what the Founders intended is through am Article V amending convention that can reverse the damage that over a century of progressive activism has garnered. The needed amendments will never come from the Washington political establishment

ohminus
ohminus
4 years ago
Reply to  beauwillie

It’s cute when someone claims to speak for the Founders while spitting in the face of the very institutions they established and denying them the authority which the Founders assigned to them.

Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
4 years ago
Reply to  David Macko

That’s what this is all about, David… mandatory enforcement. And that would apply to the Executive, to Congress, and to the worst violator of them all, the Supreme Court, who not only amends the Constitution every session, it does so outside the purview of the amendment process as defined in Article V.

Now, THAT’S dangerous!

Joel Turrentine
Joel Turrentine
4 years ago

I guess I’d like to get more details in this article. What is your typical reader like here? I wouldn’t mind a little more explanation for these changes. Is it simply to fight current laws? Which specifically? The paragraph mentioning Texas Gov. Abbott is helpful to an extent, but there needs to be more clarity on the agenda.

Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
4 years ago

I’m with you, Joel… luckily, there are two sides to every story.

Diana Lee
Diana Lee
4 years ago

Esquire has published a similar article. If GOP leaders are considering a constitutional convention to “rewrite” the constitution, it could match the goals of activists called dominionists and reconstructionists that have arisen from within evangelical fundamentalism and the far right GOP. They are politically very powerful and have unlimited financial resources. Their goal is to rewrite the constitution to conform with Old Testament law. [patriarchy, anti-gay, violent, controlling, sociopathic]

Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
4 years ago
Reply to  Diana Lee

Nope… different group.

Holly Anderson
Holly Anderson
4 years ago
Reply to  Diana Lee

Yes, they scream about Sharia law and they wish to use the convention, if it occurs, to make the US into a Christian state, officially.

bill66
bill66
4 years ago
Reply to  Holly Anderson

Un-education seems to be a theme with you. Citizens of the US have the right to practice any religion at any time… or none at all. There is no “christian state”.

beauwillie
beauwillie
4 years ago

The writer of the above commentary is either deliberately misleading the readers or Is obviously historically illiterate. If he wished to gain an acquaintance with the truth and do his homework, he would learn that the Scalia view he cites was in reference to a plenipotentiary convention, not an Article V amending convention (See Black’s law dictionary for distinctions). As to an Article V
amending convention, Scalia said, “The Founders inserted this alternative method of obtaining constitutional amendments because they knew the Congress would be unwilling to give attention to many issues the people are concerned. I would like to see that amendment process used.” – Antonin Scalia, 5.23.1979, AEI

msdangermousse
msdangermousse
4 years ago
Reply to  beauwillie

Details differ. But the facts are that such a thing is within the realm of possibility. I only bet on the ponies though so I’m not making any bets. Kudos to you though, reading Black’s Law.

beauwillie
beauwillie
4 years ago
Reply to  msdangermousse

Pliable and wishful thinking cannot alter the reality of stubborn facts.

Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
4 years ago
Reply to  msdangermousse

No, mouse… the details are the same… it’s the interpretations that differ.

Just as the Second Amendment secures the right of the individual to defend himself against an intruder, so does Article V secure the right of society to defend itself against an intrusive government.

msdangermousse
msdangermousse
4 years ago

Read my profile, did you?

Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
4 years ago
Reply to  msdangermousse

???

abeitling
abeitling
4 years ago

Corporations are the ones pushing for such constitutional revisions because it empowers them even more, I’m thinking.

billwalker
billwalker
4 years ago

I’ve always noticed on the Internet that the bigger the lie the more likely those writing it (1) do not use their real names and (2) never post an email address where they can be contacted. That said, to the “substance” of the article.

The facts are:
(1) Congress is currently counting the applications. They have reached 35 based on applications made long before the “scary” 33 state legislatures existed.
(2) The states have satisfied the two thirds mark on 11 different occasions again long before the 33 state legislatures existed. In other words regardless of party states have been demanding a convention since 1910.

David S
David S
4 years ago
Reply to  billwalker

That would coincide with the horrible and destructive Progressive Era of American politics. As if those folks didn’t do enough damage with the income tax, the Federal Reserve, the direct election of US Senators, and alcohol prohibition (and so much more).

Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
4 years ago
Reply to  David S

So, David… if you don’t like it, amend it.

Good thing that neither you nor the stealth “author” or this “article” (scare quotes intended) weren’t around when the Bill of Rights was being debated.

Just as the Second Amendment secures the right of the individual to defend himself against an intruder, so does Article V secure the right of society to defend itself against an intrusive government.

uncommon sense
uncommon sense
4 years ago

I guess you’ve never heard of the 9th and 10th amendments, huh?

That’s because you are really a big government hack.

Holly Anderson
Holly Anderson
4 years ago
Reply to  billwalker

A lie can travel around the world while the truth is still lacing its shoes.

Subscribe to the Daily WhoWhatWhy

Relevant, in-depth journalism delivered to you.
Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.