A valuable debate is waging in America, and here at Freedom Outpost. Should America follow the path of the Convention of States or that of Nullification? The United States Constitution and the American system of governance are at stake. I do not have an axe to grind with my fellow writers who may disagree with my positions. I respect their right to their learned opinions. Yet, I dissent, and I will not be brief.
I am a Conservative and a strong supporter of the US Constitution. For 100 years, our government (both parties) has trampled uncaringly over this honored document. It has left American citizens of all ideologies worried and the beast comprised of 320 million is now restless. This is a good thing. Moreover, so is healthy and honest debate.
The Convention of States (COS) is a movement (granted by Article 5 of the US Constitution) designed to restore government adherence to limited and enumerated powers of the US Constitution. The movement and its leaders, patriotic American men and women, now endure disparaging allegations designed to weaken public support for their proposals to amend the US Constitution.
Opponents of the COS call the movement a scam, designed to “re-write the Constitution” and instead demand strict adherence and enforcement of the US Constitution. However, I wonder what version of the Constitution they wish to have enforced?
Opponents of a COS would have Americans blindly swallow the myth that the US Constitution is a perfect document created by divinely influenced men (not women) that has never seen modification or revision. This is a fallacious contention. From its litigious birth, the US Constitution experienced numerous modifications and AMENDMENTS designed to augment vagaries and weaknesses in our laws.
The 18th century process of creating and ratifying—our founder’s first version of the US Constitution—took years of hard fought debates. From September 1787 through January of 1791—during the Constitution’s ratification process—anti-federalist opponents refused to support ratification of the original US Constitution as they believed the original document to be weak on states’ rights and personal freedoms.
Added to assuage anti-federalist’s concerns and garner support for ratification, the Bill of Rights (the first TEN AMENDMENTS to the Constitution) was adopted in December of 1791. These TEN AMENDMENTS guaranteed limited federal government power, protected citizens’ personal freedoms and strengthened states sovereignty and rights to self-determination.
A recent article at Freedom Outpost implied George Mason—recognized along with James Madison as a “Father of our Bill of Rights” for his co-authoring of these TEN AMENDMENTS—lacks credibility as a founder. Somehow, opponents are now striving to discredit Mason—by citing his refusal to sign the Constitution—as cause to reject Mason.
Absent from these contentions is Mason’s reason for refusing to add his name to the Constitution. Mason’s refusal, in part, stemmed from his belief our original document did not go far enough to protect the supremacy of individual and states’ rights. Remember only ten of Mason and Madison’s twelve proposed AMENDMENTS were adopted as our beloved Bill of Rights.
Do opponents of a modern day Convention of States believe we should discard these TEN AMENDMENTS because they were not part of our founders original Constitution? Alternatively, are they suggesting we cherry pick amendments they find unappealing (eleven through twenty-seven) using “nullification”. Perhaps opponents of a Convention of States would care to define with specificity the version of the US Constitution deserving of their respectful enforcement.
Moral corruptions connection to tyranny cannot be denied. Human moral corruption has existed prior to our founding. The acceptance of slave ownership and trade, a moral compromise made at Americas 18th century Constitutional Convention would take a 19th century constitutional AMENDMENT to begin to heal slaveries moral inequity once accepted as law.
The 19th AMENDMENT to the US Constitution, a 20th century departure from respect for the original version of our founders constitution, gave women the right to vote and cured another moral inequity or tyrannical practice supported by many of our founders.
Opponents of a COS take the leadership of this movement to task by alleging a hidden agenda to “re-write” the Constitution. As a supporter of the COS movement and activist for the cause, I feel an obligation to make the record clear.
The COS has “PROPOSED” (or suggested) amendments to be considered at a constitutional convention and the COS movement, and its membership has not been chosen to any potential delegation that may take place. The movement is simply offering a template to America. For anyone to imply that Michael Farris or his staff will determine the content of proposed amendments, is ludicrous.
Like our original Constitution and the TWENTY SEVEN AMENDMENTS our government adopted to date, these proposals will be vetted, modified and supplemented. Their value and legitimacy will have to clear the hurdle of a two thirds state delegation approval vote before even being considered for ratification which then requires three fourths of state delegations to vote to ratify their adoption into the US Constitution. Article 5 of the US Constitution established this process.
No one American has the power to control a Convention of States. It is by the will of the people, through their chosen delegations, that these amendments are offered for consideration. Individual state processes for delegation selection may differ, but the fact remains, one man or woman will never be granted the power in a Convention of States to define those amendments. That power rests with delegations chosen by citizens or their elected state legislatures, not by me, Michael Farris, Mark Levin or Jeremy Sillers. If pursued, this process will take years.
I am not going to defend Mr. Farris, Sillers or Levin. Their words and writing belong to them as mine belong to me alone. However, I would like to remind Americans; at one time Mark Levin opposed a Convention of States. His book “The Liberty Amendments” offers his well thought out conversion. He can defend himself. Likewise, Michael Farris, a constitutional lawyer, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, is not a quacking ideologue. He too can defend his words and actions without my help.
The article mentioned above rightly takes Americans to task for ignoring their responsibilities to elect honorable leadership and for failing to learn and understand our founding principles and laws. I agree. I would also like to add to that sentiment by reminding Americans of their historically deficient voter participation. Cumulative statistics prove that less than 70% of Americans vote in national elections and less than 40% participate in local contests. We the people have confirmed our apathetic tendencies and our federal government is feeding insatiably off them.
Opponents of a Convention of States suggest state governments are responsible for federal intrusion by accepting unconstitutional laws (which demand nullification) in exchange for federal subsidies to the states, therefore, surrendering sovereignty. In part, I agree. However, given abysmal citizen engagement of their state governments on these types of issues, I am inclined to plant that failure squarely at the feet of Americans. Government works for us and we have done a lousy job of reminding them of that fact by sitting out the process for selfish reasons.
The author of the Freedom Outpost article I mentioned (whose writing I do respect) is an attorney. Her article left me with the veiled suggestion that consideration of constructional changes to the US Constitution should be left to those formally educated in law. I adamantly disagree.
The beauty of our Constitution’s imperfect convergence was not created by scholarly lawyers alone. It involved statesmen of varied backgrounds, ideologies, religions and education levels. Given the dismal record litigators own in America, I think Americans would emphatically support a little less lawyer-ing.
I would also suggest writers seeking to question the intentions of their worthy adversaries to do so out in the open. Personally, I question the credibility of critics who choose convenient anonymity. If you believe what you say, present your case for character assassination in person. It would be viewed as honorable.
In closing, I will not debate the founder’s intents. Anyone who has read the Declaration of Independence and ample correspondence and speeches given during the creation and ratification of our original constitution understands original intent. It is clear that the federal government was restricted to limited powers with the balance residing with the states and their citizens. If I am not mistaken that includes supporters of a Convention of States, not just anonymous advocates supporting the supremacy of nullification.
The “Convention of States” is not a subversive movement seeking to hijack the US Constitution. It is a gathering of Patriots, recruiting and organizing our citizenry, in support of taking back our Constitution and Federal government, through an Article 5 convention, by will of the people and publicly approved amendments. To suggest that amending the US Constitution is irresponsible flies in the face of not only our Republics history, but also our founder’s actions. I find that a little, as they say, silly.
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