Article V Bait and Switch

The Article V Convention Bait and Switch

Be on the lookoutfor promotersusing things we care about, like the National Debt, Term Limits, etc. as bait to try to lure people into helpingpersuade state legislators to request an Article V Convention to amend the Constitution.  After enough states request an Article V Convention, and Congress calls it, then comes the switch.  The Article V Convention can be used to install an entirely new,substitute constitution with a new method of ratification that does not even involve the states. It is reminiscent of the famous statement by Nancy Pelosi, that you have to pass it to find out what is in it.  (Several groups already have substitute constitutions ready and waiting for this opportunity.)

Here are two questions to ask the Article V Convention promoters.  We have been asking, and we haven’t gotten any good answers.:

1.  How do you know that an Article V Convention will not result in an entirely new constitution with an entirely new method of ratification?

We know that an Article V convention would be able to completely rewrite the Constitution and even change the method of ratification, because its delegates could rely on the same clause in the Declaration of Independence that was relied on for that same purpose when the present Constitution was adopted.  The Declaration of Independence says, “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”.The Declaration of Independence has not been overturned by any later law.  It still sets forth our well-established, God-given rights that are above any man-made law.

This means that an Article V Convention would have the authority to institute new Government – establish an entirely new Constitution with an entirely new method of ratification, just as occurred when the current Constitution was adopted.  Under the Articles of Confederation, all 13 states had to agree to any amendment before it could take effect, but, when the delegates got together to amend the Articles of Confederation, they wrote an entirely new Constitution which required only 9 of the 13 states to ratify in order for it to take effect.  In Federalist No. 40, James Madison cited the Declaration of Independence as providing the authority to replace the Articles of Confederation with a new Constitution having a new method of ratification.  We can expect that any substitute constitution coming out of an Article V convention also could use a new method for ratification, such as a national vote, which would eliminate the requirement for ratification by the states.

2.         On what legal basis do you know that the states would control an Article V convention?

The Article V promoters claim to know everything about the procedures that will be used inan Article VConvention, but that is not possible.  There never has been an Article V convention in our nation’s history, so nobody knows what would happen if such a convention were called.  There are only a few written rules that govern such a convention.  First, under Article V of the Constitution, if two-thirds of the state legislatures apply, Congress shall call a Convention.  The Constitution does not say that the states shall call a convention.  In accordance with the Constitution, the convention will be called by the U.S. Congress.  The Constitution also gives Congress the power to make laws as needed to carry out its constitutional responsibilities, which means Congress would determine how many delegates would go to the convention and how the delegates would be selected.  Congress could, for example, pass a law saying that thecurrent members of the U.S. House of Representatives would be the convention delegates. 

So what can we do?

If we care about the National Debt and other issues of government overreach, we should insist that the government live within the constraints of the existing Constitution.  We should elect Senators and Representatives who pledge to do that and then hold them to their word.  If we want to amend the Constitution, we should follow the normal amendment procedureunder Article V that always has been used in the past, in which Congress votes for the amendment, and the states then ratify it.  This procedure is clearly-definedandensures that any amendment has broad acceptance before it goes into force.  It also has a clear mechanism for ratification that cannot be changed by surprise. It does not carry the great risks of an Article V Convention.

There is no quick fix for our problems. We must not allow ourselves to fall for the Article V Convention bait and switch.The entire legal foundation of our country is at stake.

There is a huge push to get Kentucky to be the next state to request an Article V Convention.  The promoters are spending a lot of money on organization and lobbyists.Please contact your state legislators and let them know you oppose an Article V Convention.