Sunday, June 04, 2023

Constitutional Convention would be very risky

by Ed Regan
| November 27, 2022 12:00 AM

“I certainly would not want a Constitutional Convention. I mean whoa. Who knows what would come out of that.” — Justice Antonin Scalia, April 17, 2014.

Two hundred and thirty-five years ago America held its first and only Constitutional Convention. A new constitution was born in 1787. It is considered to be a one of the finest legal documents ever written. One par with the Magna Carta and believed by many to have been divinely inspired. Holding a new constitutional convention today, as some are suggesting, could end up being a disaster.

Again, on Dec. 8, 2015, Justice Scalia repeated his warning against a new convention when he warned the Federalist Society that “A Constitutional Convention is a horrible idea. This is not a good century to write a constitution”.

An organization calling themselves the Convention of States has been promoting the idea that the answer to all our nation’s problems can be solved by having 34 states apply to Congress under Article V to convene a Constitutional Convention (Con–Con). To persuade conservative state legislators into supporting the convention, COS has promised that a convention would be limited to a single issue, such as a balanced budget. Montana has voted no on a federal Con-Con every session since the mid-1980s. Dark money is being spent all over the United States promoting this bad idea. The only defense against this onslaught of propaganda has been private citizens working to inform their neighbors and representatives to oppose the convention.

We can expect another attempt to push this through the next session that begins in January of 2023. Voters need to be contacting their representatives before the session begins and let them know your views on the Con-Con.

Both sides of the aisle have their pet proposals for making changes to the Constitution. Partisan proposals include such topics as a balanced budget amendment, reigning in government, public financing of elections, abolish the electoral college and revisiting the Second Amendment.

In each instance the promoters claim that their proposed convention could be limited to a single issue. Since 1787 all 27 amendments to the Constitution have been passed without calling a convention.

Though some of these ideas may have merit, the problem with using the convention method in Article V is that is poses a danger to our existing form of government with all its checks and balances. The Congress in 1787 tried to limit the Philadelphia Convention, however the delegates ignored those instructions and ended up rewriting the Articles of Confederation giving us a completely new constitution and different structure of government. To gain approval for their new constitution the delegates even changed the ratification requirements from thirteen states to nine. A modern-day convention would have the same power to change everything. Conventions are sovereign bodies representing the people at large, it has power and scope that supersedes established governments. An Article V Convention cannot be limited.

While our nation was blessed to have men the caliber and character of Washington, Madison and Franklin back in 1787, can we trust putting the fate of our constitution, including the Second Amendment, in the hands of today’s politicians and special interests? James Madison, father of the Constitution, warned in 1788 that a second convention “would no doubt contain individuals with insidious views seeking to alter the very foundation and fabric of the Constitution.”

Unfortunately, the convention promoters keep resurfacing at the start of every legislative session. One can only assume they are trying to catch the new people off guard. However, once these representatives start to hear opposition from their home districts, they usually pay close attention and do what’s right.

Please help defeat the second convention Madison warned us about by contacting your representatives and registering your opposition to any joint resolution that might come up in the 2023 legislative session that calls for enacting an Article V Convention or a Conference of States (same meaning, semantic head fake).

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 20, 1982 President Ronald Reagan stated: “Well, constitutional conventions are kind of prescribed as a last resort, because then once it’s open, they could take up any number of things.”

Ed Regan lives in Townsend.

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