Monday, December 23, 2013

Don't Fubar the Constitution - No deals with Glenn Beck's con-con.

Don't Fubar the Constitution.

Anything you want to make significant changes to something, you have to prepare for unintended consequences. One of the most frustrating things I deal with in politics is when people with good intentions fail to see things coming that even a bat should see. 

There's a push from Mark Levin and Glenn Beck and some of their allies for what some call an Article V Convention of the States. While I respect Mark Levin as an attorney, (don't have much use for Glenn Beck), I can not disagree more with this push. My disagreement is to the point where it may significantly impact my vote in the primary if a state rep or state senator supports this extremely dangerous project.

Convention of States is the main site pushing for this. 

First off, this is Article V of the Constitution.

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. 

That is the original text. As far as conventions go, there isn't any history there under the current government. Anything Levin or Beck say is pure conjecture at best. That's the biggest danger. Anything could be on the table, just like what would happen with a full con-con. If 3/4 of the convention supports it, we could be in a bad way.

The original constitution came from a con-con that was supposed to "amend" the Articles of Confederation. Instead behind closed doors, they wrote a new constitution. That didn't just happen. That was the plan, at least by some like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. That's the only history we have in the US with anything close to a con-con. It was a whole new constitution.

The proponents of this "convention of states" say that there's four reasons why we need this project.

1. Spending and debt.
2. Regulatory issues.
3. Attacks on State Sovernity
4. Federal Takeovers.

There's a solution to all of these problems. Good elected officials. Get a new senate and president. The problems with government are caused by people. Any system is as good or bad as the people there. This group points at the federal agencies being a gigantic problem with regulations. They are right. They are. The problem is due to Nixon era congresses giving that power to these agencies. Congress gave the power away. It never took back the power of these admins to stop the regulations. That's the problem in the first place.

They close on that page by saying this.

This is not a partisan issue. Washington, D.C., will never voluntarily relinquish meaningful power—no matter who is elected.
We have elections for a reason. That's an assumption. A con-con won't change that assumption, because by their logic, these amendments won't change because they will be in DC (or DC will go to them). 

The only rational conclusion is this: unless some political force outside of Washington, D.C., intervenes, the federal government will continue to bankrupt this nation, embezzle the legitimate authority of the states, and destroy the liberty of the people. Rather than securing the blessings of liberty for future generations, Washington, D.C., is on a path that will enslave our children and grandchildren to the debts of the past.
There is a political force out of DC. Voters. That's the rational conclusion. DC has the power because people put them there. What difference will con-con representatives do when they draft these so called "amendments?" You're still dealing with a government class selected likely by politicians. Do you trust them?

They SAY that they can have a Article 5 Convention on a 'subject' and assume it would be limited to a subject.

1. We want to call a convention for a particular subject rather than a particular amendment. Instead of calling a convention for a balanced budget amendment (though we are entirely supportive of such an amendment), we want to call a convention for the purpose of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.

That can mean anything.  The key word is "purpose." Laws in Congress state a "purpose" all the time and do not always limit themselves to that purpose. Sometimes, it doesn't go near the supposed "purpose". Go back to Article V actual text, not what they think it is.

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

Valid to ALL intents and purposes. Once again, anything is on the table.

What Sorts of Amendments Could be Passed?
The following are examples of amendment topics that could be discussed at a convention of states:
  • A balanced budget amendment
  • A redefinition of the General Welfare Clause (the original view was the federal government could not spend money on any topic within the jurisdiction of the states)
  • A redefinition of the Commerce Clause (the original view was that Congress was granted a narrow and exclusive power to regulate shipments across state lines--not all the economic activity of the nation)
  • A prohibition of using international treaties and law to govern the domestic law of the United States
  • A limitation on using Executive Orders and federal regulations to enact laws (since Congress is supposed to be the exclusive agency to enact laws)
  • Imposing term limits on Congress and the Supreme Court
  • Placing an upper limit on federal taxation
  • Requiring the sunset of all existing federal taxes and a super-majority vote to replace them with new, fairer taxes

Of course, these are merely examples of what would be up for discussion. The convention of states itself would determine which ideas deserve serious consideration, and it will take a majority of votes from the states to formally propose any amendments.

I'll add these proposed amendments:

1. The Second Amendment shall be repealed and firearms shall be banned. (reduce BATF paperwork would "reduce government.")
2. Abortion is a fundamental right and all regulations against it shall be repealed.
3. With the passage of ACA/Obamacare and obesity being a major problem, harmful substances such as alcohol, soft drinks, and red meat shall be taxed at 50% to reduce costs. 

I can argue about any of those with the "purpose to limit government." It's not what this group has in mind.

The biggest problem however is this, and even their group admits it.

How Do States Choose Their Delegates?
States are free to develop their own selection process for choosing their delegates—properly called “commissioners.” Historically, the most common method used was an election by a joint session of both houses of the state legislature. 

That's the biggest problem of all. Who is actually going to vote on the amendments? Nobody has any idea.

This thing needs to be DOA. There are too many unintended consequences and too much potential for bad actors to destroy the constitution. Even if this succeeds, the results will always be as good as the people elected to office. The constitution as it is now should constrain bad reps. It doesn't. Why would this be different. Get rid of the bad reps, and you solve the problem. 

1 comment:

Conservative First said...

Amen. So many conservatives and Republicans have no sense of strategy. The constitution doesn't say how delegates would be apportioned or selected. It doesn't say that a convention can be limited to a single subject. Most of the amendments conservatives want would have no chance of passing. The 38th state by Obama percentage is Washington state. Ask yourself if these amendments would pass there. Term limits might. Most of the others would stand no chance, assuming they even got a vote.