Article Five of the U.S. Constitution describes the process the Constitution may be amended. There are two ways – first, by a supermajority of Congress and second, by two-thirds (34) of the states calling for an Article Five convention. The U.S. Constitution has never been amended by a state-called convention. All 17 amendments to the founding document were done through the legislative process and then ratified by the states.
Some well-known conservatives are calling for an Article Five constitutional convention for the purpose of dealing with two issues, a balanced budget amendment and term limits. Former Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn is on board for an Article Five convention. He recently said, “I think (George) Mason was prophetic that we would devolve to where the federal government became too powerful, too big and too unwieldy. That’s why he put Article V in. I think we ought to have a balanced budget amendment, I think we ought to have term limits. I think we ought to put a chokehold on regulation and re-establish the powers of the Congress.”
Other prominent conservatives supporting an Article Five convention are Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, David Barton, Rick Green and Glenn Beck. Conservative groups opposing an Article Five include Eagle Forum (Phyllis Schalfly) and the John Birch Society.
It remains unclear if the 34-state threshold has been reached, but for sure it is close. On January 6, very quietly, the U.S. House passed a rule starting an official process for tabulating the state applications for an Article Five convention. The action wasn’t widely reported by the media, but the counting has begun.
Here in Oklahoma, State Rep. Gary Banz, (R-Midwest City) has presented bills to have Oklahoma support an Article Five convention the last two sessions. They have been defeated because of hard work from grassroots activists within the GOP. Here are three reasons to oppose an Article Five convention:
First, George Soros supports it. That’s right – all those prominent conservatives and a very prominent liberal support an Article Five. And he is not the only liberal that supports it. Soros understands the convention would likely spiral out of control and deal with a lot more issues than just ones conservatives want to deal with. When liberals like Soros are on board with an idea, conservatives should be especially leery.
Second, and most importantly, how will the delegates to an Article Five be apportioned? Will each state get one vote like in 1787 in Philadelphia or will it be according to population? There is no provision in Article Five outlining the process, so if Congress is making the rules, it will likely be done by population. That means the more populous areas of the US, which are more liberal, will control the convention and that is no good for conservatives.
Third, there is no guarantee only term limits and the balanced budget amendment would be the only issues considered. The convention itself would control the agenda, not Congress or the states. If the apportionment is done by population, then other issues and amendments could be offered. The result would be a runaway convention.
There are solid principled conservatives on both sides of the Article Five issue. I have many friends who support an Article Five convention and the only places we disagree are where they are wrong!
An Article Five convention is not the answer. Convening an untried, unproven constitutional convention in today’s modern times is just too risky. The real answer is for the citizens of the U.S. to take equity in their government and put sufficient pressure on their federal representatives to do the right thing and pass the amendments with a two-thirds majority in Congress and then lobby to have ratified in their state.
If those promoting an Article Five had spent as much time and energy educating the general public on the current state of affairs as they have spent on promoting a never before tired method, perhaps Congress would have already done the right thing.
An Article Five convention is a bad idea! Contact your state representative and state senator and tell them to oppose any proposal for Oklahoma to call for an Article Five convention.
Steve Fair is the National Committeeman for the Oklahoma Republican Party.