The Article V Convention

by Paul R. Hollrah –

As Mark Levin’s new book, The Liberty Amendments – Restoring the American Republic, generates hundreds of thousands, if not millions more advocates for a Second Constitutional Convention, it is imperative that all aspects of the concept be given a full and complete airing.

In an email attributed to Thomas E. Brennan, director of an organization called Convention USA, “an interactive, virtual convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution,” Brennan argues that, “In 1789, the Congress proposed that the House of Representatives have a minimum ratio of one member for every 50,000 people. I believe that a truly representative convention should follow that counsel.

“According to the 2010 census, the population of the 50 American States was 308,143,728. At a ratio of one delegate for every 50,000 people, the convention will need 6,163 delegates… I believe we should design our convention so that each delegate represents not less than 45,000 nor more than 55,000 people.”

If the members of Convention USA really believe that a convention comprised of more than 6,000 delegates could accomplish anything at all, one wonders what that might be.

The purpose of a constitutional convention is not to be “representative.” To suggest that a convention called for the purpose of considering amendments to be submitted to the states for ratification must be “representative” and purely “democratic” is far too reminiscent of Barack Obama’s countless speeches on the virtue of “fairness.” In other words, a convention comprised of three delegates from each state, regardless of size, is far more likely to produce a useable work product in a short period of time than a much larger convention. In fact, a convention comprised of more than 6,000 delegates is unlikely to produce anything but a lot of heated rhetoric and endless sound bytes for the mainstream media.

When the delegates to the First Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in May, 1787, they numbered 54 delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies (Rhode Island sent no delegates). And since there was no apparent formula for representation, and since each state received a single vote, the number of delegates sent by the colonies varied widely:

• Connecticut, with 235,100 residents, sent 3 delegates (78,370 residents per delegate)
• Delaware, with 55,200 residents, sent 5 delegates (11,040 residents per delegate)
• Georgia, with 82,200 residents, sent 4 delegates (20,550 residents per delegate)
• Maryland, with 311,700 residents, sent 5 delegates (62,340 residents per delegate)
• Massachusetts, with 373,300 residents, sent 4 delegates (93,320 residents per delegate)
• New Hampshire, with 141,300 residents, sent 2 delegates (70,650 residents per delegate)
• New Jersey, with 181,400 residents, sent 5 delegates (34,280 residents per delegate)
• New York, with 335,500 residents, sent 3 delegates (118,830 residents per delegate)
• North Carolina, with 388,800 residents, sent 5 delegates (77,760 residents per delegate)
• Pennsylvania, with 427,800 residents, sent 8 delegates (53,480 residents per delegate)
• South Carolina, with 247,300 residents, sent 3 delegates (82,430 residents per delegate)
• Virginia, with 734,700 residents, sent 7 delegates (104,960 residents per delegate)

Those fifty-four men produced a document that has made the United States the greatest, most prosperous nation in human history, the envy of all mankind. With red states now outnumbering blue states, and with Republican presidential candidates regularly carrying 78% of the country’s 3,113 counties, we must trust that at least three-fourths of our states would be able to select delegates with a firm grasp of what the Founders intended.

Another blogger in the same email stream, Roy G. Callahan, makes some rather outrageous and unsupportable charges re: Mark Levin and his call for an Article V constitutional convention. He quotes Rush Limbaugh as saying, “I don’t want to say it’s simple, but it makes so much sense… And it is something that, the more people read it, the more people become familiar with it and demand that something be done to reaffirm and strengthen the Constitution, it’s something like this that is going to be necessary… The American people have the power to change this.”

The operative phrase in the Limbaugh quote is “the more people read it, the more people become familiar with it…” Those who appear most opposed to the notion of an Article V convention are people who have apparently not read Levin’s book. They cannot seem to grasp the notion that an Article V convention is the only way that we can conceivably “force the federal beast back inside the cage of the Constitution.”

For example, Callahan writes, “Before state legislatures vote for an Article V con-con proposal that could cause real and radical damage to our Constitution, they should first consider whether a balanced budget amendment is necessary and whether it would actually steer our republic away from the fiscal problems we are facing. The fact is that determined citizens and state legislators could rescue the United States from its financial peril without opening up the Constitution to tinkering by state-appointed delegates, many of whom would be bought and paid for by special interests and corporations.”

Given that every American citizen is a member of at least one “special interest” (most of us are members of several special interests), one wonders exactly which special interests Callahan would want to exclude. And since corporations are comprised of shareholders and employees… all citizens with property rights… one wonders which of those shareholders and employees he might want to disenfranchise.

If Mr. Callahan is intent upon opposing a constitutional convention on the grounds that members of special interests, corporate stakeholders, and working men and women would unfairly or unwisely influence the work product of a constitutional convention, I think he owes it to the rest of us to be much more specific about his concerns.

Callahan appears to be under the impression that delegates to an Article V convention would somehow amend the Constitution. He appears not to understand that the sole purpose of the convention is to agree on which elements of the current Constitution require fine-tuning, and to agree on the wording of amendments to be referred back to the states for ratification by three-fourths of the states. It is a process that contains not only maximum checks and balances, but the opportunity for maximum input by the American people.

In discussing Levin’s proposal for a balanced budget amendment, Callahan writes, “And don’t forget, a committed, concerned, and constitutionally aware citizenry can balance our budget more quickly than any balanced budget amendment…” One wonders where that “committed, concerned, and constitutionally aware citizenry” has been hiding in all the years since those on the political left decided to turn our constitutional republic into a socialist welfare state.

Callahan states that, “… those calling for a new constitutional convention claim that a new con-con could accomplish just as much as the first convention and be kept from becoming a ‘runaway convention’ that could result in a new constitution, one that doesn’t resemble the current one.”

Conversely, is it realistic to suggest that those millions of people across the country who turned 78% of the 3,113 U.S. counties red, vs. blue, are going to sit back and allow their states to send a delegation of progressive flakes to a constitutional convention, or to suggest that the delegates elected by all those red-county voters are going to go to the convention and support a left wing wish-list?

Of course, liberal cesspools such as California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Minnesota could be expected to elect a slate of delegates who would be the ideological polar opposites of the Founding Fathers of 1787, but to what end? The numbers are not on their side. They would be regularly outvoted by red state delegates. Even former liberal strongholds such as Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have come to their senses and have elected Republican-controlled legislatures.

Arguably, Levin omitted a constitutional amendment to Article II, Section 1, Clause 3. The states should be given the opportunity to consider an electoral system now used only by the states of Maine and Nebraska. Under the Maine-Nebraska system, the candidates for president and vice president receiving the largest number of votes statewide in each state are awarded the state’s two at-large electoral votes, while the remainder of each state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidates receiving a majority of the votes in each congressional district.

Levin also overlooked the need to establish once and for all the definition of the term “natural born Citizen,” as required by Clause 5 of Article II, Section 1. The illegitimate presidencies of Republican Chester A. Arthur (1881-85) and Democrat Barack Obama (2009-?) require that the term “natural born Citizen” be defined to mean only those individuals born to parents, both of whom were U.S. Citizens at the time of the birth, regardless of place of birth.

We have nothing to fear from a constitutional convention; we have everything to gain. September 6, 2013 |

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