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Op-Ed: Convention of the States: Yes, No, and a Third Option

By • April 1, 2022

The following Op-Ed was submitted by Art Da Rosa. Note: Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

Many have felt that the federal government has usurped powers that were not delegated to it, as well as commandeered the powers delegated to the state and the people respectively. We feel a loss of freedom, while the federal government is growing more and more socialistic. In exasperation, many have suggested the need to call for a Convention of the States or Constitutional Convention (Con-con). Those that have argued for a constitutional convention have proposed the following six amendments to be approved and implemented:

  1. The public debt shall not be increased except upon a recorded vote of two-thirds of each house of Congress.
  2. Term limits on Congress
  3. Limiting federal overreach by returning the Commerce Clause to its original meaning
  4. Limiting the power of federal regulations by giving an easy congressional override
  5. Require a supermajority for federal taxes and repeal the 16th Amendment
  6. Give the states (by a 3/5ths vote) the power to abrogate any federal law, regulation, or executive order.

The Idaho Legislature is contemplating a bill–right now–on this topic. But, should we? I want to lay out the pro and cons of the topic of having a Constitutional Convention and to present an alternative. There is a better way.

Pro

Those that argue for a Constitutional Convention, talked about a runaway Washington, D.C with no practical way to right the ship. To fix the problem, they want to organize a convention, construct, and implement the above-proposed amendments to the Constitution. The proponents of the convention have not indicated that they will stay with the above six amendments only.

Cons

The argument against a Constitutional Convention is that once convened, the delegates could make any changes to the Constitution. The original Constitutional Convention took place in 1787, and it abolished the then constitution, known at that time as the Article of Confederation, altogether. Rather than fixing the constitution, we run the risk of losing the Constitution altogether.

Additional Resources

I believe the supporters of a new Constitutional Convention have the best interest of our nation at heart. They are like-minded in the spirit and soul of our founders who are known as s patriots. I want to present two prospective perspectives  from our founding fathers on this issue:

James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, wrote Federalist 49. He warned against having another Constitutional Convention, as it will be voted along the political party line, and fueled by the passion of the people rather than well-thought-out reasons. Note, to understand this argument, one must read Federalists 36 and 37 where Madison detailed the quality of the delegates and by what power they were guided by (God).

Following Madison’s argument, I do not trust that 34 states could send delegates with the proper understanding and spirituality to be in a convention, as our constitution was written for a moral people who subjected themselves to God. Morality itself is no longer governed by nature’s God, but each individual‘s personal beliefs with no rod by which to measure right from wrong.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the brightest presidents we had, foresaw the situation that we are in, wrote (Jefferson letter to Major Cartwright) that if America should have a second constitutional convention, we need to do the following first:

  1. The citizens need to organize themselves first. We call these grassroots organizations. He called this groups Wards. Group of citizens that get together to help each other, discuss the events of our nation, and act accordingly.
  2. Strengthen the states, as each of them must recognize their duty to resist the federal government.

Only after these conditions are fulfilled will we be able to have a successful constitutional convention.

Majority

Article V of the Constitution delineated several scenarios where a constitutional convention is called, along with the number of states needed to pass or ratify an amendment to the Constitution, two-thirds or three-quarters of the total states. So, which is it? Note that the supporters of the Convention of the States affirm a two-third majority is needed to call for a convention.

The confusion came in 1913 when the 16th and the 17th were passed by the federal Legislative Branch on a two-thirds majority but were not sent to the States to be ratified. Since that time, the amendment process was “relaxed.” Following that argument, the supporters of a Constitutional Convention affirm that 34 states are needed to call for a convention or to force a passage of the amendment. In this case, I tend to agree with them.

Alternative

Following these lines of argument, I see an alternative. The objective of the Constitutional Convention is to establish a list of amendments to resist the usurpation of the federal government.

Additionally, the Idaho GOP Platform further indicates that it would support an amendment to rescind the 17th Amendment (election of US Senators by popular votes). Idaho alone cannot do it. But, if 33 other states pass a similar bill, then a new amendment is formed.

In other words, Idaho can pass a Constitution Amendment bill, work with 33 other states to pass it. We will have a new Amendment. Bypassing all the negative consequences of a convention. And duplicate the effort for the other amendments contemplated by the proponents of the Convention of the States.

Art da Rosa, PE, MPA
State Senate Candidate, Dist 28

Jenny Smith
Restore Liberty in Idaho


Tags: Art Da Rosa, Convention of States, Idaho, Idaho GOP, Jenny SMith, Pocatello

7 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Convention of the States: Yes, No, and a Third Option

  1. Art, your alternative would certainly ease my mind regarding a Con-Con. Your alternative virtually guarantees that a takeover a convention and a complete and total rewrite of our Constitution would not happen.

  2. How about consequences for lieing to get votes… We need a way for us regular people to get stricter rules for accountabilty and punishment for lies… We are so helpless because as we see we have to wait 4 years to boot them out and even if they do get booted they just laugh all the way to the bank… And if it is totally controled by corrupt team members… Rhinos working for lefties but pretending they are hard at work…. Should be criminal… And representatives they hog it up for 3 years then act like they care 6 months before reelection…. What about that.. We need true consequences

    1. “….and even if they do get booted they just laugh all the way to the bank….”

      You are so right. All the campaign money they collect they get to keep for personal use once defeated at the polls or upon retirement. (At the federal level, at least. Not sure about the state.) Think about that the next time you want to contribute to a candidate for federal office. You are making them millionaires….

      Furthermore, a US senator serving one term (6 years) is eligible for a FULL government pension, regardless if he serves another term. I think the House has something similar. Great gig, no? Work for a company for six years, get a full pension. We The People have been so taken for a ride: if you ever wonder why these politicians spend millions for a job whose salary is around $100K per year….well, now you know part of the answer.

  3. Why not REASSERT and RECLAIM the powers and rights the states have in the US Constitution? The wheel has been invented, but we’ve ignored it for decades. The states have exchanged their powers (and sold out their people in the process) for the almighty federal dollar, so the best way to do all the things cited in this article is to elect governors and legislators at the state level who WILL assert the state’s supremacy over the federal government, even if it means they have to forego federal tax dollars. The problem is that the states are far too dependent on Washington for money, and expecting politicians to have a backbone, when all they really want is personal gain and re-election….well, it’s a tall order.

    We forget that The states are the CREATORS of the federal government, not the other way around. That which was created (federal government) to be greater, stronger or have more power than the creators. The states DELEGATED (did not surrender) certain powers to the federal government which were few and defined (wage war, negotiate peace, form political alliance with other nations, and negotiate commerce and trade WITH OTHER NATIONS). All of these can collectively be understood as FOREIGN relations and applied OUTWARDLY to other nations.

    (James Madison: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are FEW and DEFINED….Those which remain the the state governments are NUMEROUS and INDEFINITE…. The [federal powers] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiations and foreign commerce….The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs [e.g., non-wartime], concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the state.” Federal powers were NEVER to reach into the ordinary lives of citizens. How’s that been working out in the last century or so??)

    The Founders left us REEMS of documents outlining exactly what they meant, so we don’t have to guess or interpret. And wherever they were silent on an issue, it was because no federal government they established was ever suppose to have any say in the issue in the first place. Good examples are healthcare and education. Not a word of these in the federal constitution, with good reason: it was left to the individual states to decide, levy taxes for, etc.

    Our Constitution is NOT broken; it’s simply been ignored by Federal and state governments, exploited by politicians, AND not taught properly, if at all, in our school rooms across the country since the early 1900s.

  4. And to the specific issue of a Constitutional Convention:

    If 34 states apply for a Constitutional Convention, not only does Congress get to decide if the applications are VALID, Congress also gets to decide the STANDARDS of validity. Anyone see the problem here?

    Congress, since the 1920s, holds three conclusions, backed by legal counsel, that effectively puts them in control of calling for and providing results from a Convention–(whose goal is to reign in Congress. Again, does anyone see the problem here?)

    1. Congress is the controlling authority over determining the validity of states’ applications;
    2. Congress has been advised by “experts” that applications that assert specifically worded amendments are INVALID because the purpose of the convention is to PROPOSE amendments, NOT RATIFY amendments; and
    3. Congress has the power to choose NOT to call a convention, regardless of the requisite number of sufficient applications, and the states have no recourse.
    Reference: US Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Cyril Blackfield, 1957.

    The states don’t need a Convention; they need the backbone to tell Washington to pound sand….

    1. I would concur with Art’s alternative except for two roadblocks: the time it would take to get 34 states on one page (passing state legislature to back the movement) and I also saw a listing somewhere of “red” and “blue” states of 25 each (getting 25 red states on the same page is a tall enough order, adding 9 blue states would be a virtual shutout). A question for you about another alternative (you seem very knowledgeable on the constitution and state’s rights): I wrote approximately 10 Idaho House reps asking them to raise and submit a resolution defining Idaho as a Constitutional Republic, governed by the Constitution with guidance ONLY from the Federalist Papers, as was the original intent of the Constituion. I felt this would give Idaho better footing both offensively and defensively against further encroachments by the federal government, giving justifiable cause to separate us from the federal union without undergoing secession. Getting other red states involved would further enhance a movement of separation (I believe the States will never be united as we once were, the states that are blatantly socialist-bound will never recover from the cities controlling the state, politically) and the red states need a defensive tool to help stop being bulldozed off the face of the proverbial cliff… Do you think this a viable tactic, and if not is there a solution that you feel could be utilized in saving the rest of the country without going to the next step which would cause severe bloodshed (civil war, those who control the drones would win that one).

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