Is it Time to Call a Constitutional Convention?
There has never been an amendment to the United States Constitution ever made (outside of the Bill of Rights) by a Constitutional Convention. A Constitutional Convention is a way for the states to get together and amend the Constitution without waiting for Congress to do it. Article V of the Constitution states:
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.
There is a growing clamor for such a convention. Thirty eight state legislatures need to sign on for it to happen. So far there are 20 as of 2010 (36 according to the White House, but I can’t find the link anymore).
I think this is a great idea. I realize that there are people out there who think the Constitution is perfect the way it is, but the Founders realized that things would change over time. So I have a few suggestions. It’s in plain English, not Legalese.
- Put a time limit for ratification of an amendment before it just dies. NO EXTENSIONS! The 27th Amendment waited 203 years before being fully ratified. There is another about apportionment of Congress from 1789 still before the states, plus an additional three, one of which is for the PRESERVATION OF SLAVERY (Corwin Amendment 1861)! Two others have expired through terms in the resolution.
- Congress shall receive no pay increase without a vote of the people. We have the technology, and can vote on this quickly, unlike days past.
- When a member of Congress is defeated or retired, THEY NO LONGER GET PAID!
- Remove the phrase “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state”, leaving “The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”
- The President, upon retirement, defeat, or impeachment shall no longer receive pay or Secret Service protection.
- Something, something, something Executive Orders.
- Repeal the 16th Amendment (Federal Income taxes)
- Start a national petition/measure/proposition process, so that we, the People can truly petition the government.
Ideas I found from around the net:
- From RestoringFreedom.org: demand that any increase in the federal debt be approved by a majority of state legislatures (I think that one is a wonderful idea, but would it handcuff the Federal government too much?)
- From Iowa: An amendment to overturn the Supreme Court Citizen’s United decision. I agree that corporations are not people, but why should the media corporations get a monopoly on political speech?
- From the University of Kentucky: An amendment to make it easier to unseat incumbents. I’m not sure how that would work. Penalize the incumbent 5% of their votes?
- From Harvard Law School: An amendment to curb the amount of money spent in political campaigns.
- Abolishing the Electoral College: In my opinion, this would be the death of the Republic. Only the big states would count, and the smaller ones would be ignored completely (some are, like Alaska). The fact that the election has come down to a few battleground “swing” states is a result of the number of pollsters and constant polling going on, not the Constitution.
- An amendment requiring a balanced Federal budget (like Congress pays attention to the law requiring a budget at all; one WAPO columnist calls it irresponsible).
- An amendment ending life tenure for Federal judges. In reality, this is already built into the Constitution. Article III of the US Constitution: The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior. So, in theory, a judge can be recalled.
While I don’t agree with all of these, they should be debated. The “ruling” political class is completely against the idea, so for that reason alone, the time has come. If we want to save our nation, We, the People, need to step up and do it.