Article V to the U.S. Constitution lays out two methods for amending the Constitution:
Congress passes an amendment by two-thirds vote and sends it to the states for ratification
Two-thirds of state legislatures pass a resolution call for a convention to propose amendments, that would be sent to the states for ratification.
Amendments proposed either way have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. All 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by the first way. However, many conservatives are calling for an Article V Convention of The States to curb what they see is a Federal government that refuses to deal with a debt crisis, regulatory overreach, infringements upon state sovereignty, and Federal government overreach. Other Article V proposals include the “liberty amendments” that were proposed in 2013 by conservative talk show host and constitutional attorney Mark Levin.
However, without dealing with the specifics of the proposals laid out by those who are supporting an Article V convention, I believe that an Article V convention is a terrible approach to amending the constitution and in fact will likely result in a less free America.
The first problem with the Article V convention is that it’s never been tried before, with good reason. Matthew Spalding wrote this for the Daily Signal:
The requirement that amendments proposed by such a convention must be ratified by three-fourths of the states is a significant limit on the process and would likely prevent a true “runaway” convention from fundamentally altering the Constitution. But we don’t think it is at all clear, for instance, that two-thirds of the states calling for an amendments convention can limit the power of all the states assembled in that convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Other questions include the many practical aspects of how an amending convention would operate and whether any aspects of such a convention (including going beyond its instructions) would be subject to judicial review.
Which leads to the second problem with an Article V convention, which is that everything will be on the table. The New American magazine reports that at least one progressive PAC is calling for an Article V convention in order to pass an amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision. In addition, progressive Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has released a wish list of amendments. In an Article V convention, all of these things can be considered and what may result if a series of proposed of amendments reflecting a populist smorgasbord of proposals designed to cobble together the support of 37 states.
The third reason why an Article V convention should be rejected is that all of these proposed changes can be accomplished through the normal Congressional amendment process. An Article V convention should be reserved just for national emergencies given all the inherent unknowns that would be involved. No one in their right minds can credibly argue that any issue we’re facing right now that an Article V convention would remedy is truly a national crisis that needs to be solved with the dramatic step of a constitutional amendment, let alone one passed in this measure.
The final reason why liberty-lovers should reject an Article V convention is that it essentially is a shortcut to doing the hard work of persuading fellow Americans and our representatives that we need to make these changes. What the Article V proponents are essentially trying to do is to overturn 80 years of election results without actually putting in the hard work of persuading fellow Americans that they should make the changes. If they could not convince the American people to endorse this agenda in an election, how are they going to convince 37 states to endorse these ideas?
An Article V convention is a radical measure that will, unfortunately, provide a platform for populist demagogues to promote their agenda to the detriment of liberty. Need I remind everyone that the original mandate of what became the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 was merely to revise the Articles of Confederation. Instead, it produced a brand new governing document. It’s just as likely that an Article V convention will produce a constitution that will radically different than what its proponents advocate.
In the end, there’s just simply too much risk and too many unknowns surrounding the Article V convention to go down that road.
I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
I haven’t blogged about the shutdown, because, well, I haven’t blogged much about anything. Mea culpa.
I haven’t had time because I’m, quite frankly, not personally or professionally affected. Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog, however, is very personally AND professionally affected. Warren operates private concession operations that handle all on-site activities at parks, with a good portion of his business based upon federal parks.
These parks use no federal employees. They don’t require any federal dollars to operate. In fact, they pay rent to the federal government as part of the terms of their lease. So of all things, you’d think that the Feds would want them to remain open. In fact, in all previous shutdowns (including 1995 & 1996), they have remained open.
Not this time. They’ve been ordered to close.
I can’t do justice to all the coverage that already exists for this. While I assume many of my readers are also daily readers at Coyote Blog (and Popehat), I can’t be sure.
All of Warren’s post on this topic can be found here. Check them out, please. You will not be disappointed.
As it pertains to the shutdown, I have little patience for the Republicans here. The Republicans are playing a gambit they can’t win. The Dems are NOT going to defund or delay Obamacare. This is stupid on strategic and tactical levels. You can’t win and you’re going to damage your brand in the process. WTF are you thinking?!
But what I see from the Obama administration is wrong on many more levels. It seems that the administration’s tactic here is to screw as many people as possible, to make this as painful as possible, and then hope the blame rests only on the Republicans for what the administration has done. There is no reason to close these privately-operated parks. There’s no reason to throw people out of their homes because they rest on federal land. There’s no reason to close open-air memorials that don’t require human workers to operate. While I’m not sympathetic to Republican partisans, I have to say that naming the barriers that closed the World War II memorial “Barrycades” is quite smart.
I’m still filled with nothing but disgust for everyone in Washington. Both sides are angling for a “win”. I want to see both sides lose, dammit!
Unfortunately, I know that in Nov. 2014, lawmakers from both parties will probably enjoy >90% re-election rates. And people wonder why I say that democracy doesn’t work?
Step right up and enjoy the posturing, rhetoric, and antics of our congressional clown crew…
Over to your right you’ll see the amazing vocal endurance of Republican Senator from Texas Ted Cruz as he tosses red meat to the base…
… To be serious, there are a large group of people, who don’t understand why the rest of us consider what Ted Cruz did (a 21 hour “filibuster” of a motion in relation to items within a continuing resolution for funding the federal government for the next six months), both harmful to the country, and nothing more than grandstanding.
For them, it looks like Cruz was (in the composite words of many Americans on the right):
“Taking a brave and principled stand against the funding of a bad law that will harm our country.”
In reality, he was doing no such thing.
Cruz is being maligned by his own party because he was being a clown. This “filibuster” was nothing but a clown show.
It may be viscerally satisfying, but it’s idiotic. It will do absolutely NOTHING for the Republicans, of for those against Obamacare, except throw red meat to the stupider side of the base.
This is underpants gnomes strategy.
Step one: “Non-filibuster a piece of already passed legislation that I can’t stop by doing this… but that’s OK I wasn’t really trying to, really I was just trying to get media attention and attract donations from the less intelligent and aware side of my political base”.
Step two: … uh….
Step three: Electoral Victory?
“But, one brave man, standing up for what he believes in, can do amazing things. A small group of patriots can change the world, just look at the American revolution.”
No, they can’t. No guns involved in this one. No big foreign war distracting the occupying power. No actual fight going on among the actual fighters… just a series of bargaining and trading; while the rhetorical fight goes on among the spectators.
It may be emotionally satisfying rhetoric, but that’s all it is, rhetoric.
You are not a member of the patriotic few, bravely standing up against the despotic elite, risking all for freedom.
In fact, unless you support drug legalization, getting the state out of marriage…and almost everything else… giving up legislating morality and goodness entirely… You AREN’T EVEN ON THE GOOD GUYS SIDE.
You’re just another guy on the badguys side, who wants the badguys to tax the tea a little differently.
Oh and as “just another guy”, you actually aren’t on their side at all…
You’re a spectator rooting for your team from… not even the stands… from the comfort of your own home; with the game streamed lived via satellite into your living room.
“But what would you have us do? Just give up, let the Democrats run the country into the ground”
Nope… Not at all…
I’d have you stop assuming the rhetorical mantle of revolutionary patriot because it makes you feel good; and stop supporting things which reinforce that feeling, without actually DOING anything.
If you buy Ted Cruz’s stunt, you are perpetuating this crap.
If you want to actually do something… ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. Get involved with your political party on a local level. Get onto policy committees. Become a subject matter expert for the party on something you know, and use that position to help steer the party, and the politicians in the party, in the right direction.
That’s actually doing something. This thing with Cruz? It’s just something you can say you supported so you can feel morally vindicated while not actually doing anything.
“You’ll see… Cruz was right, this is bad law and we must stop it. Cruz will be vindicated, time will tell”
Well of COURSE he’s RIGHT, we all know that… it’s AWFUL law… even Jon Stewart thinks it’s bad law… but that doesn’t mean he was doing any good… or even try to for that matter.
Sure he’s increasing his own fundraising, and certainly he’s right about Obama care… but to be vindicated you have to have done or said something substantive, and then been proven right later.
How has he done that?
He’s hurt the Republican party badly with the center, and provided yet another target for mockery and ridicule… and to scare those who think this sort of thing is either stupid or crazy…
Yes, he’s increased his own fundraising… and tripled that of everyone on the left.
This is not some brave heroic last stand. This was a foregone conclusion. Obamacare would never, under any circumstances, be defunded. This wasn’t a filibuster. This wasn’t moral courage.
If it was a serious attempt to stop Obamacare, fine, that would be great. Even if it were a futile attempt, if it were even structurally capable of stopping it, sure… it wasn’t and isn’t.
It wasn’t really even a symbolic gesture.
It was pandering, to the lowest common denominator. It was Ted Cruz setting himself up to be the poster boy for the low information voters of the right.
And he knew EXACTLY what he was doing… By all accounts Cruz is a brilliant man.
“It doesn’t matter if he was doomed to fail, it was the right thing to do anyway. Standing up for what’s right is never wrong”
If that’s what he was actually doing, I wouldn’t be so irritated by this.
I’m irritated because this is what they do instead of something useful. “I supported Ted Cruz’s filibuster but those nasty democrats and RINOs passed it anyway”…
The people who believe this, don’t seem to understand that what Cruz did actually hurt us. Us being those of us who really fight against government overreach, and bad law.
It gave cover to the people who wanted to do nothing anyway, it encouraged a few whackjobs to make spectacles of themselves, and it INCREASED the morale and assumed moral authority of the other side.
Do you not realize how stupid and ridiculous this makes anti-obamacare people to the middle? How hysterical it makes them appear to the other sides donors? How this is a permanent harmful soundbite/video clip?
It’s idiots like this that made them able to paint Mitt Romney as an ultraconservative ultra right damn near American Taliban…
When in fact, he wasn’t conservative enough for a lot of people to bother even coming out, and they just stayed home rather than vote.
This is NOT a dedicated small group of principled people fighting against government overreach… That would be excellent.
This is the Republican equivalent of a college student “sticking it to the man” by wearing Che Guevara t-shirt an shouting about oppression and justice, out in front of the admin building.
“You don’t understand… Cruz is different… he’s the only one of the Republicans with the guts and the principle to stand up and do something”.
If he had actually done that, I would more than agree… I’d be cheering him on too.
But he didn’t.
If he were actually different… I’d be 100% behind him… Hell, I think he’s a good man, and in general he will probably be a good senator, though it’s a bit early to tell. If nothing else, he’s a LOT smarter than most Senators.
But really… other than that… he’s not much different than any other professional politician.
I’ve read the mans bio, read some of his speeches, hell I was even on a conference call with him and Marco Rubio at some party event during the campaign last year.
Yeah, he’s accomplished, and he’s got a hell of a back story (great family tale), but… what is it you think makes him so special?
He’s a smart guy, apparently a great legal mind, clerked for Rehnquist, editor of the Harvard law review… which are great things sure… but but I don’t see what you seem to see that makes him particularly exceptional among senators. He’s been a politician basically since law school; either full or part time.
He spent less than a year in private practice before going into an administration job, then less than 4 years out of the fedgov, where he ran for office twice, before going back to the fedgov.
He’s a professional politician.
I think he’s probably going to be a good senator (kinda hard to tell 9 months in), but I don’t see anything there that says anything other than professional politician… He’s a smart man and seemingly a good man… and those are great things… but he’s still a professional politician, and has never been anything but a professional politician.
I mean… he actually voted… in fact the senate voted unanimously 100-0… for the motion he was supposedly filibustering…
How can you even call it a filibuster if you’re going to vote for it?
So… In the next show, we have the “Government Shutdown”.
As of right now, the Republicans in congress have refused to sign any continuing appropriations bills that require the raising of the U.S. federal debt ceiling, and which fund Obamacare.
Therefore, the Republicans are trying to pull a repeat of 1996 and “shut down the government”; again to foster the illusion that they are taking a principled stand against excess spending and government waste etc… etc…
“Why can’t they just balance the budget, instead of raising the debt ceiling again… That’s not a solution, that’s just making the problem worse?”
That’s the question of a well meaning, intelligent person, looking at this problem from a rational perspective…
So it’s completely irrelevant to anything they do in Washington of course.
First thing, the whole “Defund Obamacare” spiel is, and always has been, a sham. It’s more redmeat for the base. It’s not going to stop Obamacare, never was going to, never could; and even if it could, the republicans couldn’t get it past the senate, or a presidential veto, or an override etc… etc…
It’s just PR.
The Republicans saw what happened to Mitt Romney. They know that a large portion of the electorate doesn’t think they’re conservative enough and so won’t bother to vote for them… This is how they’re trying to address that issue. Nothing more substantive than that.
This still leaves the debt ceiling issue… and of course, incurring yet more federal debt is a bad thing. We are already at more than 105% of GDP (of course, that’s far lower than most other nations, but it’s still quite bad).
However, since it is quite literally impossible for any continuing appropriation to be passed that doesn’t require increasing the debt ceiling… In fact, even without a continuing appropriation the debt ceiling will need to be increased (because of credit payments, entitlements, and other already legislated spending); the debt ceiling is GOING to be raised.
Either that, or an accounting trick will be used to do the same thing.
It’s not a solution. It’s a requirement of the circumstances.
Balancing the budget… that’s a joke; given that we haven’t actually PASSED a budget or OPERATED under a budget , since 1997. From 1998, the government hasn’t been funded with a passed budget, it’s been funded with omnibus spending and special appropropriation bills, and continuing resolutions.
In fact, since Obama was elected, we haven’t even managed to pass an omnibus spending bill, and have exclusively funded the government with special appropriations and continuing resolutions.
The reality of the “debt ceiling” is, the U.S. is NOT going to default on its credit payments, under any circumstances.
In the first place, a U.S. credit default would trigger a world wide economic collapse and long term depression the likes of which have not been dreamed of outside of dystopian fiction.
So yeah… that’s bad… let’s not do that.
Even if that weren’t true, the politicians in this country are not going to let people miss entitlement payments… which is the whole reason why we don’t have a budget in the first place…
Every politician in America knows that if they get blamed for their constituents missing a social security check, they are done… dead… never to be elected to anything, even dog catcher, again.
So, any threat not to raise the debt ceiling, or to have a true and complete government shutdown, really is just grandstanding.
Until we make serious cuts to entitlements, we are not going to have anything close to a balanced budget. No politician in this country who has actually managed to get elected and wants to be re-elected is going to EVER under any circumstances, vote to cut entitlements. Therefore we are never going to have a balanced budget again… or at least not until there is a real unavoidable crisis, where they can cover themselves by saying “we had to do it to save the country”, and their opponents can only look like irresponsible liars if they try to say otherwise…
Of course, if this country weren’t filled with economically and politically ignorant “citizens”, then perhaps the electorate as a whole would understand that we’ve long past the point at which such a crisis could be avoided, and that something really needs to be done right now…
Unfortunately, what looked like it was going to be the first major group of voters working for entitlement cuts in this country, the “tea party”; was quickly overrun by a huge number of these idiots who, completely un-self aware were saying, with complete sincerity “get the government out of healthcare and welfare… but don’t touch my social security and medicare”.
The politicians noticed this… Particularly the smart ones… Like, say, Ted Cruz.
I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.
Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra
If something isn’t done to stop the train wreck known as Obamacare before next year, the healthcare system and the economy will suffer. Tea Party Republicans in the House and Senate have vowed to “defund” Obamacare even if it means shutting the government down. Obviously, opponents of this law should do everything possible to stop this from happening…right?
Maybe it’s not so obvious.
Obamacare cannot truly be defunded because the spending is built into the law itself but for the sake of argument, lets say there was some loophole that would make defunding possible. Why would Republicans want to bail the Democrats out? The Democrats own this legislation because not a single Republican voted in favor.
Let the Democrats suffer the consequences at the ballot box in 2014 and 2016. If the Republicans somehow managed to delay, add exemptions from some of the laws worst aspects, or alter Obamacare’s implementation, the Democrats would then have an out. President Obama could resort to his usual demagoguery in the campaign season the “Affordable Care Act would have worked if the Tea Party extremists hadn’t screwed it up!” The Obama media would be more than happy to echo this party line.
There is a better way. What if allowing Obamacare to be fully implemented as scheduled would lead to its ultimate demise? Far from trying to soften the blow or delay the law’s implementation, opponents of the bill, especially Republicans in positions of leadership should call the president’s bluff and let the train wreck occur. Over the many objections from many of us, Obamacare passed, failed numerous repeal efforts, and prevailed in the Supreme Court.
Also, consider that Obama was reelected. Its time for the American people to take their medicine and live with the consequences. We keep hearing about how the progressives have a better plan than those of us who believe in smaller government and free markets; let’s find out together just how wise they are!
No delays to save incumbents in the 2014 election. No waivers for employees, employers, the labor unions, for Congress, or for government workers. No waivers for anyone. How many times have we heard progressives say “we’re all in this together”? We should call their bluff on this as well.
To the extent that President Obama is trying to selectively enforce the law, Republicans should challenge his authority to do so in the courts and ask the president why he wants to delay his signature accomplishment as president.
Let the American people experience the broken promises of Obamacare for themselves. Let the Democrats defend the law in the 2014 campaign when voters see their work hours cut to less than 30 hours a week (if they are lucky to keep their jobs at all), their premiums rise, and/or lose the insurance plans they already have.
If after the American people (and I mean all of the American people) experience this pain sooner than later and still decide that Obamacare is the way to reform health care then I suppose we are getting exactly the system we deserve.
It seems logical that every American, regardless of political affiliation/philosophy, race, religion or creed, would be concerned about the revelations concerning domestic spying on the part of the NSA. If the Obama administration can spy on and mistreat the Tea Party and other right wing causes, the next Republican administration could spy on and mistreat Occupy Wall Street and other left wing causes.
As it turns out, this is not necessarily the case. According to an article by David A. Love, the black community has largely greeted this news with a shrug and a yawn.
Is this lack of concern because many blacks do not want to be critical of the first black* president? This might account for some of this shrugging but Love suspects that there is something much deeper at work here:
The black community has decades of experience being monitored, so this type of surveillance is nothing new. Given the long history of being spied upon, many blacks already assume they are being monitored by the government […] […] African-Americans are no strangers to surveillance, as their activities were highly regulated through the slave codes, laws which controlled both slaves and free blacks.
The mistreatment of blacks did not end when slavery was abolished, of course. Love goes on to describe several other atrocities such as the Tuskegee experiment, J. Edgar Hoover’s illegal spying on Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and others.
As I read this, I wondered why there isn’t a similar distrust of the government as the medical establishment by blacks in general. The Tuskegee experiments were done at the behest of the U.S. Public Health Service, after all!
After finishing the article, I decided to read through the comments section (this is a blog that is dedicated primarily with concerns of the black community; the comments can sometimes be very illuminating). The very first comment by a user with the handle “Blackheywood Heywood” did not disappoint:
The US government began spying on Black folks before this government was created, yet it was no outrage.Give me a break, it seems slowly mainstream America is discovering how it feels to be thought of as suspicious or guilty before being accused, never mind arrested. Welcome to the world of the American Black male.
Heywood has a valid point. The answer to the question why the lack of outrage by the black community concerning the NSA and IRS scandals could just as easily turned against what Heywood called “mainstream America.” Indeed, where was the right (for lack of a better term) on these outrages? Where has the Tea Party been on the question of “stop and frisk,” in New York in which minorities are especially targeted to be searched, supposedly at random? Is this simply a case of “out of sight, out of mind?”
I believe there’s also another phenomenon at work: the memory hole. Near the close of the article, Love mentioned an event that took place in Philadelphia in 1985 I was completely unaware of:
On May 13, 1985, following a standoff, a Philadelphia police helicopter dropped a bomb on the house on Osage Avenue occupied by the black “radical” group known as MOVE. Police reportedly fired on MOVE members as they escaped the burning home […] […] The 1985 bombing—which killed 11 people, including 5 children and destroyed an entire neighborhood of 61 row homes in West Philadelphia—marked the first such attack on U.S. citizens by government authorities. The survivors and victims’ families received $5.5 million in compensation from the city of Philadelphia.
I try my best to be informed about historical events as well as current events. How is it that this is the first I had ever heard about the Philadelphia Police dropping a freaking bomb on a neighborhood in an American city?** I must have been sick that day in American History class (I also didn’t learn about the Tuskegee experiments until well into my twenties; maybe I was sick on that day as well).
Maybe MOVE was a radical organization maybe it wasn’t*** but nothing could justify the police dropping a bomb on a neighborhood. Perhaps this atrocity is well known by people in the black community, both young and old but not so much outside the black community (or maybe I’m one of the few Americans who never heard about this but I doubt it).
MOVE probably wasn’t the first group the government described as “extreme” to a point where government officials ordered and used military force against its members; it certainly wasn’t the last. How many people out of a hundred know about what happened at Ruby Ridge? The Weaver family, why they were “extremists” after all and therefore, why should anyone care about their rights? How many people out of a hundred know about the conflicting accounts of what really happened at assault on the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas? (Here’s a hint: a great deal more than what the MSM reported at the time). I suppose because these people were part of some sort of cult, their rights didn’t matter either!
This is where the real problem of indifference lies. I’ve heard far too many people with the attitude “it’s not my problem” or “it doesn’t affect me”. Even more disturbing is the attitude some people have that they are happy when someone of an opposing view has his or her rights of life, liberty, and/or property trampled on (i.e. “Screw them, they are ‘extremists’”). Far too often, concerns about civil liberties depend on whose ox is being gored at that particular time.
I would like to humbly suggest that if you are not as upset when its someone else’s ox, even if it’s the ox of your opponent’s, one day it will be your ox that will be gored. Perhaps Martin Niemoller said it best in his very short work “First they Came” describing how the Nazis took freedom away from the whole population, one group at a time. By the time the Nazis got around to taking freedom from what remained of the population, Niemoller concluded “there was no one left to speak for me.”
To be clear, I am not comparing the U.S. government to the Nazis. Such hyperbolic comparisons are not constructive and minimize the very crimes against humanity the Nazis committed. I am making a comparison about how populations respond to encroachments on liberty, however. As demonstrated in Love’s article, there are plenty of examples of injustice from American history.
Here are just a handful more:
The Indian Removal Act
The internment of Japanese Americans
And many, many more.
Each of these policies were permitted to happen because the majority apparently felt that curtailing freedoms of these minorities would somehow not affect their own freedoms. We should acknowledge that these injustices occurred and try to learn the right lessons (rather than pretend the U.S. government or the American people have committed no wrongs ever) and move on.
Every injustice and every violation of rights of life, liberty, and property must be answered by all of us as if it’s our own liberty that is at stake.
*Yes, I’m aware that Obama is actually half black. However, if a man of his description was accused of committing a crime and at large, he would be described as a black man.
**In light of this, Rand Paul’s questions about government using drones to attack Americans on American soil no longer seem so far fetched, unfortunately.
***All I know is what I read in the cited article.