The Convention of the States, an Article V Convention or a Constitutional Convention. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” except this process is not rosy, nor would its outcome necessarily be sweet. Last evening, a debate regarding an Article V Convention took place in Marietta, Georgia, at the Cherokee Cattle Company to an almost standing room only crowd. The State of Georgia legislature added its support for a “convention” in order to propose amendments to the US Constitution which has concerned many in the state.
Lance Lamberton, who has worked closely in Georgia in favor of an Article V Convention for a “balanced budget” amendment, argued in favor of a convention while Publius Huldah argued in opposition. Mr. Lamberton was very gracious to accept the offer to debate Publius and there was no doubt listening to him that he firmly believes a convention to be the solution in order to “curb” the out of control Congress with regards to spending. However, Mr. Lamberton could offer no credible references to back his claims the states would control the convention and any outcome.
According to Mr. Lamberton, the convention should be looked at “as a tactic to get Congress to do what it was supposed to do….” Again, Mr. Lamberton was only discussing his support for an Article V Convention for a balanced budget amendment. Mr. Lamberton made an extensive argument in support of his position while calling those arguments opposing the convention “red herrings.”
Mr. Lamberton outlined how the states would be in charge of the convention with the member delegates, outlined an oath these delegates would be required to take and how the states would retain prosecutorial discretion should a member delegate betray that oath or operate outside the established “rules.”
Publius Huldah countered Mr. Lamberton’s support for an Article V Convention to propose amendments skillfully with numerous references to the Federalist Papers, the Congressional Research Services report, and the historical precedent of the first convention to “revise the Articles of Confederation” that gave the United States its present Constitution. Her “Straight Talk About An Article V Convention” at her website contains the same information she shared with the attendees at last night’s event.
A quiet gathering during Mr. Lamberton’s portion of the presentation turned into astounding applause for the logic, the irrefutable proof and evidence against a convention presented by Publius Huldah.
Both individuals agree the federal government is out of control. Both individuals agree the Congress must be held accountable for their “activities”; however, the disagreement revolves around an Article V Convention as the remedy.
The attendees were allowed to ask questions of both participants. Suzanne Hamner, writer at Freedom Outpost, proposed this question to Mr. Lamberton.
“You stated that your focus was on the BBA and that we should look at this convention ‘as a tactic to get Congress to do what it was supposed to do.’ Considering that Congress treats the Constitution as a Chinese buffet with John Boehner dismissing impeachment because ‘he doesn’t like it’ and Trey Gowdy’s argument ‘have you met Joe Biden,’ can you show where in the Constitution, the Federalist papers, or any other document where a convention to propose amendments will get Congress to do what it is supposed to do?”
Mr. Lamberton responded saying it was in Article V of the Constitution.
Interrupting Mr. Lamberton, Ms. Hamner pointed out he was not answering the question.
Mr. Lamberton maintained the information was in Article V saying that three quarters of the states would need to ratify amendments.
Ms. Hamner pressed Mr. Lamberton on the context of the question, holding a pocket copy of the US Constitution turned to Article V, stating the question still had not been answered and asked him to show where it stated amendments would force Congress to “do what it was supposed to do.”
Mr. Lamberton stated he had answered the question and it was in Article V.
Here is the context of Article V of the Constitution of the United States of America:
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 the ninth section of the first Article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
As an elementary reading comprehension strict teacher once stated, “If you take out what is inserted between the commas, the sentence should still make sense and maintain its intent.”
So, let’s look at Article V without what is inserted between the commas. “The Congress … shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or … shall call a convention for proposing amendments ….”
Now, let’s look at this method. “The Congress … on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments ….”
So, in looking at Article V, the Congress either proposes amendments or calls a convention for proposing an amendment. The states can “apply” to Congress to call a convention; however, it is Congress who calls the convention to propose amendments – not the states.
Look at it from this point of view. You, as a consumer, may “apply” for a credit card with a credit card company. The credit card company then determines whether or not to issue you a credit card. The credit card company then uses its own established criteria for issuing or denying credit. If the credit card company approves you for credit, you are then bound by their terms for usage, interest, etc.
It’s the same with an Article V Convention. The states, as sovereign entities, may “apply” to Congress to hold a convention. It is then up to Congress to determine whether or not to grant or deny that application. Congress would use its own criteria to grant or deny a convention. If the convention is approved, the Congress, as the grantor, would subject the convention to be bound by its terms and conditions.
Nowhere in Article V does it state that the states control anything other than the states must ratify amendments. If Congress calls a convention, nowhere does Article V state that the states will control that convention. Simply put, if Congress proposes amendments for ratification or calls a convention to propose amendments for ratification, Congress, being the body vested to make “all laws necessary and proper” to carry out its enumerated powers, controls the process.
Everyone on the differing sides of this issue agree that Congress is out of control, the federal government has grown too big, our posterity has been sold into debt slavery with an ever mounting deficit with no end in sight, and something has to be done to halt this process in order for this country to survive. From what Mr. Lamberton exhibited, his passion is great when voicing these irrefutable facts – that is unquestionable. And, maybe, Mr. Lamberton did not have enough time to fully express his side of the issue as time is limited in a debate. What cannot be disputed is Mr. Lamberton’s sincerity, integrity, and graciousness to participate in a debate to defend the call for a convention.
But, more than integrity, sincerity, and graciousness is needed in order to fully defend opening up our Constitution to an amendment process by an Article V convention. What is needed from those in support of a convention is more than a debate – it is a true discussion on the “amendments” being proposed by the convention supporters: what they mean, how they are to be enforced, who is to enforce it and what is to be done should the “convention” fail. The discussion should not be made with “theories” on operation or how one thinks the convention should go.
Those in opposition to the convention operate on historical precedent, the content of our current Constitution and references from those who wrote it. Those opposed to a convention are only asking those in favor of a convention to show through references, that the states would control the convention, the states would establish the amendments, how the amendments would be enforced and followed, how any amendment limits Congress, and the convention would not deviate from “their” supposed intent.
In regards to a “balanced budget” amendment, the Constitution already limits federal spending to the enumerated powers – a limit the federal government has not followed. Congress spends funds on unconstitutional agencies and powers outside the enumerated. The federal government violates the Bill of Rights and several amendments to the Constitution expanded, not limited, the power of the federal government. Are we now to believe that history will not repeat itself? Are we to believe there is historical basis to conclude a balanced budget amendment would not expand federal government power and control?
Simply put, would you trust an individual known to be a thief with your bank account information? Of course not. So, why would you trust those who have already stolen some freedoms, speaking of state governments as well as the federal government, to uphold the freedoms left?
As the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”