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Article V Convention – Yes Or No?

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Published on: February 18, 2024

Sometimes people get caught up in a craze and follow what is presented without giving much thought to the depth of what they are supporting, or the potential ramifications.  Such is the case with the current pursuit of an Article V convention, also known as a Con-Con or Convention of States (COS).  It may be tedious to read through these documents but it is worthwhile to look at the history behind Article V.

Article V of the Constitutions states a convention for amendments to the Constitution can be called when “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”.

In 1777, the Continental Congress created the Articles of Confederation.  Altering the Articles is found in XIII.  Because of the Revolutionary war, the weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation, especially related to commerce and trade, became apparent.

Originally, commissioners from Maryland and Virginia met to discuss fishing rights and regulation of commerce between their states.  Virginia then “issued the invitation” to other states to attend a convention on this subject while some states felt it “transgressed the powers of Congress”.  James Madison even commented that “Many Gentlemen both within & without Congs. wish to make this Meeting subservient to a Plenipotentiary Convention for amending the Confederation.”

Eventually, nine state legislatures elected delegates to attend the Annapolis Convention, held September 11 to September 14, 1786, to discuss limited trade and commerce under the Articles of Confederation.  But the convention was held with only five states, lacking “the requisite quorum of seven states necessary to conduct business”.  The assigned task for the convention, commercial matters and trade regulations, were never addressed.

With representation from just five states and twelve delegates, they changed the assigned task to addressing “defects in the system of the Federal Government”, and “devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union”.

It is speculated that failure to wait for the required quorum was deliberate by Hamilton and Madison for their pursuit of systematic, constitutional reform.  The attending delegates did acknowledge the lack of representation and defended their alternative pursuits “dictated by an anxiety for the welfare, of the United States”.  They also knew of the opposition to constitutional reform by those delegates who had not yet arrived.

By the end of the Annapolis convention, three rules had already been broken, failure to meet the quorum requirements, failure to address the assigned task by their legislatures, and creation of a completely new direction for constitutional reform which originated from just a few men.

A report on the convention was submitted to Congress with a recommendation for a second convention, while recognizing the exceeding of their “strict bounds of their appointment”.  Calling it a “Resolution”, on February 21, 1787, Congress called for a second convention, later known as the Constitutional Convention, “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several [state] Legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union”, held May 25 through September 17, 1787.  Declared as an “Act“, it was printed in newspapers for publication by the Continental Congress.

From this Act, state legislatures provided the instructions to delegates.  VA, NJ, PA, NC, DE, GA, NY, MA, SC, CT, MD, and NH, “appointed” delegates, “authorizing” them to attend the convention.  Rhode Island refused to appoint delegates.  The language to revise the Articles of Confederation and render the constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies of the Union is referenced in each letter.  Several states called for certain restrictions for changes during the convention.  Out of 70 appointed delegates, only 55 attended the convention.

This was the first and only convention called by the states, with the assigned purpose by legislatures of revising the Articles of Confederation.  What did happen is these delegates did not revise the Articles or make amendments as instructed by the congress, they created a new government structure, another broken rule.

Several delegates wrote about delegates exceeding their powers, James Madison, “it is admitted that the Convention have departed from the tenor of their commission.”; William Paterson, “”the articles of the confederation were therefore the proper basis of all the proceedings of the Convention. We ought to keep within its limits, or we should be charged by our constituents with usurpation.”; John Lansing and Robert Yates, who both left the convention in July because the powers assigned to them were being exceeded; and Luther Martin, “it being directly in violation of the mode prescribed by the Articles of Confederation for the alteration of our federal government.” are just a few.

The new Constitution was ratified by 9 out of the 13 states, violating Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation, “unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.”  This was the final rule broken.

This is the basis for concern by those who oppose a convention, often nicknamed a “runaway” convention, because history shows that is what happened.  Appointed delegates did not stay within the bounds of their assigned responsibilities by legislatures at Annapolis or by the Constitutional Congress during the Constitutional Convention.

Mark Meckler, previous co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, is co-founder and president of Convention of States Action (COS) and Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) (previously DBA Convention of States Foundation), following several previous dubious entrepreneurial endeavors, a temporary suspension of his law license, felony charge (later reduced to disorderly conduct), and interim Chief Executive of Parler.  One might want to give some thought about his activities before proceeding with support of COS.

While presenting itself as a grassroots organization, there is information that may indicate otherwise.

Listed on the COS 2022 tax form are the board of directors that include billionaire Tim Dunn; author and private investor Eric O’Keefe; CEO and Founder of Desert Royalty Company Kyle Stallings; private real estate investor Michael Ruthenberg; Timothy Murphy; attorney and lobbyist Robert Kelly; and Meckler’s wife, Patricia.  Former Senator Rick Santorum is listed as an independent contractor, compensated with $333,405.00.  The Idaho Republican Party was given $500.00 along with donations to Republican parties in other states, and family members of the board of directors were also compensated as employees.  Related tax-exempt organizations include Defending Liberty,

Influence Watch reveals the Convention of States Foundation (COSF) received funding from the National Christian Charitable Foundation; Armrod Charitable Foundation, having received over $3 million dollars from 2015 to 2019; Mercer Family Foundation, and Donors Trust, and is supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Koch Brothers.  There has also been allegations of violating campaign finance laws. (There was a Convention of States Political Fund in Idaho in 2022)

It might be worthy to ponder for a moment what these wealthy organizations motives are to fund such a cause.

This article written by Publius Huldah references Robbie George who Mr. Meckler states is on the COS Legal Advisory Board.  Mr. Meckler denies that Mr. George re-wrote the constitution, however, here is that rewritten document.

Rick Santorum is earning his compensation by giving interviews in support of COS.  Like Sen. Lakey, both bring up the issue of federal lands, yet the Idaho resolution only addresses a balanced budget, term limits, and limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.  COS has a longer list for potential amendments, clarifying “This structure limits the Convention to a small range of subjects while still allowing for multiple amendments to be proposed.”  There are raised concerns that should be thoughtfully considered.

34 states are needed to call this convention, if Idaho passes this application, the count will raise to 20.

Having reviewed documents from both the Annapolis and 1787 convention, below is a COS document that makes attempts to dispel concerns by those who oppose its efforts to hold a convention.  Does it hold up to what is in the Founder’s documents?

Can We Trust The Constitution? Answering The Runaway Convention” Myth by Tim Brown on Scribd

Mr. Meckler and his organization certainly present good arguments to proceed with a Convention of States, but the records left behind by our Founders do not support what he is saying.

It is not the current system of government that is the problem, it is the people who are not following it.  A good example is the proposed amendment to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.  This is already defined in our Constitution Article I Section 8, but elected officials are not following it.  There is little reason to believe with an amendment they would act any differently just as the Founders failed to stay within their defined responsibilities.

Sen. Lakey sponsored RS31257 / SCR112 which has been reported out of Committee with a Do Pass Recommendation.  If you determine that there should be concern over Idaho engaging in this convention, contact all Idaho legislators in the House and Senate and let them know of your opposition.

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