The Jury Talks Back

10/4/2009

Constitutional Convention

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leviticus @ 11:09 am

Article V of the Constitution states that Congress, “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which… 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.”

To my knowledge, such a mechanism was included to prevent the potential tyranny of a detached national Legislative Branch; that is, it provides an external means of regulating Congress – their selection, their tenure, and their powers. It’s a contingency designed to facilitate an end-run around an institution (hypothetically) too corrupt to reform itself. At least that’s my take on it.

My question, then, is this: given the current state of American politics – whatever your take on that rather weighty antecedent may be – would you support or oppose an application for a Constitutional Convention by your own state legislature?

I got some polling software, and I hope it works smoothly, but one way or another I’d appreciate it if you elaborated on your reasons in the comments section. I’m going to be doing some organizing around this issue with disaffected conservatives and liberals in my own state, and I would value the insights of this community as a contextual lens through which to view some of that work.

NOTE: This is the first of an extended series of posts I’m going to be doing at The Jury Talks Back, dealing mainly with big-picture solutions to the major problems of American politics – the first of which I deem to be a lack of true accountability in the American Congress. I’m going to be addressing a number of different ideas I’ve heard proposed as to how to fix that particular problem (as well as others), and I look forward to the sort of philosophical input you all can provide as people whose perspective on these matters (potentially) differs vastly from my own.

21 Comments

  1. What makes you think they’d improve it. I mean how do you keep the Rights to Housing, Jobs, Medical Care, etc out of it. Or maybe you expect every chucklehead politician will stay home?

    No, I stick with what we have as long as we can.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 10/4/2009 @ 5:21 pm

  2. Oppose. Today’s Constitution isn’t perfect, but I don’t trust the next one to be any better.

    Comment by Xrlq — 10/4/2009 @ 7:41 pm

  3. Yeah, I’m gonna have to oppose as well…

    I just don’t trust us to not much it up.

    Instead of getting a new one, I’d settle for us following the one we already have.

    Comment by Scott Jacobs — 10/4/2009 @ 7:42 pm

  4. My concern would be the scope of the proposed amendment(s). I would be open to specific amendments that were clearly identified, as with the 1970’s Equal Rights Amendment. I would be especially interested in an amendment that imposed term limits on members of Congress.

    However, I would be leery of an open-ended constitutional convention where amendments on any subject matter could be offered. I don’t think a state-originated movement could limit a convention to a specific subject matter. If so, IMO the risks of such an open-ended and unpredictable process would outweigh the probable benefits.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/4/2009 @ 10:45 pm

  5. I keep thinking of what a piece of crap that would come out if LaRouche-ites got control of the convention’s agenda.

    Comment by PCD — 10/5/2009 @ 10:09 am

  6. There is no practical method of restricting the scope of the convention…think 1787…they were just going to deal with the problems of interstate commerce and currency.
    But then, any and all proposed changes have to be ratified by 3/4’s of the States, and that could be a real donnybrooke – look at what it took to get the original constitution ratified.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! — 10/5/2009 @ 1:50 pm

  7. not just no but hell no. everything would be on the table and the same fools who elected Ear Leader would push for all sorts of idiocies, as well as trying to destroy various currently enumerated rights.

    better the devil we know.

    Comment by redc1c4 — 10/5/2009 @ 2:59 pm

  8. What I would prefer is a normal amendment adding an additional method of amendment: If 3/4ths (or whatever) of the states pass (within a 7 year period) an identical resolution calling for a particular amendment, then the question is placed before the voters at the next federal election, majority vote.

    This allows Congress to be bypassed when necessary, as might be the case when Congress is the body being reformed.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 10/5/2009 @ 10:47 pm

  9. Oppose. This is an issue that kept me from joining my local tea party, which is headed by a Con Con nut.

    Comment by gp — 10/6/2009 @ 10:54 am

  10. Oppose. Those who would be participating in such a convention – primarily politicians and lawyers – simply cannot be trusted to do it properly, as several commenters have already noted.

    Comment by Rusty Bill — 10/6/2009 @ 4:12 pm

  11. […] by Patterico: this post was written by our reader Leviticus and posted at The Jury Talks Back, my companion blog written by readers. I have decided to promote this post to the front page of my […]

    Pingback by Patterico’s Pontifications » Should We Have a Constitutional Convention? — 10/7/2009 @ 6:20 am

  12. I oppose any call for a constitutional convention for the following reasons:

    1) We don’t have the quality of national leadership present today as was present at the Constitutional Convention. Where are the Washingtons, the Franklins, the Madisons, the Monroes, etc? These leaders had thought and written for years about what type of government would be suitable for the united colonies. Our current elected leaders have little depth and breadth when compared to the experience of the founding fathers.

    2) The Constitutional Convention operated in secrecy. It would be impossible to do that today and the ability for reasonable people to debate and compromises would be extemely limited by the shrill voices in our media and blogs.

    3) The Consitutional Convention delegates were not funded (via contributions) by the special interests/lobbyests that exist today. No one can seriously claim that delegates to any constitutional convention would not be bought by the special interests.

    4) The number of “constitutional rights” found in our current organic document would be dwarfed by the number of “rights” included in a new constitution. IMHO, such rights should be limited in number and nature if the national government is to be able to operate for the common good.

    5) The original Constitutional Convention was instructed to propose changes to the Articles of Confederation. Instead, it proposed to demolish that governmental model and substitute a different model. There is no effective limit on what a constitutional convention can propose.

    6) Our Constitution provides for a process for amending that instrument and that should be sufficient for any tweaking/fine tuning that is necessary today.

    An interesting topic and I will be following the comments and discussion closely.

    Thanks!

    Comment by Page — 10/7/2009 @ 11:16 am

  13. Nothing material would likely be accomplished with this, but the exercise in itself would be useful in that it would give politicians something new to worry about.

    Since liberals do things covertly and conservatives do things out in the open, the convention would seem to benefit conservatives. And because so many sparsely populated states have conservative legislatures ( last time I checked ), there is actually an unbalanced playing field in favor of conservatives in that they should be able to always muster the states to defeat liberal amendments.

    Another advantage for conservatives is that state Democrats secretly want federal usurpation of states rights but they will have a problem openly voting for such usurpation since they represent the state and not the fed. And since they couldn’t succeed in passing a new liberal amendment anyway, they would only succeed in exposing their true intentions, and that would hurt the Democrats politically.

    Because of these safeguards against the liberals in a Constitutional Convention, I say go for it.

    Comment by j curtis — 10/7/2009 @ 11:59 am

  14. Just what is a constitutional covention? Who would be the delegates? Who would select the delegates?

    Comment by Ira — 10/7/2009 @ 6:48 pm

  15. This could be dangerous while these “thugs” are in office. So I oppose a constitutional convention.

    Comment by Thelma Lovett — 10/9/2009 @ 3:56 am

  16. One risk of a Constitutional Convention is that we may end up like California.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/10/2009 @ 10:25 pm

  17. On the other hand, I trust voters more than elected officials so maybe that’s a good thing.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/10/2009 @ 10:27 pm

  18. It’s too bad that our elected representatives cannot find it within themselves to limit disbursements to the amount of available revenue.
    But, as always, the NYT’s praise for a jurist appointed by a Republican governor is conditioned on his disapproval of Prop-8 – funny that they don’t mention his stance on the death-penalty.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! — 10/11/2009 @ 8:14 am

  19. I would oppose this 110%. With a leader like Obama and his cronies that want change and hope to pass their socialist/communist agenda we would be far worse off than we are now. Who do the Democrats think they are to change what has worked since the beginning of our country to try to change the face of America as well as their “Worldly” Agenda. Change is good but that’s what they want you to believe, are we turning into a Communist Country? If so, God help us all.

    Comment by CMS — 10/20/2009 @ 7:21 am

  20. Oppose. There is no reason to think Congress would pay any more attention to a new constitution than they do to the one we have now.

    In today’s political climate a new constitution would probably be at least 1990 pages. Simple concepts like, “All people are equal” would become, “All people are equal, but green people are especially equal.” But then yellow and purple people would not vote for it and it would never be adopted.

    Comment by Harry Phillips — 10/31/2009 @ 5:57 am

  21. I strongly support a Constitutional Convention. We need to structure the process first here on the net. The structure could be written into the petition for the convention. For instance, the present Constitution could be preserved. Any changes could be voted upon individually as ammendments. Ratification would be necessary. We people could participate on lne. This would be a long process. the people of People of Switzerland constantly update their constitution. We are responsible people. Where is all this fear comming from? Let’s make a plan.

    Comment by Bruce Eggum — 10/31/2009 @ 4:26 pm

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