September 17 is commonly known as Constitution Day, the day when at the end of a long hot summer in 1787, 39 Delegates from 12 states signed the Constitution. However, there is another day that should be celebrated just the same because it shaped how amendments are proposed and ratified to the Constitution.
On September 15, two days before the signing of the Constitution, Colonel George Mason of Virginia made the following observation (quoted from James Madison’s Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention):
“Col: MASON thought the plan of amending the Constitution exceptionable & dangerous. As the proposing of amendments is in both the modes to depend, in the first immediately, in the second, ultimately, on Congress, no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.”
After he said that, Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts moved to amend the article to require a Convention on application of 2/3 of the states. Madison did not see why Congress would not be as much bound to propose amendments applied for by two thirds of the States as to call a call a Convention on the like application. He saw no objection however against providing for a Convention for the purpose of amendments, “except only that difficulties might arise as to the form, the quorum &c. which in Constitutional regulations ought to be as much as possible avoided.” The motion of Morris and Gerry were then agreed to nem. con. (Latin for nemine contradicente, which means without contradiction; unanimously.)
That motion is the impetus for the convention method of Article V, the entirety of which reads as follows:
“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.” (emphasis mine)
Note the four ways amendments are added to the Constitution:
- 2/3 of both houses of Congress propose amendments, then ¾ of the State Legislatures approve (happened for 26 amendments)
- 2/3 of both houses of Congress propose amendments, then ¾ of the State Conventions approve (happened for the 21st Amendment)
- 2/3 of state legislatures apply for a Convention (of states) for the purpose of proposing amendments, then any amendments proposed at the convention (which requires a simple majority of the state delegations) are ratified by ¾ of the State Legislatures (never happened)
- 2/3 of state legislatures apply for a Convention (of states) for the purpose of proposing amendments, then any amendments proposed at the convention (which requires a simple majority of the state delegations) are ratified by ¾ of the State Conventions (never happened)
In other words, it currently takes 290 Representatives and 67 Senators to propose any amendment, and then 38 states (either in Legislature or Convention) to ratify them in order to be a part of this current Constitution. Many people know about that. What they do not know is there is ANOTHER way for amendments to be a part of the Constitution. That is 34 states apply for a convention of states for the purpose of proposing amendments. Then after 26 states vote to propose any amendment or amendments, they are then sent to the state Legislatures or Conventions to be ratified by 38 states.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments. One is that it will be a runaway convention, much like the Convention of 1787 was a runaway convention. That is the most popular misconception being pushed by the establishment Left, led by George Soros. Some conservative organizations, notably the John Birch Society and the Eagle Forum, are repeating. That misconception is easily debunked because ten of the twelve state delegations had the lone purpose to “render the Federal Constitution adequate to the Exigencies of the Union.” Two states (Massachusetts and New York) had that purpose but also had a second purpose of “revising the Articles of Confederation.” (Click here to read the credentials of the Delegates at the Federal Convention of 1787).
Soros has mobilized 230 organizations, like Common Cause and the Center on Budget & Policy (see video below or click here), to oppose the Convention of States Project, which seeks to use the convention method found in Article V to have Congress call a Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments which deals with three separate topics:
- Impose fiscal restraints on the federal government
- Limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government
- Limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.
The following video shows just how Soros is mobilizing organizations to oppose the Convention of States: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWMUUcr79OA
Here is a letter from the League of Women Voters, dated April 14, 2017, opposing the use of a convention to propose amendments: https://www.lwv.org/sites/default/files/Constitutional-Convention.groupletter.4-14-17.pdf
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also opposes the use of a convention to propose amendments. I say if Hillary is against it, then I am all for it!
As of this writing, 15 states have applied for the Convention, with 34 needed for Congress to have no choice but to call for it. As Federalist 85 says that “The words of this article are peremptory. The Congress “shall call a convention.” Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body. And of consequence, all the declamation about the disinclination to a change vanishes in air.”
The Framers put the convention method in Article V for such a time as this. It is time we heed their wisdom and USE it! For more information, go to Convention of States.