Now that the Brennan Center and the John Birch Society have joined to wring their hands in terror over the possibility of an Article V Amendatory Constitutional Convention, it appears that the danger of a “Run Away” convention rivals the specter of an ISIS invasion on the list of horrors that should be keeping us all awake at night.
We are invited, nay, encouraged, to fret over the possibility that the ’special interests’ the super PACs, Wall Street and whatever other political bugaboo lights your worry lamp will surely take over the convention and use the occasion to wipe out what little may remain of our treasured life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
The truly sad part of all this is the fact that a good many intelligent and well meaning Americans, despite being convinced of the need for sundry constitutional reforms, are persuaded that the convention opponents are right, and so they whittle down their convention demands to accommodate the nay sayers.
What we have then – unhappily-- is a bevy of busy activists scurrying about, trying to sell the state legislatures on a smorgasbord of one issue petitions.
The strangest thing of all is the fact that these good people, although they are competing for a convention, have eschewed the rhetoric of competitors and have adopted the argument that what America really needs is not a convention to propose amendments (in the plural, as written in the constitution) but a whole series of conventions, each one charged with proposing one and only one amendment.
I have to confess that they do compete in one respect. They each have a plan to protect the American people from the admittedly real, however remote, possibility that even their ‘one issue’ assembly might, just possibly, get out of hand, and try to accomplish more good work than the proponents wanted.
It is possible. Even a one issue, one amendment, one day, one vote, ‘quickie’ convention might just go bananas and start trying to fix the whole government. A convention is, after all, a room full of people – human beings – and we all know how unpredictable human beings can be.
So now we have state legislatures, even before there is any probability of a convention in the near term, adopting complex, punitive statutes threatening convention delegates with imprisonment if they commit the crime of actually deliberating in common with other delegates.
The argument advanced by amendment proponents in the state capitals is that the state legislatures, in petitioning for a convention, actually control the whole convention process. They argue that the states founded the nation, the states adopted the constitution and the states are in charge of amending it.
Wrong. The states didn’t adopt the constitution. The people did. Certainly, the people who wrote and adopted the constitution were the people of the States. Until the constitution was adopted, there were no “people of the United States of America.” But once the constitution was ratified, the people of the States became ALSO, the people of the United States of America.
That’s what dual sovereignty, dual citizenship entails. We are the people of Texas, and Tennessee, Kansas and Kentucky, but we are also the people of the United States of America.
An Article V convention must represent the people of each State and the people of the United States. If it truly does, the people are not going to run away from themselves.