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Thursday, 14 May 2009 01:00

Oklahoma Rescinds All Previous Constitutional Convention Calls

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ConstitutionOklahoma continues to lead the nation in Constitution-oriented legislation at the state level. The Tenth Amendment resolution introduced in the Oklahoma legislature last year by Rep. Charles Key has led to at least 30 states introducing similar Tenth Amendment resolutions so far this year. These amendments call for the restoration of the balance of power between state and federal governments in accordance with the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. At least 12 states, including Oklahoma, have already passed a Tenth Amendment resolution in one or both houses.

Now Oklahoma has become the first state this year to rescind all of its previous applications to Congress to call a constitutional convention (con con). On May 12, Governor Brad Henry signed SJR 11, “A Joint Resolution rescinding applications by the Legislature to the United States Congress to call a constitutional convention.” This followed passage of SJR 11 by the Senate 45-0 on March 4; passage of an amended version by the House 90-6 on April 22; and finally, Senate passage of the House version by 41-2 on May 5.

Back in the mid 1970s a con-con movement sprang up to call a modern-day constitutional convention for the stated purpose of drafting a balanced-budget amendment (BBA) to the Constitution, and by 1983 it had led to 32 state legislatures asking Congress to call a convention as provided by Article V of the Constitution. However, as awareness spread that a constitutional convention cannot be limited to drafting a specific amendment — and in fact could draft any number of amendments including an entirely new constitution — the con-con movement sputtered and stalled.

Here's a video, "Beware of Article V," which shows just how risky a constitutional convention would be for our Constitution:



The John Birch Society (JBS) was instrumental in slowing and then reversing the momentum behind the drive for a balanced-budget con con. With 32 states out of the necessary 34 (two-thirds) already on record with con-con calls, our nation was only two more states away from a very risky con-con. However, since JBS members and allies got involved in this fight in the 1980s, not one more state has approved a balanced budget amendment con-con. What's more, these grassroots constitutionalists worked closely with their state legislators in many states which has led to 11 states rescinding (withdrawing) their BBA con-con calls as well as all of their other con-con calls for other purposes. So, now instead of 32 states on record with BBA constitutional convention calls, there are now only 21 states with "live" (unrescinded) BBA calls.

Nonetheless, a new constitutional convention threat has arisen this year. Hundreds of thousands of newly awakened Americans are being mobilized by the Tea Party Movement and the Glenn Beck 9-12 Project to form a grassroots movement in favor of some very good causes, such as lower taxes, less spending, and a return to a more limited federal government. In recent weeks the national leaders of both movements have been heavily promoting Professor Randy Barnett and his project of proposing 10 amendments to the Constitution by applying pressure on all 50 state legislatures to call for a con-con. Both Tea Party leader Michael Patrick Leahy and 9-12 Project leader Glenn Beck have featured Prof. Barnett and his project on their TV shows. If the leadership of these new movements persist in promoting this constitutional convention strategy, and if the local organizers and members adopt the con-con project, then we’re in for one of the biggest threats to our Constitution that we’ve ever had.

That’s why Oklahoma’s rescission of all of its previous constitutional convention calls this year, and by such lop-sided votes, provides such a hopeful precedent for the continued rejection of any new constitutional convention proposals by all state legislatures.

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