Conservatives and others who value the liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution are often told by supporters of an Article V Convention (or as they prefer to call it, a “Convention of the States,” or COS) that a national convention to consider amendments to the Constitution is the best way to rein in an out-of-control government. They even accuse conservative opponents of such a convention of siding with liberals in opposing the movement for a Con Con.
Indeed, many conservatives have bought into the argument that a Con Con may even be the only way to stop the progressive Left’s subversion of the Constitution.
But recent events in Massachusetts bring this entire argument into question. The Bay State, home of some of liberalism’s most celebrated icons, such as Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry, is where lobbyists for the COS are making their latest push for a calling of a national constitutional convention.
COS lobbyists have even convinced the Massachusetts Legislature to schedule a joint House-Senate committee hearing on the topic for October 12, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Room B-1. The state is overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, who have a 32-6 edge in the Senate and a 126-34 advantage in the House.
If the Con Con is really a device to recapture our lost constitutional liberties and restrict the federal government’s ever-enlarging scope of control over our daily lives, then why would Massachusetts liberals support it? In contrast, many constitutionalists fear a Con-Con. Just a few months before his death, Antonin Scalia told a meeting of the Federalist Society, “A constitutional convention is a horrible idea. This is not a good century to write a constitution.”
The tailoring of their message to the intended legislative audience is not an entirely new tactic for COS lobbyists. Democrat-leaning legislators are told of all the wonderful leftist ideas that could be brought up at a national convention, while Republican-leaning lawmakers are assured that “conservative” ideas such as a balanced budget amendment (BBA), term limits, or certain restrictions on abortion can be written into the Constitution. (This illustrates a fundamental problem with the position of the pro-COS crowd. If Congress were to follow our present Constitution, the budget would be balanced, as much of the current spending is unconstitutional. But without restrictions on government spending, a balanced budget amendment would simply result in massive tax hikes.)
In Democrat-dominated states such as Massachusetts, legislators are told that a Con Con could reverse the Citizens United decision and repeal the Electoral College. And in this present emotionally-charged environment, chances would be good to pass a repeal of the Second Amendment, or at least a gutting of it. After all, if those on the Left are willing to gut the First Amendment’s protection of free speech by overturning Citizens United, why should we be surprised that they would attempt to achieve their long-time goal of ending the right to keep and bear arms?
Would any supporter of the Second Amendment want a Con Con in session during this present post-Vegas environment?
In Massachusetts, for example, “conservative” supporters of a Convention of the States have given up their provision for term limits in the bill in order to get the state’s legislature to petition Congress for a Con Con. Andy Schlafly of Eagle Forum noted, “By changing the language, the Convention of the States lobbyists are getting particularly desperate because that violates promises and also risks disqualifying the modified bill from being counted towards the 34 needed to trigger a Con-Con.”
Even in the highly unlikely event that a Constitutional Convention met and passed only amendments that constitutional conservatives would favor, would it ultimately make any difference? After all, we have a Constitution right now that does not authorize most of what Congress does. Presidents regularly ignore constitutional restrictions, sometimes boasting that they have “a pen and a phone.” And the Supreme Court is continually finding something in the Constitution that we know the Framers did not intend.
The proponents of the Constitutional Convention are essentially saying that there is something inherently wrong with our Constitution. However, the fault is not with the Constitution, but with the failure to follow it.
Why would we expect the voters who have chosen our present political leadership to send better people as delegates to a Con Con? At least we can replace members of Congress at the ballot box. But if the Constitution were changed by a convention, it would be almost impossible to reverse those changes.
And the fact that those backing a Con Con are prepared to gain the support of enemies of the right of free speech and the Second Amendment in order to have such a convention called raises an extremely serious question:
Just what is the motivation of the leadership of the Convention of the States movement?