Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Ohio Constitutional Convention Resolution Killed by Grassroots Pressure

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Consitution imageOn December 10 the Judiciary Committee of the Ohio House held a hearing on House Joint Resolution No. 8 (HJR 8), “Applying to the Congress of the United States pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution to call a constitutional convention for proposing amendments.” A couple days earlier an AP article had stated that there could be a “possible vote” on HJR 8 at the hearing. However, pro-constitution citizens, including members of the John Birch Society, Campaign for Liberty, and other like-minded groups, had been alerted about the hearing late in the preceding week.

These highly networked citizens went to work immediately, and by the time of the December 10 hearing there was so much constituent heat on the House floor leadership and on members of the Judiciary Committee that the “possible vote” morphed into a testimony-only hearing. All ten people giving testimony at the hearing were strongly opposed to HJR 8 and to the very concept of calling a constitutional convention (con-con). As a result, no vote was taken at the hearing, ensuring no further action on the con-con resolution in the 2008 session of the Ohio state legislature.

The reason why so many citizens joined together so quickly to put pressure on the Ohio House to reject HJR 8 is that the threat to our Constitution was real. A constitutional convention could propose a radically revised version of the Constitution, which, if ratified, would become our new Constitution. Here's the video, "Beware Article V," which makes this dangerous aspect of calling an Article V constitutional convention very clear:

It takes the agreement of two-thirds of the states (34) to trigger the call for a constitutional convention by Congress. Ohio would have become the 33rd state to make a con-con call based on a balanced budget amendment (bba). And, even though at least ten states, Alabama (1988), Florida (1988), and Louisiana (1990), Idaho (1999), Utah (2001), North Dakota (2001), Arizona (2003), Virginia (2004), South Carolina (2004), and Georgia (2004), have already rescinded their con-con calls for a bba (and for other purposes) over the past 20 years, pro con-con forces would argue that these rescissions don’t count and that only one more state is needed to force a constitutional convention. That’s why it’s prudent to ensure that no additional state makes a bba con-con call. And, that’s why the Ohio citizens worked so hard and so fast to defeat HJR 8.

Citizens in other states should be on the lookout for bba con-con resolutions to surface in in 2009. With GOP rising star Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) already urging his fellow Republicans to push for getting a balanced budget amendment approved by the new Congress, it won't be long until the GOP leadership acknowledges that a bba is about the last thing the Democrat majority would approve, and recommends that the Republicans pursue the alternate route to a bba through an Article V constitutional convention. And, having 32 of the necessary 34 states already on record as issuing a bba con-con call will appear to be very low-hanging fruit indeed. This is the case even though ten of these states have already rescinded their calls, and that if the 10th Amendment still has any meaning, only 22 states still have a valid call remaining on the record.

Constitutionalists in the 18 states (CA, CT, HI, IL, KY, ME, MA, MI, MN, MT, NJ, NY, OH, RI, VT, WA, WV, WI) which have never issued a bba con-con call must be especially vigilant for con-con resolutions in early 2009. 

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