Anyone who has attended a national political convention knows very well that the guy with the gavel exercises ruthless power. I've attended 15 Republican National Conventions plus many other national, state and district political conventions, and I've seen every kind of high-handed tactic and rules broken with the bang of the gavel, including cutting off mikes, recognizing only pre-chosen delegates, expelling unwanted delegates, cheating on credentials and rules, fixing the voting machines, etc., etc.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a national hero for winning the case that persuaded a judge to declare ObamaCare unconstitutional, stated on the steps of the Capitol in Richmond on Jan. 17: "What about a runaway convention? Yes, it is true that once you assemble a convention that states have called, they can do anything they want."
That blows away the silly claims by advocates of a new convention, such as the so-called Goldwater Institute in Arizona (which was never known by Barry Goldwater), that the state legislatures can "define the agenda of an Amendments Convention," restricting it to a specific amendment or a single subject.
The Goldwater Institute cites Article V language that no state can "be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate" to allegedly prove that an Amendments Convention cannot "rewrite the entire Constitution." Au contraire. Saying that a convention cannot do one thing actually means that the convention can do everything else except that one thing.
Goldwater Institute spokesmen try to predict what procedures would be followed by an Amendments Convention, but in fact nobody knows what procedures would be used. Congress has defeated all bills that tried to establish rules, so we don't know how the delegates would be chosen, whether they would be paid, how they would be apportioned among the states, whether they would have to have a super-majority to vote out a new amendment, etc., etc.
Goldwater Institute spokesmen try to claim James Madison is on their side, but their history is as faulty as their arguments. Madison wrote: "Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first convention, which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a second."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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