Phyllis Schlafly

Attacks on the U.S. Constitution are coming from all sides. The New York Times opened its op-ed page to several liberal professors of government: One calls our Constitution "imbecilic," another claims it contains "archaic" and "evil provisions" and a third urges us to "rewrite the Second Amendment."

Out of exasperation with the flouting of the Constitution by Barack Obama and his acolytes, and the way Congress is letting them get by with these violations, several conservative authors and pundits are promoting the calling of a national convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. They believe a series of amendments can put our country on a wiser path.

The authority for such a procedure is Article V of our Constitution, so they are calling their plan of action an Article V convention. However, they are fooling themselves when they suggest that Article V creates a path to bypass Congress with a "convention of states."

The only power the states have under Article V is the opportunity to submit an "application" (petition) humbly beseeching Congress to call a convention. Hundreds of such applications have been submitted over the years, with widely different purposes and wording, many applications were later rescinded and some purport to make the application valid for only a particular amendment such as a federal balanced budget or congressional term limits.

Article V states that Congress "shall" call a convention on the application of two-thirds of state legislatures (34), but how will Congress count valid applications? We don't know, and so far, Congress has ignored them anyway.

If Congress ever decides to act, Article V gives Congress exclusive power to issue the "Call" for a convention to propose "amendments" (note the plural). The Call is the governing document which determines all the basic rules such as where and when a convention will be held, who is eligible to be a delegate (will current office-holders be eligible?), how delegates will be apportioned, how expenses will be paid and who will be the chairman.

Article V also gives Congress the power to determine whether the three-fourths of the states required for ratification of amendments can ratify by the state legislature's action or by state conventions.

The most important question to which there is no answer is how will convention delegates be apportioned? Will each state have one vote (no matter how many delegates it sends), which was the rule in the 1787 Philadelphia convention, or will the convention be apportioned according to population (like Congress or the Electoral College)?


Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
 
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