A digest look at COS Rev: 5/7/16
Forward: The Constitution and Article V are very short narratives, but have a large scholarly library that can be formable in getting our heads around. Here is a collection of short highpoints that can be used as a basis for quick responses and an introduction to the legislative political process.
What is the problem
An over reaching federal government that doesn’t represent the people the way the Founders or Framers had intended. It has created a spending and taxing crisis and a regulatory crisis, converted the states into agencies by reducing their sovereignty and taken control of all decision making.
The separation of powers has been usurped by the Supreme Court by misinterpreting the Constitution and allowing the Executive and Congress to overreach their Constitutional Article I and II limits.
Who Decides? The Constitution grants the rights to the people and protects us from the government. As a Constitutional republic the states grant the federal government limited power to govern. America is a republic, not a democracy and as such, the people institute self-governance.
Question: Who Decides? We the People or the federal government? Five lawyers in black robes do not represent the People. Their job is to interpret the original intent of the Constitution. Article V gives us a way of fixing problems without going around the rule of law by misinterpretation.
Article V: “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;…”
The process of having a convention has a long and storied history. The Constitutional convention of 1787 was just one of forty to fifty non-amending conventions having occurred over the last 325 years. Go to azConventionOfStates.com, click on Menu, Education, History of the Convention for a summary of about 34. The Founders knew from their convention customs that the republic would use a convention for proposing amendments should it ever be needed. We’ve done this before. We know how they work.
HCR 2010, Arizona’s 2016 Application: Submitted in Jan ’16 (less the introductory boiler plate) by Rep Townsend. (Notice paragraph 3. was added in ’16 and precludes a runaway convention.)
- 1. That, pursuant to Article V of the Constitution of the United States, the Legislature of the State of Arizona formally applies to the Congress of the United States to call a convention of the states limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.
- That this application constitutes a continuing application in accordance with Article V of the Constitution of the United States until at least two-thirds of the legislatures of the several states have made application on the same subjects.
- That this application is revoked, withdrawn, nullified and superseded, retroactive to the date of enactment, if the application is used for the purpose of calling a convention or is used in support of conducting a convention to amend the Constitution of the United States for any purpose other than to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government or limit the terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress.
- That the Secretary of State of the State of Arizona transmit a copy of this Resolution to the President and Secretary of the United States Senate, the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, each Member of Congress from the State of Arizona and the presiding officers of each house of the several state legislatures, requesting their cooperation.
How the convention works
34 states call for an amending convention on the same subject and Congress sets time and place
Each state picks its commissioners, their quantity, makes rules & convention instructions.
Each legislature will write laws governing commissioners and consequences for misbehavior.
Each state has one vote regardless of the number of commissioners
Commissioners debate and vote on convention rules (the preliminary rules are at the COS website.)
The convention will break into various committees and sub-committees. Being an assembly, it is non-partisan and non-legislative. From Founding-Era practice, agency law would limit commissions.
Amendment proposals will be made, debated, voted on, sent to committee, and the process repeated. With the final vote of 26 states affirming a proposed amendment, a copy is sent to the states for the approval or ratification process. Congress will decide how states will decide: legislatures or by convention.
Convention Time Line
The start date for the amending convention is pure speculation. It’s estimated to be in 3-5 years when Congress receives the 34th states application. Probably 4-6 months to determine the date and location for the convention. After 3-12 months of preparation, the convention begins after 4-7 years. The 1787 Constitutional Convention was closed door & took about 4 months with ratification another two years.
Congressional and federal employee (SCOTUS) term limits
Repeal the 17th Amendment giving back to the states the power over the US Senate
Repeal the 16th Amendment on income tax
An amendment to allow the states to override a Congressional law or a SCOTUS ruling.
Hold accountable and limit the federal bureaucracy
Limit federal taxing and spending
An amendment to prohibit international treaties or laws to govern US law
An amendment to limit executive orders
Do you have a suggestion you’d like to see? After the first COS, there’ll be more.
Our federal republic is divided into two groups of governance: At the federal level: US Congressional Representatives and Senators. At the State level: two Arizona State Representatives and one Senator per LD or legislative district. AZ has 30 legislative districts.
It is much easier to visit, talk, and influence a state legislator than someone in the US Congress.
Legislators have lifestyles and live in neighborhoods similar to ours.
The most important person in the legislator’s office is the staff assistant.
When you call the office you’ll only speak to the staff. You may ask for an appointment to visit and discuss issues. Sending an email will go to the legislator directly.
Legislators want to hear from their district citizens. They want to know what you think for their future voting decisions.
An email should be respectful, brief and to the point with the gist in the subject line.
Begin a conversation with a friend, legislator, or a perfect stranger.
Ask if they think Washington DC is broken…
Then move toward a solution such as term limits or reining in power…
Explain the age old process of assembling conventions for proposing a solution…
Introduce the COS Project
Suggested response to legislators when they say…
“I don’t trust legislators…” (would you send someone of less character than yourself?)
“Sure we’ll go there with 3 topics but how do you stop others from being introduced?” (you’ll write the commissioners rules with penalties you decide on)
“We need the federal government to continue…(AZ already has an education dept, an EPA, food regulators. Why send money to pay for two? Why not send taxes to cover Article I, Section 8 only?)
“But this means giving up federal money…(keep the decision making and money in AZ in the first place)
“What policies does COS promote such as immigration?” (COS is non-partisan and doesn’t promote policy but rather a structural strengthening of the Constitution.)
“How many R’s or D’s are supporting this?” (Non-partisan. It isn’t about R, D, or policy but American’s)
Message for any political party
What if your district legislators are Democrats or Republicans? Won’t make any difference. This is about America and not party as we don’t support any candidates. Here are some talking points you can use:
- The Constitution states that powers not specifically given to the fed are reserved for the states.
- COS is proposing structural improvements through a safe, legal amending convention.
- Limiting or eliminating federal programs that states already have would improve bureaucratic efficiencies & keep more of taxpayer revenues in AZ
- States would be in control of their policies and programs, and regain their sovereignty
- States would fund the federal to perform tasks states can’t or shouldn’t do. (see enumerated powers in Article 1, Section 8 of Constitution)
- For D’s, use the words ‘justice’ or ‘fairness’ in your messaging. For R’s, use ‘patriot’ or ‘liberty’.
People: Sen Tom Colburn, Justice Scalia, Gov Greg Abbott, Sen Marco Rubio, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Colonel Allen West, Gov Mike Huckabee, Sen Ron Johnson, Gov Sarah Palin, Gov Jindal
Organizations: ALEC, Amac, Term Limits, Texas Public Policy, and many small organizations
The Jefferson Statement Constitutional scholar signers: Randy Barnett, Charles Cooper, Dr. John Eastman, Michael Farris, Robert George, C. Boyden Gray, Mark Levin, Andrew McCarthy.
Justice Scalia: “The founders inserted this alternative method of obtaining constitutional amendments because they knew the Congress would be unwilling to give attention to many issues the people are concerned with, particularly those involving restrictions on the federal government’s own power. The founders foresaw that and they provided the convention as a remedy. If the only way to get that convention is to take this minimal risk, then it is a reasonable one.” More: http://www.conventionofstates.com/justice_antonin_article_v_convention
Proposed convention rules: Twenty-four proposed rules for governing the states at the convention are now being reviewed by legislators who are a part of the COS Caucus in ALEC. See them here: http://www.conventionofstates.com/proposed_rules
Proposed AZ commissioner rules: AZ State Representative Bob Thorpe has written a proposed law (passed by the House but not seen daylight in the Senate yet) regulating the Arizona’s commissioners at the convention.
There are those who have not studied the convention process seriously and mis-speak the facts or outright lie about the history of Article V. Some choose to ‘read’ into the Constitution and its history their own conclusions. After all, the Supreme Court has done that with great regularity, witness the recent ACA and gay marriage rulings. It suits their political agenda.
Nullification is promoted as an alternative to Article V and suggests that the 10th Amendment allows each state legislature to nullify tens of thousands of laws and regulations from the federal registry. How many centuries would that take? Promoters include the Tenth Amendment Center and KrisAnn Hall, who travels the country preaching against Article V. Go here for more: [http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/04/article_v_movement_gathers_steam_critics_seethe_.html] and here [http://www.conventionofstates.com/is_nullification_the_answer] for more information. The short answer is that it’s impractical because the 10th Amendment establishes a principle or idea only while Article V establishes a remedy.
John Birch Society [JBS] was co-founded by Robert Welch in December of 1958 as a conservative organization. In the 60s and 70s, the JBS actively promoted their Liberty Amendment to limit the size of government through both methods of Article V: Congress and state legislatures.
John McManus, current leader of JBS, denies the early history of the Article V attempt even though it’s in the Congressional record. He says that COS has altered the terminology from constitutional convention to convention of states, which is exactly what Article V says. He also says it’ll be a runaway (see arguments). More: [ http://www.conventionofstates.com/answers_to_john_birch_society]
Eagle Forum’s founder, Phyllis Schlafly, is a long-time conservative and supporter of the JBS anti-COS line. She received a letter from her friend, Chief Justice Burger decrying the validity of an amending convention under Article V. It’s reported that he didn’t want an amending convention so as not to have to defend his unpopular vote in Roe v. Wade.
Publius Huldah, like KrisAnn Hall, travels the country telling lies and misinformation about Article V, mostly following the JBS line of a runaway convention. She hides her identity behind a pseudonym and here are links to sources: http://ballotpedia.org/Publius_Huldah and http://birchwatcher.com/who-is-publius/.
NAGR or National Association of Gun Rights is led by Dudley Brown. He is described as a “puppet master” and “a deep political operative in Colorado politics and nationwide.” He feeds inaccurate Article V information following the JBS line, purportedly, as a part of his business.
Fiction: The Constitutional convention of 1787 was a runaway because the delegates didn’t follow Congress’s call and instructions and instead of amending the Articles of Confederation, wrote a new document.
Fact: Congress didn’t call the convention, but Virginia called the Annapolis Convention & on Sept 11, 1786, agreed to meet in 1787 to “render the constitution…” and Congress approved on Feb 21, 1787, “…for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation…” It was left up to the states convention to decide the changes, one of which was the name change.
Fiction: The convention will be a runaway with progressive groups ripping out the 2nd Amendment and replacing it with something evil.
Fact: 1) There have been 40-50 colony/state conventions over the last several centuries and not one of them ran away. The convention of 1861 is the most famous. 2) There are 9 different organizations, COS is one, each calling for an amending convention of their own. Why not just take over ours? Because the subjects are different. 3) The rules of the convention only allow for one subject and any other will be out of order. 4) It only takes 13 states to say no. 5) It takes 38 states to agree and say yes to any amendment. 6) Paragraph 3 in AZ HCR 2010 voids itself if run away. 7) US political mood has shifted dramatically.
Fiction: An Article V gathering of states would be a Constitutional convention or con con.
Fact: A Constitutional convention is not authorized by the Constitution while an “amending convention of states” is authorized.
Fiction: What makes us think they’ll follow an amended Constitution when they don’t follow it today?
Fact: Because we actually have two Constitutions: the one the Supreme Court follows and the one written by the Framers. The purpose of the COS is to limit government by strengthening the Constitution.
Other Article V groups
There are nine organizations actively soliciting states for an Article V convention. Their single subjects include balanced budgets, term limits, free elections, and limiting government (COS).
COS Project Organization
The Project founded in Sept 2013 and as of April 2016 has 1.2 million members nation-wide, 12,000 of which are from AZ. The COS Project is under the fund raising umbrella of Citizens for Self-Governance founded by Mark Meckler. The COS Project is led by Constitutional Scholar Dr. Michael Farris who has litigated Article V and other issues successfully in front of SCOTUS and other federal courts.
How Citizens can help
We should all be talking to neighbors, family, co-workers, and church, club, service organizations etc about the problem and the COS solution. Next have them sign the petition and become a volunteer on the website. Read suggested books. Visit, make a phone call or send an email to your state Representative or Senator asking them to support COS. Become a district deputy or step up and lead your LD as a Captain. Or volunteer to help with efforts inside of AZ COS like Social media, newsletter, youth group, speaker corps, writer, education, IT, training, coalitions, etc. We need passionate Americans in our fight for our country.
Explore ConventionOfStates.com and azConventionOfStates.com
Download Handbook for Legislators and Citizens
- Liberty Amendments by Mark Levin
- Our Republican Constitution by Randy Barnett
- The Rule of Law: Why and How We Must Amend the Constitution by Dustin Romney
- The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom by Levy & Mellor
- Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty 2012 by Daron Acemoglu & Ames A. Robinson.
- Inventing Freedom by Daniel Hannan