An Article V idea to restore our republic

by Mike Kapic  March 4, 2017

The Arizona Senate has been reviewing a non-partisan Article V convention of states (COS) resolution that would link us to a process that is centuries old. While we’ve been arguing among ourselves about the dysfunction in Washington DC, the answer has been laying in plain view in Article V of the Constitution. Some claim that there aren’t any instructions on how to hold a convention, therefore ‘no one knows how’.

However, over the last 50 years, particularly in the last ten, several constitutional scholars (Caplan, Natelson, and others) have found and reported on the records of nearly forty successful non-amending and one amending convention. The idea that ‘no one knows’ is absurd. The records are available, for example, for the convention in 1684 in Albany NY. Or the 1861 Peace Convention in Washington DC. Or the 1889 St. Louis convention. The last one was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1922. The idea that ‘no one knows’ doesn’t make sense when you consider the records of 39 known conventions of the 40-50 held over the last three centuries. They are part of our history and just have to be read.

On September 15, 1787, two days before the signing of the Constitution, James Mason rose to warn the framers that authorization to modify the document had been given to Congress, but not the people. Two days later the Constitution was completed with the addition of the second phrase in Article V, “…or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing armaments…”

Of course, they didn’t describe how the convention works because conventions were occurring, on average, every 40 months. Everyone already knew how they worked. They were not legislatures, but an assembly sent by their state to propose a solution to one subject, debate it, vote, and return home, the approval coming from the states themselves.

The records also show that the operations rules were new at each convention. They show us that states had one vote, decided who and how many commissioners to send and even wrote statutes for misbehavior. The records also show us that when a different subject was introduced it was unilaterally rejected. The current COS has the single subject of ‘limiting government’. So, if another group wanted to introduce something that would alter, for example the 14th or  2nd Amendment’s it would be similarly rejected. Programs such as Social Security, Medicaid or the defense budget would not be considered germane to the single subject.

We the people, not Judges, Congress or the government have all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. We decide. To maintain freedom and remove an overreaching government, the Founders recognized that the people should control a small and limited government, first through their individual states, who then would control the federal. After voting, a COS is the only solution we have.

As citizens of the United States, it is our responsibility to know our options and use them when threatened by an overreaching government. It is up to us, not elites, to know how our Constitutional republic works and when to take action.