REBUTTING NICK DRANIAS’ REBUTTAL
10 Facts – to Rebut the Mythology of a Runaway Convention at an Amendment Convention
Prepared by Nick Dranias, Director, Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute
1. Article V does not authorize a constitutional convention; it authorizes a convention for proposing specific amendments.
An Article V Amendment Convention today will undoubtedly mutate exactly the same way it happened in 1787! This time around, the new constitution would NOT contain a “Bill of Rights”.
In 1787, the delegates attended a “Conference of States” to discuss the problem of commerce between the States. The delegates formed a committee of the whole, took a vote and declared the Articles of Confederation null and void. The Conference became a Run-away Constitutional Convention!
The delegates at that first Conference of the States were given strict instructions by the Congress they were to meet only for “the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.” Eleven of the twelve states specifically instructed their delegates to discuss nothing more than the commerce issue.
2. When the Founders drafted the U.S. Constitution in 1787, they specifically rejected language for Article V that would have allowed the states to later call for an open convention.
If they did reject language for Article V that would have allowed the states to later call for an open convention, where is it? Where could one search to find that language? It certainly cannot be found in Article V.
3. Thirty eight (38) states must ratify any proposal from an amendments convention, requiring a broad consensus that makes sure an amendments convention cannot “runaway.”
That is a lie, by omission! Article V states: “. . . when ratified by Legislatures of three fourths  of the several states, OR by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; …”
Congress decides the mode of ratification! State Legislatures can be circumvented by state ratification conventions. In other words, they can open Pandora’s Box only to discover they’re powerless to close it. There are no instructions in Article V as to who would choose delegates to a Ratifying Convention.
4. The limited scope of an amendments convention is underscored by the fact that it specifically says amendments cannot alter the equal number of votes for each state in the U.S. Senate without the consent of the affected state. This establishes that an Article V convention couldn’t simply rewrite the entire Constitution.
Article V has no such language!
In Article V we read: “. . . Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Amendment: . . . ”
(The first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section pertain to Immigration and Taxes, to wit:
Clause 1) ” The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such importation not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.)
Clause 4) “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration hereinbefore directed to be taken.”)
Then, Article V continues “: and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”
That simply means that each State will always have two Senators, regardless their geographic size or population.
Corpus Jurus Secundum is a compilation of State Supreme Court findings. Following is the collection of findings regarding the unlimited power of the delegates attending an Article V Amendment Convention. Legal experts have asserted that it would be highly unlikely that the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn findings from several separate and concurring State Supreme Courts. The foot-note numbers after the citation quoted reference the particular cases from which the citations were made.
Corpus Jurus Secundum 16 C.J.S 9
The members of a Constitutional Convention are the direct representatives of the people(1)
and, as such, they may exercise all sovereign powers that are vested in the people of the state.(2)
They derive their powers, not from the legislature, but from the people:(3)
and, hence, their power may not in any respect be limited or restrained by the legislature. Under this view, it is a Legislative Body of the Highest Order(4)
and may not only frame, but may also enact and promulgate, Constitution. (5)
6. The Constitution was sold by the Founders to the ratifying states on the basis that they retained their ultimate authority over the federal government through their Article V amendment powers. James Madison in Federalist No. 43 specifically argued that states should use the power to correct errors in the Constitution. And Alexander Hamilton in the “final argument” of the Federalist Papers, in Federalist No. 85, said the Article V amendment process was the means by which the states would rein in an out-of-control federal government. One cannot take the Constitution seriously and contend that Article V was not meant to be used. It is a critical and “deal closing” element of the balance of power created by the Constitution.
The Constitution wasn’t “sold” by the Founders to the ratifying states. They refused to ratify until the first Ten Articles of Amendment (our Bill of Rights) were added. It wasn’t fully ratified until 1789.
The U.S. Constitution in itself simply lays out the structure of the Federal Government, what the government can do, and what the Statescannot do. The first ten Articles of Amendment(Bill of Rights) are the ties that bind — the cage — that restricts the potential power of that government to run amok.
The Bill of Rights tells the federal government what it cannot do.
7. There is zero precedent that any convention of the states has ever “runaway” from its assigned agenda.
WRONG! That precedent was the very first — and ONLY — Conference of the States! 1787!
Once convened, the delegates locked the doors, nailed the windows shut so passers-by couldn’t hear, formed a “committee of the whole” (chaired by George Washington President of the Conference), took a vote and declared the Articles of Confederation null and void! Pow! In the sweltering heat and humidity from May ’til October they finally emerged with a wholly new form of government.
The Conference of the States became a runaway Constitutional Convention! It happened then and we are certain it will happen again if we don’t stop the process.
The planners had a new constitution waiting in the wings. Today we have the Constitution for the Newstates of America threatening our lives.
There have been 12 interstate conventions in the history of our country. All of them stayed within their stated agenda. Even the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was not convened to “amend” the Articles of Confederation, but to “revise” and “alter” the Articles to establish an effective national government. This was fully consistent with the Articles of Confederation because the Articles authorized alterations – a term that had revolutionary significance because it echoed the language of the Declaration of Independence. The broad purpose of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was specifically mentioned in the call of Congress and in nearly all of the commissions for the delegates for each state. The 1787 convention did not runaway at all; it did what it was charged to do – like all interstate conventions preceding it.
We’ve already responded to the above rhetoric regarding the first Conference of States and its instructions. The advocates are hoping people won’t do their own research. State legislators are kept busy with anywhere from two to five thousand bills and resolutions per session. We believe that insanity is designed to keep them too busy to know which end is up.
Comparing State Conventions to an Article V Amendment Convention is like comparing a rat to a dinosaur. State Conventions do not put the Constitution for the United States and our Bill of Rights in jeopardy.
(And, In fact, nothing good has ever come from a State Con-Con: among the most dangerous was erasing State borders to promulgate Regional Governance.)
8. The procedures for conducting an amendments convention are similar to Congress’ long-established rulemaking powers. Constitutional text, language and custom make clear that Congress calls the convention, setting a time and location; states appoint delegates by way of resolutions and commissions (or general state law); delegates initially vote as states at the convention; and majority votes will decide what amendments are proposed for ratification. An amendments convention is simply an interstate task force.
Nowhere in Article V, nor anywhere in the Constitutional text, is there “language” that decides anything regarding an Amendment Convention. There is no “custom” because there’s only ever been the ONE in 1787 which began as a Conference of States and morphed into a “runaway” Constitutional Convention!
In 1995 when the proponents of an Article V Amendment Convention tried to sneak it in a back-door, by calling it a Conference of the States, twelve states had passed the resolution before the end of January. Having been brought to a stand-still, The Council of State Governments (CSG) held a secret meeting at the Indian River Plantation in Florida, April 1st to bring it back to life. By the Grace of God, a gentleman was allowed (by the door guard) to enter that meeting. He took copious notes.
In that meeting legislators admitted using “sleight of hand”, no-hearing, voice vote to get the COS Res passed through quickly. Florida Rep. Will Logan “twisted arms, stuck his neck out”, etc. You can read it all here .
They mean business, and will pull out every trick in the book, including lying to legislators to get it done. And, as you will see, some of the legislators are in their pockets. They’re easy to spot because no matter what evidence is presented, they’ll vote “yes” when/if the time comes.
9. The limited scope of an amendments convention is similar to that of state ratification conventions that are also authorized in Article V, but no one worries about a ratification convention “running away,” even though such a convention does make law.
No one “worries” about a ratification convention because in over 200 year it’s been used only one time. Most legislators aren’t even aware that they can be circumvented by ratifying conventions. Why? Because advocates of an Article V Convention keep telling them there’s “no cause for concern because it takes 38 states to ratify”. They automatically hear “38 state legislatures”. We’ve seen the shocked faces when they’re fully informed.
Refer back to the No. 3 so-called “fact” by Nick Dranius. How would you read that if you weren’t fully informed? Be honest.
10. An amendments convention, because it only proposes amendments and does not make law, is not an effective vehicle for staging a government takeover.
Who in the world ever claimed an Article V Convention was a vehicle to a government takeover? Mr. Dranius must have run out of “facts” to offer the uninformed. Actually, it would be worse than a government takeover. We would lose our Bill of Rights, without which we’d all have been chopped meat a long, long time ago.
To learn more about the last three attempts to call for an Article V Amendment Convention, (or call it a Conference of States, or a Con-Con, it’s all one and the same), click here.