Curtis Olafson: America Needs A Constitutional Convention
The article submitted by “Game ND” (“From The Left: Why Are ND Republicans Promoting A Constitutional Convention?”) contains a significant amount of misinformation that warrants correction.
Game ND appears to have not researched the history of the deliberations of our Founding Fathers regarding the state-initiated Article V process when they adopted Article V during the 1787 Constitutional Convention. If he had, he would not have repeatedly used the phrase “Constitutional Convention” in his article.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”In reference to the state-initiated Article V process, Game ND also said, “It has never been used in the history of the United States.” The fact is that the state-initiated Article V process has been used hundreds of times via applications from the states to convene an Article V amendments convention on a variety of subject matter.”[/mks_pullquote]
Proposals were submitted to the 1787 Convention Commissioners to provide a process within the Constitution to convene a plenipotentiary “Constitutional Convention.” Those proposals were submitted not once, or twice, but four times. All were rejected in favor of the current language of Article V, which specifies that a convention convened by the states is “a Convention for proposing amendments.”
The phrase “Constitutional Convention” cannot be found within our Constitution. If the Founding Fathers had intended that the Constitution could or should one day be completely rewritten, they would have provided a process to do so. But, wisely, they didn’t.
This is far more than just semantics. The intent of the Founding Fathers is well-documented, most notably by the constitutional scholar who has indisputably written the most relevant and most expansive research on Article V. Professor Rob Natelson is widely regarded as the most respected constitutional scholar in our country regarding Article V. Read about him here. Read his article here as to why an Article V amendments convention is not a “Constitutional Convention.”
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”The bogus arguments against using Article V were originally concocted in the 1960s by those on the left. Professor Natelson has documented that history here. What makes that even more interesting is the fact that, today; the John Birch Society and the Eagle Forum are using the same thoroughly discredited 1960s leftist arguments.”[/mks_pullquote]
In reference to the state-initiated Article V process, Game ND also said, “It has never been used in the history of the United States.” The fact is that the state-initiated Article V process has been used hundreds of times via applications from the states to convene an Article V amendments convention on a variety of subject matter. However, efforts to convene an amendments convention on a specific subject matter have not reached the 2/3rds threshold required to force Congress to issue a call for a time and a place for a convention of the states.
Game ND also said, “The Constitutional Convention has never been used because the other way of proposing changes to the Constitution works just fine.” He and others who appear to not understand the intent of the Founders, or disagree with that intent, think that only Congress should have the power to propose amendments, and all of the power should remain in Washington, DC. So, how is that working for us?
It is also important to recognize that the state legislatures are the only entities within our Republic to which our Founding Fathers entrusted the unilateral authority to propose and ratify amendments. The Founding Fathers clearly had the greatest faith in the collective wisdom of 3/4ths of the state legislatures.
In 2011, when I first started traveling the country to encourage state legislators to introduce Article V resolutions, it was very unusual to find a state legislator who had even a rudimentary understanding of the Article V process. That has changed significantly, as is evidenced here in North Dakota and nationwide by the number of Article V resolutions introduced in 2015. Game ND is critical of the number of Article V resolutions introduced, but I view it as being a very positive sign that state legislators are finally awakening to the power the Founding Fathers wisely placed in their hands, and, expected that they would use. The North Dakota Legislature will be holding hearings on three Article V resolutions and one bill on February 5th. They will be heard in the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee. The bill and resolution numbers are: HB 1138, HCR 3014, HCR 3015, and HCR 3017.
Finally, it is not surprising that Game ND is opposed to the state-initiated Article V process. The bogus arguments against using Article V were originally concocted in the 1960s by those on the left. Professor Natelson has documented that history here. What makes that even more interesting is the fact that, today; the John Birch Society and the Eagle Forum are using the same thoroughly discredited 1960s leftist arguments. Game ND’s alliance with the JBS and the EF in opposing Article V proves the old saying, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”