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Old March 3, 2013, 11:38 PM   #1
pnac
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Indiana Senate calls for U.S. con con

Does anyone see the danger if the Constitution is "opened" by a con con. A couple of years this narrowly averted in Ohio, as I recall. This post will probably be closed for being a drive-by, but the threat is real, so I'll just call it a heads up for members in Indiana. For those that don't know, a constitutional convention opens the whole Constitution and anything can happen.

It looks like the stated intent is good, and I agree with that intent, but the outcome could be a disaster!

From the article:

Quote:
NDIANAPOLIS | Frustrated by what they perceive as federal government overreach on taxes and regulation, the Republican-controlled Indiana Senate on Tuesday approved three measures calling for a limited U.S. constitutional convention.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution requires Congress call a constitutional convention when two-thirds of state legislatures request one. Senate Joint Resolution 18, which now goes to the House, formalizes Indiana's request.
Link:http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/g...7688c9f56.html
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Old March 3, 2013, 11:44 PM   #2
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Extreemly dangerous!!!! Do you trust todays "leaders" ??
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Old March 3, 2013, 11:45 PM   #3
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I don't know what a "limited constitutional convention is." The Constitution doesn't say anything about limiting the scope of what a convention might consider.
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Old March 4, 2013, 12:15 AM   #4
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You got it, Kyjim! If the Constitution is opened, any part of could be changed, the Indiana legislature would be only a small part of the voting process. A con con can be bad news and I think Indiana would be the 34th state needed to meet the 2/3 majority requirement.
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Old March 4, 2013, 07:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
A con con can be bad news and I think Indiana would be the 34th state needed to meet the 2/3 majority requirement.
So 33 states have already voted for a Constitutional Convention?

*EDIT: After some research, I have discovered that one scholar says that counting proposals over the past two centuries there are 33. Whether that will pass scrutiny is another question. Article V is pretty vague and has never been implemented, and some scholars say that all proposals must be worded exactly the same in order to open a Convention. All in all, there are more questions than answers and it would likely be left to the courts to sort out the requirements of calling an Article V Convention.
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Old March 4, 2013, 07:49 AM   #6
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With some of the things the government is doing and trying to do these days, is it any wonder people are afraid and there is such a rash of gun buying going on nationwide ? There seems to be a mass distrust in the government.
If the Constitution is opened there is practically no limit as to the damage that could be done.
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Old March 4, 2013, 07:49 AM   #7
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My first thought on this was much like KyJim's post. What is a "limited" constitutional convention? To my (somewhat cynical) ear, it sounds like "trying to have my cake and eating it, too." (by selectively editing out parts of the Constitution as it stands)
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Old March 4, 2013, 08:00 AM   #8
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When did 33 states vote in favor of having a "constitutional convention"? And even if that were true, a total of 38 states would have to ratify whatever is done at the convention for it to pass.
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Old March 4, 2013, 08:03 AM   #9
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Yeah, I don't recall reading any "limits" on constitutional conventions. A couple of things. First, can you imagine a group of people representing the states that could come together and agree on anything? I don't. Second, if there were a true threat of major changes those currently in power love the system as they profit from it. There is no way they would allow that to happen. They would claim it is treasonous, being held by "terrorist" and I am certain anyone that showed up would be arrested.

I read about all this a while back and discovered, to my surprise, that 33 or so states, indeed, had called for a convention at one point or another. There is no method for rescinding this call once it is made so it could be we only need two more to trigger the constitutional convention.

I am not losing any sleep over the threat of major changes as those in power do not want major changes.

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Old March 4, 2013, 08:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
My first thought on this was much like KyJim's post. What is a "limited" constitutional convention? To my (somewhat cynical) ear, it sounds like "trying to have my cake and eating it, too." (by selectively editing out parts of the Constitution as it stands)
Generally, from what I'm reading, "limited" means they want a Convention in order to pass a balanced budget amendment to rein in federal spending. Whether a limited Convention can be held is another question.

Quote:
There is no method for rescinding this call once it is made so it could be we only need two more to trigger the constitutional convention.
That is unclear. Several states have passed legislation to rescind previous proposals for a Convention. Whether these will be recognized will likely be left up to Federal courts. Since Article V is intended to give states the power to "check" Congress, it's very possible that they would be upheld. I would be highly surprised if states were forced into abiding by a proposal made a century or more ago by long dead legislators, but stranger things have happened I suppose.
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Old March 4, 2013, 08:20 AM   #11
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I am not doubting they want a limited convention, I am questioning under what authority they place these limits. I don't see any "limited convention" option in article 5. I am not a lawyer so maybe I am missing something.

The last time we had a convention it was proposed to amend the current system of government and actually ended up reforming the entire thing.
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Old March 4, 2013, 11:43 AM   #12
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While I have very strong opinions that the constitution needed an additional clause or two, with some further clarification on others, I feel that the net gain of reopening it is way too high risk of a situation to consider adding a little needed "punctuation".
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Old March 4, 2013, 11:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
The Constitution doesn't say anything about limiting the scope of what a convention might consider.
Or, as Alexander Hamilton (or other loose-constructionists) would say that the Constitution doesn't say that you can't have a limited convention.

Just a thought...
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Old March 4, 2013, 11:54 AM   #14
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I may dislike Hamilton more then Burr did, so it is probably best I not comment on him and his interpretations further then that

Being that the conventions do not have a charter, and really even if they did, a simple vote of the members present could change those limits. That does not mean the legislatures of the states would approve changes outside of some limit, but who knows?

I think calling a convention has been used in the past to force the Senate and House to act on proposed amendments and I think that is where this process is put to good use. As leverage the states have over the federal government. AS I understand it, the reason this works is because if there is a convention called the federally elected officials lose all their power to control the situation. I think we all know how much the feds love their power and how loathed they are to give any of it up.
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Old March 4, 2013, 01:20 PM   #15
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I can't say I think a con con would be more conducive to ANYTHING happening than the 100 or more amendments submitted for consideration in congress almost yearly from what I've read. Sure, we MAY get something loopy though I think that's a long shot. And repeal isn't unheard of.
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Old March 4, 2013, 02:10 PM   #16
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I can think of fewer things more frightening than another Constitutional convention.

It would lead to a rewrite of the Constitution to comport with "modern" concerns and principles, and it would be full of holes, compromises, and ultimately, the Bill of Rights would suffer the most.

Consider:

Quote:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
would become:

Quote:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, except for ____ denomination, or if the practice of _____ is prohibited by local law, or if _____ conflicts with or insults the values of _____; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, except in matters of national security, or hate speech, which shall be defined in USC ______; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, unless within 500 feet of a polling place, or within areas x, y, and z; or if said political speech offends _____, or is defined as hate speech, or violates provision ______ of the Patriot Act.
I shudder to think what would happen to the 4th Amendment. I submit that there is nothing to do with the wording or structure of the Constitution that needs to be updated. We need to look at our contemporary misinterpretations of it, not the original document.
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Old March 4, 2013, 03:10 PM   #17
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America is too divided on every issue. No way 2/3 of all states legislatures will agree on much of anything.
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Old March 4, 2013, 04:33 PM   #18
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The Constitution would end up being 8000 pages long, no one would read it before they approved it, nor would they have any clue what it meant.

Bad idea.
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Old March 4, 2013, 05:31 PM   #19
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This is by far the most terrifying thread I have ever read on this or any other forum.
The very thought of today's politicians reinterpreting the wisdom of our forefathers literally gives me goosebumps and turns my stomach.
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Old March 4, 2013, 05:38 PM   #20
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Again, 3/4 of states would have to ratify any proposed amendment "approved" in any constitutional convention or elsewhere.
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Old March 4, 2013, 08:15 PM   #21
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And as always, we'll have to pass it to see what's in it.
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Old March 4, 2013, 09:37 PM   #22
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Of course a Constitutional convention would be dangerous, but to whom it would be dangerous depends on who controls the conventions. And even if you can get 2/3 of the states to agree to call a convention, whatever it produced would have to be ratified which means you have to get 3/4 of the states to agree with the results.

In the past, when there has been a call for a "Con con", Congress has met the demands in question to alleviate the perceived need.

As to a "limited convention", it was just such a limited convention to fix the Articles of Confederation that produced the Constitution in the first place.
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Old March 4, 2013, 10:02 PM   #23
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And as always, we'll have to pass it to see what's in it.

And we must not forget that the Court may read a radically different interpretation into the amendment once it was passed. The Fourteenth Amendment was designed to incorporate the Bill of Rights against the States from it's inception, but years passed before the United States Supreme Court acknowledged that it did little more than grant citizenship to former slaves (which it also intended, but was not limited to). In all honesty, I see a bright future for our country, especially given how well it is performing relative to the European Union. Unfortunately, we have to battle these Constitutional issues today. Oh well. These things happen from time to time.
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Old March 5, 2013, 06:53 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cannonfire
Quote:
The Constitution doesn't say anything about limiting the scope of what a convention might consider.
Or, as Alexander Hamilton (or other loose-constructionists) would say that the Constitution doesn't say that you can't have a limited convention.
The Constitution says what the Constitution says. It places no limits on a constitutional convention. This is where the question of exactly what the preceding states voted on comes to the fore. If several called for a con con to amend the provisions for electing the Congress, while others proposed a con con for the purpose of amending provisions relating to taxes, and yet another bunch proposed a con con for the purpose of changing who is considered a citizen at birth, then we have one of two (or maybe more) possible scenarios:
  • There is no valid call because not all the states want it for the same reason; or
  • Once 2/3 call for a convention, everything is on the table regardless of why the convention was called
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Old March 5, 2013, 01:56 PM   #25
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Let's break Article V down into its component clauses:
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,
The above, are the only 2 methods by which the Constitution may be lawfully changed. There are basically 2 legal theories that are prominent in todays thinking.

The first being that the Constitution itself grants leave to be changed by amending it, by one of two methods. This is supported by the following statements within Article V:
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 the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;
You will notice that ratification, is made by either the State Legislatures or by the people in State Conventions (which can be as simple as a popular vote), as ordered by the Congress. In essence, it is not the people directly that ratify an amendment but by the States, by one of the 2 methods above, as directed by the Congress.

The essence of this first legal theory is that only amendments may be proposed, as the Constitution itself is protected from complete obliteration by its own language. There is therefore, no danger of destruction of the Constitution, by holding a Constitutional Convention (ConCon).

The second legal theory involves the precedent set by the First (and only) ConCon ever held. To that premise, these scholars hold forth Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation which stated:
Every State shall abide by the determination of the united States in congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a congress of the united States, and be afterwords confirmed by the legislatures of every State.
The alteration proposed by the ConCon, was to throw out the Articles of Confederation in its entirety, and substitute not only a new government, but a new Constitution.

So, which theory would actually prevail?

As in so many things, the only explanation that survives analysis is that past behavior can be predicative of future behavior.

The arguments over a ConCon, are many and deal not only with the subject matter of the convention itself but in how the actual application and call is made.

Many contend that once a call is made, a State cannot rescind it's call. Naturally, others contend that a State may rescind its call.

Currently, some people have said that 32 States have open Calls for a ConCon (for the purpose of an amendment for a balanced budget). These same people do not recognize that Alabama, Florida and Louisiana have rescinded their call. If a rescission is valid, then only 29 States have called for a ConCon for that specific purpose.

Then there is the case of Nevada. It made the call (for the reasons above), but later, the Nevada House of Representatives "purged" their call, but not the Senate. Is this call still valid?

Other arguments are over the subject matter of a call. Some say that a call must be made with specific subjects made in the application of the call. Others will argue that a blanket application may be made. Others say that any and all applications, that are still open, must be counted. Which, if true, would mean that we are long past the point that Congress should have made the Call.

What I think we can say with authority, is that once a call, by the US Congress, has been made, the Congress plays no further part nor has any power over what transpires.

While I agree with the Supreme Court1 that Article V is not ambiguous in any way, should the Call ever be made, the actual process of a ConCon is fraught with ambiguity. That should be enough to scare anyone.

1 United States v. Sprague, 282 U.S. 716 (1931): “[A]rticle 5 is clear in statement and in meaning, contains no ambiguity and calls for no resort to rules of construction. . . . It provides two methods for proposing amendments. Congress may propose them by a vote of two-thirds of both houses, or, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the States, must call a convention to propose them.”
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