by Joel Skousen, World Affairs Brief
Twenty-seven states have an active petition before Congress calling for an Article V convention to amend the constitution. All are aiming at a Balanced Budget Amendment. Popular conservative radio talk show commentator Mark Levin is at the forefront calling for a convention. Texas governor Gregg Abbott is joining in the call, but for a much larger agenda (http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2016/01/gov-greg-abbott-calls-for-constitutional-convention-to-take-back-states-rights.html/):
The plan lays out nine specific proposed amendments that would:
Prohibit congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
Require Congress to balance its budget.
Prohibit administrative agencies from creating federal law.
Prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law
Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a federal law or regulation.
I actually like the scope of Abbott’s proposal since it would actually halt much of the unconstitutional use of federal power we are faced with, but there is no way a convention would back those proposals given the establishment control that exists in almost all state legislatures.
The definitive work on the legal and constitutional issues is by constitutional scholar John Eidsmoe, who also opposes a convention. Read it here (https://publiushuldah.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/a-new-constitutional-convention-by-john-a-eidsmoe.pdf). Since current calls for a convention are limited to a single Balanced Budget Amendment, I will simplify my arguments to the following two key points:
1) It is absolutely foolish to think that such a convention could bring us back to adherence to the intent of the founders—or stop the abuse of the constitution. There’s not a chance in hell that state legislatures, even conservative ones like Utah, Idaho or Oklahoma would send any true constitutionalists to represent the state. They will all be establishment politicians and lawyers, and will only do us damage. (This point does relate directly to gov. Abbott’s proposal.)
2) The stated purpose of a balanced budget amendment (BBA) is a trap and, at best, useless given the current state of Congress and its control by the Powers that Be. The Congress has proven for decades that they do not have the will to cut spending in light of the skewed manner in which the Executive is allowed to hold the nation hostage to a selective government shutdown—shutting off those services that hurt the public the most.
Most importantly, we already have a de facto Balanced Budget requirement in the debt ceiling limitation vote and it only takes 51% to stop more deficit spending. But most representatives fear being voted out of office by the benefit-corrupted majority if the cut entitlements. Because of the threat to the political careers of politicians in cutting spending to the degree it would take to balance the budget, all that a BBA would do is force Congress to raise taxes to balance the budget. Most politicians desperately fear offending those whose favorite programs are cut. There are too many votes connected with special interests for many congressmen to risk cutting deeply.