What If They Hijack The Convention?

A continuing series of discussions of Mark Levin’s new book,
The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic

(Discussion #4 – Who controls the Convention to propose Amendments?)

Chapter Four of The Liberty Amendments is on tap for today: which is concerned with the concentration of power in the Supreme Court, and how we can restore integrity to that branch of government.

However, you’ll notice the title of today’s discussion is about the fears of a “hijacked” convention. Since we began these discussions, we’ve seen two strongly-negative sentiments crop up repeatedly. These sentiments are firstly, fear of a hijacked (or “runaway!”) process, and secondly, fear that it’s all too late, and we must give up the notion that we can change anything. The latter is occasionally expressed in an appeal that we all begin the lifetime-consuming process of enlightenment and salvation. While those are worthy goals, the nation will be long gone before they are achieved.

Other than those admirable, spiritual appeals, the rest of the negativity is, frankly, quitter talk. Nothing more need be said about it.

But the hijacking fears are different, because they are being used not only to dispirit us, but also to urge action in another direction. Many fear mongers claim the hijacking of the process by the various forces of statism, tyranny, and oppression is inevitable—that we must try extra-constitutional methods, instead. We covered the extra-constitutional pathways in Discussion #1. The major concepts there are:

  1. Nullification
  2. Interposition
  3. Secession
  4. War

Each of these suffers from increasing difficulty as you go higher up the list. All have been tried, and none of them has been successful as a path to Restore the union (although the last one did rid us of the scourge of slavery). You may have doubts about the Article Five second process, a convention of the states for proposing amendments. However, the second process carries one certainty that none of the listed alternatives share: the Article Five second pathway to amending the Constitution is unquestionably constitutional.

We need not be blinded to reality here: war may well be unavoidable. See the previous discussions for reasons why that is so. But we needn’t push for it, and we needn’t pursue tactics that pave the way for it. If it comes, it comes. However we are morally bound to attempt something legal and peaceful first.

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Getting in depth to the potential for a hijacking, you have to ask yourself, just who gets to run this “convention for proposing amendments,” anyway? Because in answering that question, you will see why a hijacking of the process is a very difficult thing, and success of such an attempt is unlikely.

So who does get to control the Convention? The answer is in the last line of the Preamble to the Constitution, which names our nation: The United States of America. Though the Constitution is ordained and established by The People, and the Tenth Amendment reserves powers not granted explicitly to the Federal government, “To the States respectively, or to the people,” the Constitution itself is a binding, legal instrument defining an agreement between the States and the Federal government which it (the Constitution) establishes.

In fact, the Convention in 1787 to propose changes to the “federal constitution” (meaning the political system used by the country) was requested by a majority of the thirteen States, and endorsed by the Articles Congress[1]. Delegates from the States drafted it. The States ratified it. Thus, the only entities empowered to alter this agreement are those specified in Article Five: Congress, or the States. That’s all. The people inside the federal leviathan are not a part of the Convention of the States process. They can lobby as citizens, and try to lure state legislators to do what they want, but there are over seven-thousand sitting legislators in the various States. It’s not a simple task, like buying a US Senator.

Further, as we’ve discussed, those representatives at the state level answer to YOU. In many cases their kids will go to the same schools as your kids. They might live in the same town as you. You can probably meet with them at a local coffee shop once a month. It’s a lot harder for a man in that position to risk making all of his friends and neighbors angry just so he can be considered a friend of the next potential Democrat to hold office in Washington.

Go ahead and doubt me on that concept. But a huge number of state legislators cannot afford to quit their day job in the community. Representation is a part-time thing for them, and in many states, the pay for being a representative is quite low[2]. You have enormous influence with these men and women. USE IT!



How do the States hold a Convention? The first hurdle to overcome in the process is for each State to “apply” to Congress to call for the convention. If every state calls for a different sort of convention, then they cannot meet the requirement to achieve the necessary two-thirds of the states needed to get Congress to call for the Convention.

Do you think Congress is going to be in such a hurry to give up power that they will pretend any and all applications are the same? Those two-thirds (which is thirty-three and one/third states – I do not see a provision for rounding in the Constitution, so I would make sure we get thirty-four states to be sure) of the States must apply for the same thing. If they have to apply for the same thing, they must get together somehow and draft such an “application.” Then they can all pass Resolutions requesting the same thing. These people are mostly lawyers. Exactness is their stock in trade.

So right away, just to get the ball rolling, the States have to ask for the same thing, meaning, “To send a delegation to a Convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution.” Here is where prudence will interject itself: each state will want to protect itself from the dangerous proposals of other states. Alabama and North Dakota, to name two examples of very Conservative states, can be counted on to protect themselves from the liberal tendencies of the Northeastern states to call for any amendment that they would not approve. So they will direct their delegation on what sort of amendments it will be empowered to discuss. Also, each state gets one vote, regardless of number of delegates.

Thus, if California and Maryland send a delegation empowered to discuss, “Free healthcare for anyone who lives in the United States,” then only the delegations so-empowered by their respective States will be able to vote on such a proposal. In other words, Alabama and North Dakota will be required to vote “no” or abstain. If a delegation exceeds its authority and decides to vote “yes” anyway, they can be dismissed immediately, which would render their votes null. How do I know this without being a lawyer? Because I would lobby for such a dismissal/nullification rule when meeting with my state representative, and I would make sure they included it in their application to Congress. They aren’t stupid. They’ll get it done.

Getting protection from hijackers is not going to be a huge uphill battle. The States’ legislatures exist to deal with State matters, not some huge, nationwide social experiment. Also, a sitting legislator who grants more power to the federal government is simultaneously making himself less powerful. They can definitely figure that out.

This process belongs to YOU! Step up and take charge of it, and ignore the fear mongering about hijacked processes. Hold your local representative responsible. Get to him or her FIRST, and visit them often.

That’s as far as I will take this argument. Please extend it and bash it in the comments!

* * *

Chapter Four of The Liberty Amendments is a proposal to limit the current ability of the Supreme Court to alter the meaning of the Constitution, unchecked by any other process or entity. The chapter is entitled: An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices and Super-Majority Legislative Override.

2013SCOTUS
Hey! We’ve already changed the Constitution three times, and it’s not even two o’clock!

I know no one who believes our Supreme Court has always made excellent rulings. In fact, most of us live in fear of nearly every ruling made by these unelected men and women. Fear, because in one single vote, perhaps depending on one justice alone, they can destroy our livelihoods, our schools, our food production systems, our banking, our ownership of property, and even our rights of citizenship. Even our friends on the left have the fear that certain rulings will be overturned and their lives will be disrupted, too. This state of affairs was not what the Founders intended.

Our Founders believed in accountability in all officials in government, and our Federal Court judges are among the least accountable of all high officials. We must find a way to limit the vast damage they can do to our Constitution with one single man or woman’s vote.

The first part of Levin’s proposed amendment is to limit the terms of Supreme Court justices to twelve years. He provides for this in three sections, two of which are necessary to state how the terms and vacancies must be handled.

The remaining sections are all concerned with giving Congress and the States a way to override any Supreme Court ruling when a super-majority agrees to do so. He provides language to prevent such overrides from themselves being overturned. He then provides a two-year limit in which to accomplish this override.

You should definitely read and re-read this chapter, since Levin’s proposal is something along the lines of what our nation needs to halt the runaway (Run Away!) train of judicial fiat. My one question is, since the two-year clock begins winding down rather fast, meaning that any override process needs to happen in both Congress AND the States simultaneously to have any chance of success in one or the other, how do we resolve priority between those two processes?

Think of that as your logic exercise. I really hope you will join the discussion so we can take this thing apart and understand it thoroughly. Don’t leave this up to the other folks out there. They’ll probably just hijack it or something.

Previously:

Discussion #3: An Invitation to Our Friends on the Left
Discussion #2: Run Away!
Discussion #1: Zombie Doctrine, Tactics, and the Liberty Amendments


Footnotes

1. The Constitutional Convention Did Not Exceed Its Power and the Constitution is not “Unconstitutional”
2. Empire Center: Legislative Salaries Per State

by K-Bob

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37 thoughts on “What If They Hijack The Convention?

  1. One suggestion on supreme court nominees is for the state legislatures to nominate them (one or more?) and then vote on them and majority wins. Also, a certain majority might remove one. This would put the supreme court at the mercy of the states. I am definitely for term limits on all levels, all elected or appointed positions.

    1. Yeah, I saw that article. It fails right out of the box. First it makes a claim that nullification is somehow the “right” way to do things. This, despite the fact that it’s been tried and failed, and isn’t recognized as legal, let alone constitutional.

      Then it claims people are somehow “ignoring” that failed ploy. It just continues to unravel from there, reading like an angry screed about Levin not being on “our side” or something (which is a clue that the hinges may not be quite tight). It definitely doesn’t read like a calmly-reasoned position paper.

      The article then claims that amendments are somehow an attempt to “rein in” the federal government and make it behave. Which just shows that the entire reason the founders provided a way for the States to re-assert control has gone right over the writer’s head. It’s all an attempt to convince people we must somehow use force (which we don’t have) and coercion (which requires some serious money–which we don’t have) to make people in Washington somehow do the right thing, while laughing at the Article Five process created by the Founders—specifically for times such as these—as being ridiculous.

  2. Fear of hijackers is legitimate, when you consider the ease with which the Boehner republicans hijacked the Tea party. We have to do a much better job of distinguishing between the genuine article and counterfeit.

    1. But guys like Boehner are far away, and only get home a few times per year. Plus these imperial princelings in DC make themselves quite difficult to access. If you go see your district Rep with two other people, and let him know you represent three or four neighborhoods in his district, he’s going to make time for you.

      It’s the unaccountable and distant federal types that have the power to hijack things in congress. Your state has to be more responsive (unless you live in New York or California).

    2. This process can’t easily be dominated by any single individual. Boehner, due to the rules of the House, established by the House, has power beyond his individual vote. The power in this process, is divided among the states evenly.

  3. Regarding the Supreme Court…no one deserves a job for life…

    The corruption factor is so great…as the left’s stooges have proven, yes that means you as well, Justice Roberts…Americans are not safe with lifetime appointments.

    Mark’s twelve year suggestion seems reasonable…after all Senators get six year terms…

  4. I put this up, but haven’t had time to respond to folks. Thanks for the comments!

    We really need some people to dig into the chapter, though and make sure Levin’s proposal makes sense.

    Is twelve years too few? Too many? Simple majority in the Senate to confirm. Or should it be a bigger majority? We need to tackle these questions.

    1. To be honest, I do have some questions about this particular amendment.

      A 12 year term limit seems like a good idea. I do have some questions about the rest of the amendment. I think some way to override a Supreme Court decision is definitely necessary. I’m just wondering about the specifics, for example, would there be a way to override an override, or would the override be the final word on the issue? How would overrides effect precedent?

      Not all Supreme Court decisions are the same. Some decisions can strike down all or parts of a law, and those laws can be federal or state laws. Some decisions may not strike down any statutes but may effect the interpretation of statutes into the future. Sometimes the decisions themselves can be a mixed bag, with parts of them being sound and other parts deserving of being reversed.
       
      I’m not saying that I disagree with the specifics that Mark proposes, but I think this issue is a little more complex than some of the other issues, like term limits or repeal of the 17th amendment, for example, and I think it needs to be thought through a little bit.
      .

    2. 12 years is too long. These offices should not become a career. Even 6 years may be too long. 2-4 years is just enough to let a politician with a burning goal accomplish that, and go home to face the consequences. They only churn out legislation and pork when they have too much time.

          1. lol good diversion! He went back on the weekend. Our Marine told him he can’t comment on livefyre, so he asked Scoop if he could go back to disqus, Scoop put up the question to the rest of us, and we all miss our Marine 😀

            1. And a good decision it was. Like you said the other day, it’s nice to see people commenting again. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had issues with Livefyre.

  5. Excellent post, as usual. Good point about how the state legislators are more accecible than our national representatives and less insulated from us, their neighbors. I hadn’t given that much thought.

    The most that you can say about the left, regarding this process, is that they may be able to resist it to some degree, if they decide to do so, but will be unable to hijack it (i.e. use it as a vehicle to further their agenda). There are just too many red states, and too many individual legislators in those states, to allow them to use this process to change the Constitution in the way they would like to.

    1. As well as strength in intelligence based on facts and truth. With leaders like Mark Levin (a modern day founding father) we can win in the arena of ideas. If we make excuses not to fight we are as much to blame as the liberal parasites who seek to destroy America.

      “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
      ~Abraham Lincoln

      1. Sarah has always been our example. She stands strong and does not blink. She has shown us how to be fearless. We have to stand together or we will lose everything. The GOPe eats it’s own, but not us. Mark Levin has even shown that he can reach out to Glenn Beck. I am not a Glenn Beck fan, but we do need to work together. Working together is what our Founding Fathers did to give us the greatest nation on earth.

      2. Our weaponry has been very quiet for a long time, and won’t be needed for some time, we have been, expertly , destroying our selves.
        An outside enemy would be proud, to have been able, to take the credit.

  6. All I can say is…. the sooner the better. Maybe it’s my advanced years (66 but healthier than an ox, I’m a 2-mile runner and a weightlifter), but I fear that this won’t happen in my lifetime. So shall we get on with it? This is one revolution that I want to be a part of.

    1. Agreed. I’m 51 and would love to see this implemented in my lifetime. In the meantime, I’d love to see another Tea Party wave in 2014 (like 2010) and someone like Ted Cruz, Allen West, Sarah Palin in the WH in 2016… all of these things would be a great step in the right direction. Combine that with a great national awakening to the truth and revival… and it would all contribute to the increasingly likelihood that you and I (and even our children and grandchildren) will see a brighter and saner future. I’ll do all I can to see this realized… for now, I’m on my knees praying for divine intervention.

      1. And God helps those that help themselves. I was at an E. W Jackson fundraiser a week or so ago and was talking to our primary delegate winner about this. He hadn’t read the book at the time but had the audio version and had a long trip coming up that was perfect for listening. He was pretty excited about it.

        E.W. is running for Lt. Governor in VA and it hasn’t been an easy as the Elites are really PO’d that he is basically a tea party candidate although he doesn’t call himself that. His motto is “Let Liberty light the way for vA.” Since he would be President of the Senate if he wins, this would be right in his wheel house. Ken Cuccinelli would be on board also. He and Mark Levin are having a campaign rally together tomorrow in Sterling. Plus we have a great American named Bob Marshall who is in the House of Delegates that is a huge Consitutionalist. VA has the potential of being the beginning of this journey.

        1. All of that is positive! I’ll keep my eye on him… thanks! 🙂
          Sorry to split hairs but I disagree with your first sentence (to a point). I don’t think that saying is from the Bible. However, if it is supposed to mean that we shouldn’t just sit on our bottom all day and do nothing, I completely agree.

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