The Convention of States (COS) movement was started by Mark Meckler, a Tea Party organizer of some note. The COS describes its general purpose and plan here.
Basically the COS promotes the idea that, the best way to rein in our out of control government is to use the Convention power in Article V of the Constitution. With this idea as a premise, the COS is currently working to have the States call a convention for a specific subject: Limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. We have recently posted a link to a video, which explains in less than 7 minutes why this is a dangerous solution. You may want to look at that post.
While we disagree with the COS solution, we are concerned here with COS methods and arguments. Along these lines, I first want to point out recent underhanded methods used by the COS in New Hampshire. You should look at this brief one page newsletter for the details. The crux of the story is that a COS coordinator sent out an email accusing a NH State Senator of taking a bribe from The John Birch Society, to oppose a call for an Article V Convention. This accusation is ridiculous and the COS had to recant but if a friend of the JBS wasn’t informed about the email, who knows how long the lie would have gone uncontested? Consider the possible damage to the reputations of those opposing the COS. Is this a tactic they’ve used before or since? We have no idea.
After I viewed the video referred to above, A Crash Course on a Constitutional Convention, I read some of the comments. I ended up in sort of “comment debate” with a man named Brian Gross. A little research revealed that he is State Information Analyst and District Captain of the COS Action in Idaho. He used some deceptive arguments to oppose the JBS video and support an Article V Convention. Mr. Gross started out by commenting that the video was “nonsense” and “fear mongering.” When asked to detail his concerns, Gross indicated that the video inaccurately portrayed the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as a runaway. He also claimed it was nonsense to believe a Convention might change the ratification process. He referenced the Annapolis Convention of 1786 and claimed that the States empowered the delegates to write a new Constitution, with this language; “render the Constitution of the United States adequate for the exigencies of the Union.”. The truth is that the report from Annapolis called for a Convention in Philadelphia, for the following purpose:
“to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to report such an Act for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to, by them, and afterwards confirmed by the Legislatures of every State, will effectually provide for the same.”
Not one State thought “further provisions” meant scrapping the Articles of Confederation. The States expected these further provisions to be sent back to the STATE LEGISLATURES for unanimous approval. Instead A new Constitution was written and the ratification process was changed. Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation required that any alterations to the document must be agreed to by the Congress then “confirmed by the legislatures of every State.” The ratification process described by the report from Annapolis is in keeping with Article XIII. At the Philadelphia Convention, a new Constitution was written and sent to SPECIAL RATIFYING COMMITTEES in each State, with the understanding that nine States were necessary for ratification. Our founders gave us the best Constitution ever devised by man. It is, however, a lie to say the Convention did not exceed its mandate and change the ratification process.
Mr. Gross argued that, “the ratification requirement of 3/4 of the states is absolute, unambiguous, and written in plain English in Article V.” However, Article XIII seemed also to be, “absolute, unambiguous, and written in plain English”. Gross never deals with the fact that the State Legislatures were bypassed, in favor of special ratifying committees.
The COS does not want to admit the danger that exists, with the Convention method of amending the Constitution. Because the sovereign power of the people and the States can be used “to alter or to abolish” our form of government, according to The Declaration of Independence, an Article V Convention can not be limited. This was proven by the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.
James Madison, wrote this warning on Nov. 2, 1788;
“Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention which assembled under every propitious circumstance I should tremble for the result of a second meeting in the present temper of America and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned.”
The circumstances have since gotten worse.