10 Facts to Rebut the Mythology of a ‘Runaway Constitutional Convention’

The other evening, after posting my article “Why A Constitutional Convention May Not Be As Scary As You Think,” someone tweeted me & told me that an “Article V convention is unconstitutional.”

It immediately became abundantly clear to me that we have a lot more educating to do on this issue if we ever want to see an Article V convention to adopt something of vital importance like, say, a National Debt Relief Amendment.

I did some more snooping around at RestoringFreedom.org & uncovered another great resource from Goldwater Institute called, “10 Facts to Rebut the Mythology of a ‘Runaway Convention.’ “

Below are the first 5 facts.  #1 is perhaps the most important because it establishes the fact that an Article V convention–which is what the NDRA movement is calling for–is not actually a constitutional convention:

  1. Article V does not authorize a constitutional convention; it authorizes a convention for proposing specific amendments.
  2. When the Founders drafted the U.S. Constitution in 1787, they specifically rejected language for Article V that would have allowed the states to later call for an open convention.
  3. Thirty eight (38) states must ratify any proposal from an amendments convention, requiring a broad consensus that makes sure an amendments convention cannot “runaway.”
  4. The limited scope of an amendments convention is underscored by the fact that it specifically says amendments cannot alter the equal number of votes for each state in the U.S. Senate without the consent of the affected state. This establishes that an Article V convention couldn’t simply rewrite the entire Constitution.
  5. The states define the agenda of an amendments convention through their applications for the convention and through the commission of delegates. Amendments conventions can be limited to specific topics.

Read the other 5 facts here and if you have friends who are espousing irrational fears about an Article V convention, share this document with them.

We have a responsibility to fight misinformation with truth.

Nic Horton

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4 comments

  1. Hereandthere40

    I think its time to call for an amendment to put term limits on congress too! Great blog, you really take the time to fact check. I appreciate fact over fiction. Keep doing what youre doing!!

  2. John

    10 Point Refutation of the Goldwater Institute 10 Facts’s http://files.meetup.com/684064/10PointRefutation-TNA2707%5B1%5D.pdf
    Coleman is using The Goldwater Institute information in his arguments for a Con-Con.

    I am providing the following information below that needs to be read prior to any vote being taken on SJR1. It clearly states that a constitutional convention is not limited to a single item. A new constitutional convention would destroy America as we know it today.
    You don’t even know how the delegates would be chosen if their was a convention. Plus the states would have no control of the delegates.

    The following are opinions of legal scholars of the dangers of a Con-Con
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/brown.pdf
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/burger.pdf
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/cogan.pdf
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/fordham.pdf
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/goldberg.pdf
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/gunther.pdf
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/lee.pdf
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/rice.pdf
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/tribe.pdf
    http://stoptheconcon.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/wright.pdf

    The Dangers of a Constitutional Convention http://stoptheconcon.wordpress.com/dangers/

    YOU ARE NOT LIMITED TO A SINGLE ITEM. The delegates control the outcome.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_to_propose_amendments_to_the_United_States_Constitution
    Congress has the power to choose between two methods of ratification: ratification by the state legislatures, or instead ratification by state conventions called for that purpose. In contrast to those separate state ratification conventions, a convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution would be a single federal convention. While there have been calls for a second federal convention based on a single issue such as the Balanced Budget Amendment, it is not clear whether a convention summoned in this way would be legally bound to limit discussion to a single issue; law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen has suggested that such a convention would have the “power to propose anything it sees fit”.[4] All 27 amendments to the Constitution have happened in a procedural sense by going through Congress and not through state legislatures.[4]

    Michael Stokes Paulsen is a Constitutional Law professor with lots of references and clot.
    Here are some documents everyone needs to read prior to rushing in and doing something they will long live to regret.

    THE OTHER WAY TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION: THE ARTICLE V CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION AMENDMENT PROCESS
    III. UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION THROUGH A CONVENTION
    Go to page 1010 of this pdf document. http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No3_Rogersonline.pdf
    Because the United States has never used an Article V consti‐ tutional convention to propose amendments, these questions have never received definitive answers. This Article’s position is that Congress does not have the power to limit a convention. The text and history of Article V indicate that Congressʹs role in calling a convention is merely ministerial. The original purpose of Article V was to give States the power to circumvent a recalcitrant or corrupt Congress. It thus makes little sense for it to give Congress broad power to control a convention. In light of the text of Article V and its purpose to empower States, States should have the power to limit the scope of a convention and to limit their applicationsʹ validity to only a certain topic. The original purpose of Article V also indicates that States’ applica‐ tions should be grouped and counted by subject‐matter.

    The Yale Law Journal
    Michael Stokes Paulsen
    How to interpret the constitution (and How Not To)
    http://www.yalelawjournal.org/pdf/115-8/Paulsen.pdf

    HOW␣TO␣COUNT␣TO␣THIRTY␣FOUR:␣THE␣ CONSTITUTIONAL␣CASE␣FOR␣A␣CONSTITUTIONAL␣ CONVENTION␣
    by MICHAEL␣STOKES␣PAULSEN*␣
    http://www.harvard-jlpp.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Paulsen-Combined.pdf

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