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Re: National Constitutional Convention

This is in response to the FYI item in “What will you do for freedom?”

It’s probably fair to say that nearly everyone in the country is upset with some aspect of how it’s being run. So in the past couple hundred years, one answer has been to amend the Constitution. Some have given rights to people originally not entitled to them: women, negroes, 18-year-olds. Some have taken rights away, only to be again overturned, such as drinking alcohol. Some have directly changed the intent of the Founding Fathers: election of the President and Vice-President, direct election of Senators, and the establishment of the income tax (someone more knowledgeable than I can argue whether that really occurred). Some want to make an amendment to prohibit flag burning and to define marriage.

Being somewhat of a purist, I don’t really like to see the Constitution being modified except when necessary. If the Founders thought that drinking (or not drinking) was a Federal issue, I’m pretty sure that they would have said so. The same goes for flag burning and marriage.

Back in the 1980’s and maybe early 1990’s there were calls for a second Constitutional Convention to be held, with different groups proposing different reasons. Now we are seeing a return of these proposals by (I presume) different groups for different stated reasons.

In my humble opinion, this is not a good idea. I say that not only because I don’t want to see the Constitution drastically changed (although a repeal of some Amendments would be great!), but because there is a hidden danger.

Let’s do a quick history review.

In 1786 the country was operating under the Articles of Confederation. The Federal Government was weak and fairly ineffective in solving differences between the states. So a convention was called in Annapolis to determine how to strengthen the Articles. Only a few states showed up, but they agreed that it was necessary to make this happen. So they drafted a proposal that called for them to meet the following year in Philadelphia “to take into consideration the situation of the United States, 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“.

Six states agreed to the meeting, but the others were skeptical because it had not been officially called for by the Confederate Congress. It then authorized: “A Convention of delegates should meet ‘for the sole purpose of revising the articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall, when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States, render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union.” [empahasis added]  Six more states then signed on, and the Convention took place.

But once the Convention started, the doors were locked, the windows shut, and the talk was not of reforming the Articles, but of writing a new Constitution.  Yes, what they came up with was good, but to many historians, they had gone far beyond their authorization.

Now, back to the present.

Once a second Convention is started, it will assuredly be held in secret also.  But the people attending this one won’t be Washington, Madison, and Hamilton.  It will be Kennedy, McCain, and Bush (or substitute three of your own choices).  And the politicians that will vote yea or nay on the adoption of it are the same ones that we’re complaining about already.  Why would we trust them with shredding the only document that still holds our country together and replacing it with who-knows-what?

I strongly believe that convening a second Constitutional Convention is opening a Pandora’s Box.

nuke 726



One comment on “Re: National Constitutional Convention

  1. I think a convention would not be a bad idea from the standpoint of deciding whether to go back to a federal system or make the consolidation legal. I’ve just posted at http://euandus3.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/on-the-virtue-of-a-constitutional-moment-reconsidering-the-american-system-of-government/

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