Members of the Alaska Legislature are seeking to pass a resolution applying to Congress to “call a Convention for proposing Amendments,” under Article V of the Constitution, otherwise known as a federal constitutional convention (Con-Con) or “convention of the states.”
Senate Resolution No. 2 (SR 2) calls upon the governor to direct the state attorney general “assess the number of other state applications” in existence, and to “institute legal action requiring Congress to call for a constitutional convention on behalf of the state” if the attorney general finds that more than 2/3rds of the states have applied for a convention. Considering Con-Con advocates’ aggregation of unrelated applications to deceptively reach the 2/3rds threshold, SR 2 would be a dangerous step toward throwing out the Constitution.
Additionally, House Joint Resolution No. 13 (HJR 13) has been introduced. It urges Congress to call a convention to propose a constitutional amendment “to set a limit on the number of terms that a person may be elected as a member of the [U.S. House and Senate].”
HJR 13 claims it is “for the limited purpose of” the various listed topics. However, any Article V convention, no matter how well intentioned, could lead to a runaway convention that would reverse many of the Constitution’s limitations on government power and interference. In other words, a Con-Con could accomplish the same goals that many of its advocates claim to be fighting against. As evidence, a 2016 Convention of States (COS) controlled simulation resulted in amendments massively increasing the federal government and expanding its spending powers.
Furthermore, term limits would do nothing to limit the federal government or improve our representation. For example, they would throw out the best congressmen along with the worst. Furthermore, term limits ignore the most serious problems our nation faces, including fiscally-irresponsible policies and lack of adherence to the Constitution. In fact, we already have term limits — elections — while formal term limits on the U.S. president, by contrast, have failed to rein in the executive branch.
The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia understood the danger of a constitutional convention. While he voiced support for one at a 1979 event, the justice had reversed his opinion by 2014 due to the uncertainty of what could come out of it. In 2015, Scalia reiterated his opposition to an Article V convention, stating “this is not a good century to write a constitution.” Furthermore, what kind of delegates would Alaska send to such a convention? Constitutionalist conservatives or RINO moderates and liberals?
Show me a single state where Constitutionalists comprise a majority of the state legislature.
At this point in history, an Article V Convention of the States would be a disaster.
In 1979, then-U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, correctly warned about an Article V convention:
If we hold a constitutional convention, every group in the country — majority, minority, middle-of-the-road, left, right, up, down — is going to get its two bits in and we are going to wind up with a constitution that will be so far different from the one we have lived under for 200 years that I doubt that the Republic could continue.
In addition to its unpredictable nature, an Article V convention also threatens U.S. national security. In 1984, when the U.S. was only two states away from Congress calling a federal constitutional convention under the guise of proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird wrote an op-ed warning of the perils convening a convention. Secretary Laird correctly noted that such a convention’s “scope and authority aren’t defined or limited by the Constitution.” Of the implications of holding such a convention, Laird warned:
If a convention were called, our allies and foes alike would soon realize the new pressures imposed upon our republic. The mere act of convening a constitutional convention would send tremors throughout all those economies that depend on the dollar. It would undermine our neighbors’ confidence in our constitutional integrity and would weaken not only our economic stability but the stability of the free world. That’s a price we cannot afford.
Both Goldwater and Laird considered an Article V Convention threatening to the continuity of the United States’ republican form of government. It would be foolhardy and downright reckless to disregard these and other legitimate concerns.
An Article V convention possesses the inherent power to propose any changes to the U.S. Constitution, including drafting and proposing an entirely new “modern” (i.e. socialist) constitution. Instead, the Alaska Legislature should consider Article VI and nullify unconstitutional laws.
Furthermore, state lawmakers should also consider rescinding any and all previously passed Article V convention applications to Congress, regardless of the desired amendment(s). Passing rescission resolutions will help prevent aggregating past Article V convention applications with those from other states to force Congress to call a convention.
Above all, urge your state representative and senator to oppose HJR 13, SR 2, and all other pro-Article V convention resolutions and to instead consider nullification as a safe and constitutional means to limit government.
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