JBS Bulletin: September 2023


Sticking to Principles

by William S. Hahn, Chief Executive Officer

On September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia came to a close. After delegates spent three months crafting the document blueprinting the structure of the federal government, the U.S. Constitution was born from the ashes of the Articles of Confederation. Two hundred and thirty-six years later, another convention was held over three days that proposed such amendments as term limits, capping the number of Supreme Court justices, requiring a balanced budget, redefining the Commerce Clause, rescinding federal actions by a simple majority of the states, and prohibiting “the federal government from owning, regulating, or controlling land or mineral rights, except when granted permission by a state’s legislature.”

This fake convention was held by Convention of States (COS) and attended by handpicked delegates supportive of its mission to amend the Constitution. Yet, that’s not who would be at an actual convention that Congress would call. In fact, we don’t know who would attend, as Article V is silent about that. But since Congress calls the convention, it would be responsible for setting the rules.

We agree with James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, who wrote in 1788, “… I should tremble for the result of a Second [convention], meeting in the present temper of America and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned.”

Benjamin Franklin, the respected elder statesman at the convention, said, “I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected?” (Emphasis added.)

Would a Congress that thinks it’s acceptable to carry a $32 trillion debt and continue unrestrained spending be trusted to open up the Constitution with all its passions, opinions, and interests?

George Washington also questioned the need for another convention, wondering why “sensible men should not see the impracticability of the scheme.”

This impracticability was on full display at the COS convention. Most of the aforementioned amendments are already present in the Constitution, giving more credence to the reasoning that if the federal government isn’t following it now, why would it follow an amended version? In the case of term limits, the Founders had them in the Articles of Confederation, but chose to get rid of them. Alexander Hamilton wrote of term limits in The Federalist, No. 72: “Nothing appears more plausible at first sight, nor more ill-founded upon close inspection.”

The Founders saw holding regular elections as term limits, limiting each office to a specified number of years until those elected had to stand for election again.

Regarding a Balanced Budget Amendment, we contend that over 80 percent of the federal government now is unconstitutional, including its size, scope, and cost. Adhering to the Constitution would do away with wasteful spending, and allow the debt to be paid off.

Another example of a proposed amendment that already exists in the Constitution is one allowing a simple majority of states to rescind federal actions. As currently written, the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment already affirms that individual states — without needing to wait for a majority of states to agree — can ignore and nullify unconstitutional federal actions.

Likewise with the idea of forbidding the federal government to own certain land. Article I, Section 8 lists the enumerated powers of Congress, including Clause 17, which lists what lands the federal government may own and have authority over.

The short conclusion here is that if COS put its efforts into enforcing the Constitution as written, it would remove the uncertainty and high risk of the Constitution being rewritten — especially today, with all things going “woke.” Plus, the freedom movement as a whole would be much further ahead in reining in federal overreach and protecting the constitutional foundation of this country, instead of creating division among those working toward limited government.

Another source of division among the people is political parties. Again, had Americans heeded the advice of our Founders, the country would be much better off. Let’s recall George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address, in which he warned of the dangers of organized political parties.

He wrote, “… they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Cleon Skousen summarized in The Majesty of God’s Law, “Washington then went on to predict that if party politics ever became the established way of life in America, we would find that as soon as an election was over the winning party would undergo continual harassment from the losing party, and the losing party would employ every trick and conniving device to prevent the winning party from carrying out the will of the people.”

Seeing how this reflects the state of politics today, it may seem that Washington was clairvoyant. Rather, he was a student of history and understood that principles had much more staying power than human behavior. He correctly applied the devolution of human behavior away from principles to using the political-party system for self-promotion, glorification, and enrichment. Isn’t this what the Bible clearly shows us what happens as God’s people get further away from Him?

Skousen opens his book in Chapter 1 by citing a study of the books the Founding Fathers relied upon to get their ideas for the Constitution. He wrote, “Of the thousands of citations quoted to support their ideas, 34% came from one source — the Bible. Most of these were from the book of Deuteronomy which is the Book of God’s Law.” Indeed, even the Bill of Rights is a codifying of the Ten Commandments.

We would do well to stick to principles and not be swayed by the latest gimmick that promises to rein in the federal government, or by the completely foolish rhetoric of political parties that promise results through unconstitutional means. Our answer to their rhetoric is their voting record, as applied through the lens of the Constitution. Visit to download free PDF Scorecards of your congressmen and state legislators, and share them with others to help apply pressure on elected officials to better obey the Constitution and the founding principles of our Republic.

Realizing we as an organized body spend considerable time, effort, and resources playing defense for the Constitution, let’s not forget our strategy for offense: education. As JBS founder Robert Welch repeatedly said, education is our total strategy, and truth is our only weapon. Our Birching efforts help shape an electorate to see past temporary glitz, to overcome poor human behavior, and to employ the truth, all while standing on principles.

That’s less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world. Thank you for your courageous and tireless efforts in advancing this mission. 2023 has been an excellent year so far. Let’s finish strong!