Last Thursday, “The Article V Great Debate” brought a standing room only crowd to hear Dr. Michael Farris, FOR and Delegate Robert Marshall, AGAINST a potential Convention of the States. Special thanks go to these two for espousing their beliefs and the Manassas Tea Party for hosting the debate. [read_more]
Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows two methods to propose amendments. The only method that has been successful 27 times is when Congress proposes the amendment and the states ratify it. The other method to amend the Constitution comes when the States call for a convention to propose an amendment. Then the States would ratify it (or not). This second action would essentially by-pass the Congress. They would have only administrative functions, but no voting authority.Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of the Article V Debate. Mike Farris believes that the Government is out of control. The only way to fix it is to create structural changes to the Constitution — like term limits for Congress and Judges. He argued that certain contextual text needs clarification, like the Commerce and General Welfare clauses.
Bob Marshall believes that the People who make up the Government have allowed it to get out of control. The only way to fix the Government is to change the People who represent us. He argued that any Convention delegates might depart from their stated purpose. This happened with the Articles of Confederation and the convention creating our current Constitution! The country might end up with an awful amendment or worse, a new Constitution.
I’ll leave it up to others to decide who “won” the debate. Both gentlemen recognize that our country is heading in a bad direction and correction is needed, and quickly.
Bob is correct in the short run and Mike’s concerns are correct in the long run. Before you say that I am just being “political” with my answer, let me explain. Both solutions are needed for the short and long term fixes. Our country isn’t governed by men who are fighting for Liberty. It’s governed by men who are fighting for Power. More than any amendment, we need men and women who will honor and uphold their oath to the Constitution. We need them now.
For example, I asked the panel about impeachment. There is no need for “structural change” for impeachment. The Constitution as written and without amendment allows for the House to bring impeachment proceedings as a political solution to reprimand the actions of officials, like a president or judge. Impeachment is not a “civil” or “criminal” matter. It’s not a “legal” matter at all. It is a “political” matter to reign in persons who abuse power.
The Speaker of the House filed a law suit of doubtful legality. He could just follow the Constitution. We don’t need an Article V Convention to use the processes that the Constitution already established. Bob Marshall is right. We need elected officials who will follow the Constitution as written. And we need them now.
Right now, Congress can use Article III to adjust the Court structure, Article I to stop judges that legislate from the bench, and Article X to free the States from the overreaching of the federal government.
Later, our country will be better off if the Commerce and General Welfare clause are better defined, as Mike Farris reasoned. The U.S. will return to proper governance when a more precise structure for our federal system greatly limits powers in Washington. (For example, the Federal Government has no authority over education and should be prohibited from getting involved. It is a State matter.)
“Structural change” won’t improve governance — alone. For example, there is no guarantee that term limits will cycle in any better elected officials or judges. Therefore, as much as I believe we need long term solutions to amend the constitution precisely, if we had patriots willing to fight for Liberty in positions of authority, we might just not need structural changes at all.
The Article V debate will continue — and this is a good thing. Meanwhile, the people of Virginia and America need elected officials who uphold their oath. They must understand their Constitutional duties. Officials will serve better when the voting population is well-informed, find and elect those officials.