Article I, A case for a Convention of the States

It was in 1980 that I started to become aware of politics. I had just joined the Navy and was seeing the transition from the Carter to the Reagan administration. Of course Reagan was for a strong military and that made being in the Navy an exciting place to be. I believe that was the beginning of my conservative philosophy. Strong military and limited government became my mantra.

Over the next 30 some years I would hear politicians talk about term limits for career politicians and balanced budget amendments. They promised that , if elected, they would put forward the bills and propose amendments to get our government back on course. Of course, as you know none of this was done. And now I understand that the problem is so much bigger than just entrenched career politicians and an unbalanced budget.

At the core of the issue is a government that has allowed the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution to become perverted. They have ruled to political preference (the Supreme Court) or delegated their legislative powers (Congress) or ruled as a king (the president) in ways that fit their political aspirations or commitments to their financial contributors and political action groups. They do this at the detriment of the foundational principles of the Constitution. Of limited government. Of government of the people and by the people. The principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And we have often complained but seldom seen correction.

Over the course of our nations history there have been states that have understood the overreach of our Federal government and have chose to combat it in a couple of different ways.

The Southern States tried seceding from the union in an event that became known as the Civil War. Of course there has been much discussion about whether the primary issue was states rights or slavery. Each side often differs on what the war was about but it often falls to the victors to declare what is written in the history books. Since then there have been several states that have threatened to succeed. I believe that it is well understood that there is a violent end to this path and it is not a very effective solution to curbing federal overreach.

Some say that nullification is the answer. States should simply site the Constitution and specifically the 10th amendment to declare laws passed down from the federal government as unconstitutional and not follow them. This to me is just nonsense. Let’s say you have a highway bill that is tied to what the state considers unconstitutional requirements in order to receive the funding that is being offered. So the state nullifies the law and does not comply. But there are 49 other states that are more than happy to comply and thus receive the funding. So the citizens of the first state are now upset because their state did not receive the funding and there really has been little effect on the federal government as far as limiting their power. Now consider the tens of thousands of laws and regulations that are coming from the federal government and it can quickly be understood that this method of controlling the federal government is rather ineffective.

The other option is for the state legislatures to submit amendments to the Constitution for ratification. This is the only solution of the three that is part of the Constitution itself. It was added to the constitution by the founders specifically to reign in an out of control federal government. The founders understood that there would be a time when the government would not be able to manage themselves and the states would need a mechanism to bring them back in control. This is laid out for us in Article V of the Constitution.

Over the years there have been many applications submitted for these amendments but because there has not been a cooperation of two thirds of the states on any one topic they have gone no where. Today however there is progress being made. An organization called the Convention of States Project is organizing the states to call a convention specifically for limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. This project is gaining momentum and needs our support.

Currently seven states have submitted their application for a convention and 30 other states have active organizations working to get the application passed in their legislatures. This is a legitimate path to reigning in the out of control federal government.

I believe I have laid out a reasonable explanation of the different paths we can take in putting our government back on the right path. Electing the right people to be our representatives is important but I believe it is no longer effective. Secession is an exit strategy not a means to put the government right. Nullification is simply ineffective.

A Convention of States is the only reasonable solution to our problem. It is the only solution that is part of the Constitution itself. It is the only solution that was given to us by the founding fathers specifically for the problem that we are facing.

It is now our responsibility as citizens to do our part and exercise the power that is given to us as citizens and states to reign in the out of control federal government. Please call and write your state representatives and tell them that they need to support an application for a convention of the states to reign in the federal government.

Steve Jacobsen