Allen B. West

It’s time for a Convention of States, particularly since Congress doesn’t think so

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You’ve probably heard this story before. Following the Constitutional Convention in September 1787, Elizabeth Powel, the premiere “Saloniste of Philadelphia” approached Benjamin Franklin on his way out of the Pennsylvania State House and asked what form of government the delegates of the Congress had agreed upon. He replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

It was a simple challenge presented almost 220 years ago that resonates with a stentorian echo to this day.

When I travel the country, many folks ask what they can do, what can be done when the rule of law — the US Constitution — is clearly being violated?

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Well, it seems more than a few Americans have an answer and have accepted Franklin’s challenge – although it’s not something you’ll see widely reported in the media.

As Bryan Anderson writes for Investors Business Daily, “A very important meeting is being held in Washington this week, but career politicians, lobbyists and most in the media don’t want you to know about it. More than 100 state legislators from around the country are meeting at the Naval Heritage Center.”

“The Assembly of State Legislatures (ASL) will discuss the rules for the first-ever Article V Constitutional amendment convention. This is their third meeting. They’re preparing to take on Washington, and Congress doesn’t like it.”

“The Framers of the Constitution had the foresight to anticipate what Congress has become: a dysfunctional mess. In Article V they wisely provided a means for the states to step in and amend the Constitution largely without congressional approval. The state legislators in ASL are determined to convene an amendment convention. Our situation is that dire.” Sounds like it’s high time for a Convention of States.

Now of course the crowd inside the beltway will portray these patriotic and concerned Americans as “right-wing extremists” — but fi seeking to implement procedures the Founding Fathers bequeathed is extreme, then what is the future of our Constitutional Republic?

I find this to be a truly noble endeavor in understanding the constitutional basis of our country — and the application of the rule of law, which has been so clearly assaulted. Read my friend Mark Levin’s book, The Liberty Amendments, which clearly presents the sound legal and constitutional basis for this venture — and offers a series of amendments which could be instituted.

Consider this, we wrote just yesterday about the massive $1 trillion omnibus — or as it’s being labeled, “Cromnibus” (Continuing Resolution/Omnibus) – a spending measure being considered in a lame duck session, or else, we go into a government shutdown.

And how is it that the U.S. Senate did not pass a single appropriations bill this entire year — what are they doing? We have $18 trillion in federal debt, 20 percent of American households on food stamps, the Social Security Disability Income Trust Fund nearing depletion and an immigration reform debacle.

Some folks believe the country hasn’t been this mired in critical problems and so divided since the Civil War. And in all of this, Congress apparently cannot do the nation’s business.

The recent report on the CIA released by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, Dianne Feinstein, was just partisan political antics — certainly not good policy. Getting re-elected and the gimmickry of political chess are the only areas where Capitol Hill is successful. And challenging the status quo is frowned upon by both party establishments.

However, despite an 8 percent approval rating, over 90 percent of incumbents were just re-elected. Americans are beheaded and executed by Islamic terrorists, yet no one wants to declare war and properly prosecute a combat operation to defeat the enemy.

Is it any wonder the country feels helpless and is crying out for reform? What’s the solution?

As IBD writes, “The good news is: State legislators can force reform on Congress. The most important question for the Assembly of State Legislatures is: Which reforms are so popular that they could be adopted by 38 states and become Constitutional amendments? It won’t be enough for 34 states to pass applications and simply hold an amendment convention. Having support for reforms from 38 states must be the goal. (Thirty-eight states are required to adopt Constitutional amendments, 34 to call an amendment convention.) Doing otherwise — pushing for reforms that can never achieve approval from 38 states — plays directly into Congress’ hands. Congress and the Washington insiders want the states’ reform efforts to fail.”

The interesting point is that after the midterm elections of 2014, there are 69 of 99 state legislatures under GOP control — but the question is are they constitutional conservatives? If only 34 states can be mustered, then all efforts must be taken to Congress for a “mother, may I” application vote — and we know where that would end up.

I’d like to know where the new head of the Republican Governors Association, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslem, stands on this issue, and if he would support this constitutional initiative.

What type of amendments would I recommend? Well for starters those which are easy to grasp, such as equal application of the law (“Congress shall make no law applicable to the citizens of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress”), a balanced budget amendment, and term limits for federal office holders. For other great ideas, read Levin’s book, The Liberty Amendments.

If this initiative could be successful and set a precedent it could be continually used — after all, that’s why we have the 9th and 10th Amendments. This isn’t meant to be a way for states to take power away from the federal government but rather a necessity to ensure the feds operate within their constitutionally prescribed parameters. It’s not a punitive weapon.

America is a Republic and operates under the system and principle of federalism — as least we used to. There are countless instances when the federal government has superseded state law, some rightly so. However, with the unlawful immigration reform executive order along with Obamacare, we find our states being subject to the whims of the federal government. The convening of an Article V convention is a viable tool for the states and the people, to ensure they accept and stand up for Franklin’s challenge – a Republic, if we can keep it.

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