Making Amendments: It is time to reign in our government.

I have just received my copy of The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic by Mark Levin and it is already becoming one of the most important and fascinating books I own. There is a huge amount of information, here, and quite a bit to discuss and digest. On first glance, however, it looks to me to be a reasoned, effective approach to beginning to correct the disastrous course we’re on. Since I’ve just gotten the book, I’ll be writing more on this in future posts but I can start talking about some of the material now.

Levin’s book is a suggestion that we avail ourselves of a procedure provided for in Article V of the US Constitution, that article dealing with amending the Constitution. Now, as most every American knows (or should know) the process for passing a new amendment requires that both the House and the Senate pass the amendment by a 2/3rds super-majority and that 3/4ths of the States then ratify it. What may be less known is that there’s a process for amending that doesn’t involve Congress. If 2/3rd of the States call for a convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution then that convention may then propose amendments which can then be sent to the States for ratification. If then passed by 3/4ths of the States, then those amendments become parts of the Constitution and are thereby binding on the federal government. Neither Congress nor the President can veto such amendments nor alter them in any way outside of the amendment process described in Article V.

I want to be very clear about something that I’ve heard in grumbles here and there: this is not a call for a revolution and most certainly not a call to violence. Quite to the contrary, Levin speaks highly the position of Virginia delegate to the constitutional convention in 1787, George Mason, who argued that Article V needed to include a method of amendment outside of Congress. Says Levin:

In particular, George Mason insisted two days before the Constitutional Convention’s end that there needed to be a lawful and civil way to address an oppressive federal government, which he believed inevitable, short of violence and revolution.

As described in the notes of James Madison, Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, Saturday, September 15:

Col: MASON thought the plan of amending the Constitution exceptionable & dangerous. As the proposing of amendments is in both the modes to depend, in the first immediately, in the second, ultimately, on Congress, no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.

Mr. Govr. MORRIS & Mr. GERRY moved to amend the article so as to require a Convention on application of 2/3 of the Sts.

“…if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.” In other words, Mason was concerned that Congress would never propose amendments that would limit their own power. Prescient.

Now, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over the dire peril into which such a convention would place this country. The usual hue-and-cry is something along the lines of the “runaway convention” scenario wherein a convention, called for the purpose of making a single, specific amendment, would suddenly run amok and wind up repealing the entire Constitution. Nonsense. In order for anything whatsoever to be ratified into the Constitution a 3/4ths majority vote is required. That means that just 13 states voting in the negative will kill the amendment. Anything that goes wild in the convention will never make it past the states, so this is just fanning the flames of paranoia by people who really, really don’t want the problems we’re facing dealt with decisively.

I’ve believed for years that the path to correcting our impending collision with curtailed freedoms and fiscal destruction was simply working to get the right people elected and have them actually do something. That’s a nice thought, but it’s clear that it doesn’t work. The people that have the ability to run for office make a career out of simply getting re-elected and the ones who really would fix the problem are too few. It’s time to avail ourselves of the other method of checking the federal government’s encroachment and disconnect from the idea that we, the People, are the ones in charge. I think we should give a convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution a serious try.

In The Liberty Amendments Levin puts forth 11 suggested amendments. I’ll be addressing them all here over the next couple of days. Stay tuned.