Dunaway at First Friday

Today, Rita Dunaway was the featured speaker at the First Friday gathering in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  She spoke in favor of the Convention of States project, a group which is working to convince state legislatures across the country to call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution under the provisions of Article V.  Several years ago, Ms. Dunaway spoke at First Friday on this topic.

For those who haven’t heard her speak on the subject, I recorded her speech on my phone.  However, shortly into the question and answer period I received a phone call which cut off the recording.  In addition, as the restaurant was somewhat noisy, you may need to turn up your volume in order to hear it properly.

Enjoy!

Black Responds to Farris

Senator Dick Black on Lobby Day 2015
Senator Dick Black on Lobby Day 2015

VC Note: About an hour ago, Senator Dick Black released the following response to Mike Fariss’ opinions made in a previous article. 

As you have observed from the last several posts, there are a lot of opinions from a number of political figures in and outside of Virginia.  Although I have heard arguments in favor and against an Article V Convention and have friends on both sides of this debate, I was greatly disappointed by some of the statements made by Mike Fariss to disparage Senator Black.  Although I will admit that I side with Senator Black on this matter, my hope is that regardless of one’s position on this issue, we can remain rational and civil and not launch into personal attacks and declaring one side or the other is resorting to incite hysteria (unless such a claim is undeniably true).

Farris Attacks, With Spittle Flying; Senator Black Issues a Gentleman’s Response

Here is THE TEAM SEN. BLACK rebuttal to Mike Farris:

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL: “Michael Farris, J.D., LL.M., Constitutional Lawyer & Chancellor of Patrick Henry College

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, George Mason of Virginia insisted that there would come a day when the federal government would abuse the authority it was given under the Constitution. Mason therefore insisted that the States be given the power to propose amendments to the Constitution to rein in the Federal Government. Mason said that Congress would never propose amendments to restrict federal power. And he has been proven right.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  Mason was in a minority of only THREE delegates to the 1787 convention that took this view.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL: “Dick Black’s “Urgent” Appeal is false, deceptive, and demeaning to all Virginians. Here’s why:

1. BLACK CREATES A FALSE IMPRESSION OF IMPENDING CHANGE TO THE CONSTITUTION.

Black claims that “Virginia will vote to change the Constitution of the United States in a few days.” This is a far cry from the reality both as to the timing and as to the scope of the Convention. Virginia is set to vote on whether to begin the process of considering the proposal of specific amendments to the Constitution. We are years away from making any amendments (34 states must first approve the call, the convention must be held, and 38 states must ratify any proposals coming out of the convention before any change is made to the Constitution.

 

Black claims that Virginia could be the “tipping point” to get to 34 states. This is based on the idea that many states have already called for a convention, and that adding Virginia to the list would bring us to the needed number.

This claim is demonstrably false and nothing better than a blatant attempt to incite panic.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  This claim is not false. There is nothing in Article V that requires a petition for an Article V convention to specify a certain topic. It only requires a petition to be made. Mr. Farris has no legal foundation to make his claim that a petition for an Article V convention is required to identify a specific purpose for its request, nor that there must be 34 matching petitions asking to address the same subject in order for the 34 state threshold to be met. If he has such proof, he should provide it.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “The two specific resolutions in front of the Virginia General Assembly are for an Article V Convention to limit federal power and jurisdiction (HJ 497) and an Article V Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499).

Three states have passed the first application, and 24 states have passed the second. Virginia would not be the 34th state for either measure.

Black’s assertion that Virginia could be the tipping point is based on the clearly erroneous assumption that Article V applications can never be rescinded.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  Senator Black makes no such claim. In fact, in 2004, then “Delegate” Black was co-sponsor of a resolution to rescind Virginia’s previous application for an Article V Convention that stated in part:

“WHEREAS, the operations of a convention are unknown and the apportionment and selection of delegates, method of voting in convention, and other essential procedural details are not specified in Article V of the Constitution of the United States;”

This passed the House of Delegates 91-5 (Lingamfelter voting Yea) and the Senate 37-0. (HJ 194 – 2004)

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “Every serious Article V legal scholar understands that rescissions are valid. I personally litigated a case regarding rescissions of ratifications of proposed constitutional amendments under Article V. The federal court holding is that rescissions of ratifications are indeed binding. Idaho v. Freeman, 529 F.Supp. 1107 (D.Idaho 1981).”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  The ruling on this case was stayed by the court on Jan. 25, 1982. As such it is technically not binding.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “The simple truth is that we are years away from voting on actual amendments to the Constitution. If these applications pass, Virginia will be the 4th state to call for a Convention of States to restrict federal power and the 25th state to call for a Balanced Budget Amendment. These applications can only trigger a convention where amendments will be debated, drafted, and then sent on to the states for ratification. They will “change” the Constitution only if ratified by 38 states.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  According to Mr. Farris’ own organization, we are not years away. Rita Dunaway, who works for Mr. Farris, stated in a public meeting on Jan. 10th that they were no more than one year away (two at the outside) from calling a convention.

 

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “2. LIBERAL ORGANIZATIONS CITED BY DICK BLACK ARE NOT “PUSHING FOR THIS.”

Black claims that George Soros, Code Pink, MoveOn.org, New Progressive Alliance and 100 other liberal groups “are pushing for this.”

None of these entities have endorsed or “pushed for” the Convention of States (HJ 497) or a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499) in Virginia or any other state.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  There is nothing in Article V that requires state petitions to be for matching subjects, nor is there any legal foundation that can be pointed to that can limit an Article V convention to the subjects specified in the petitions of the states.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “Not one of these entities even mentions Article V on their website (georgesoros.com, codepink.org, moveon.org, occupywallst.org, and newprogs.org). Not once. Moveon.org mentions Article V of the Wisconsin Constitution and Article V of the Geneva Convention. The Occupy Wall Street website includes reader comments discussing Article V. But not once is there any mention of Article V of the U.S. Constitution by these organizations. Pure silence.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  MoveToAmend.org lists all the supporters of amending the constitution for the purposes of limiting money in politics. Wolf-Pac.com (funded by George Soros) specifically lists an Article V convention as a preferred tool to amend the Constitution. Under Section 3, it states, “Once we have found those states that are the most receptive to joining this battle with us we will focus our time, effort, and money on them until we get that vital and historic first state to call for an Article V. Convention for the purpose of limiting the influence that money has over our political process. According to Article V of our Constitution, Congress must call for an amendment-proposing convention, “on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States”, and therefore 34 state legislatures would have to submit applications.” http://www.wolf-pac.com/the_plan

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “Dick Black’s source for this claim is a website operated by a group that is seeking an Article V convention for a wholly different purpose. This group seeks to repeal the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. The organization listed are endorsing the repeal of Citizens United. No organization with that movement has “pushed for” or endorsed either the Convention of States (HJ 497) or a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499) in Virginia or any other state.

Black’s claim that these liberal organizations are “pushing for this”—referring to the bills slated to be voted on by the Virginia General Assembly—is a blatant falsehood.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  There is no legal foundation that allows anyone to limit the scope of an Article V convention. It doesn’t matter why Mr. Farris seeks to call one. Once a convention is convened, it can consider any amendment it chooses. If Mr. Farris has any legal foundation to back up his claims, he should provide it.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “3. WE DO KNOW HOW DELEGATES ARE CHOSEN

Dick Black says that there is no law which states how delegates to the Convention are chosen. There was no such law in place in 1787 when Virginia chose its delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The legislature had the inherent power to appoint delegates—who represent Virginia—and it did so. The Virginia General Assembly has that same power today, and it comes from Virginia’s sovereign power and Article V of the Constitution.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  An Article V convention will be called by Congress, not the states. As such Congress has the power to determine whether or not the States will even be represented at said convention. If Congress does decide to include the states, they can decide to give states proportional representation, similar to the Electoral College. If Mr. Farris has any legal foundation to back up his claims, he should provide it.

 

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “4. THE CONVENTION WILL BE LIMITED TO PROPOSING AMENDMENTS THAT LIMIT THE POWER OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

Black claims (citing a video by the John Birch Society) that a convention cannot be limited to the subjects identified in the state applications, but will necessarily throw open the entire constitution. In fact they claim that our original Constitution is invalid because it, too, was adopted by a “runaway convention.”

This argument has been thoroughly discredited.

Dick Black needs to explain why he is listening to and promoting these dangerous people, who have admitted that they will pursue secession if their “plans” for nullification are unsuccessful.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  It is not Senator Black that needs to provide proof of his claims. It is up to Mr. Farris to provide proof of the legal foundation that he claims will allow him to limit the scope of an Article V convention. No such legal foundation exists. If Mr. Farris has such legal foundation to back his claim, he should provide it.

Furthermore, the convention delegates themselves decide upon the rules governing what can be discussed at the convention. Just like every convention convened throughout history. One of the first orders of business at a convention is to vote upon the rules of said convention. The delegates themselves make that decision. They are not bound by the subject matter of any specific petition for a convention.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “5. CONGRESS HAS NO CONTROL OVER THE CONVENTION ONCE IT IS TRIGGERED.

You can see from the text of Article V itself that Congress only has two duties with regard to the Convention mechanism. It aggregates the applications and “calls” the Convention once 34 states apply for a Convention to propose a certain type of amendments. Then it chooses between two specified methods of ratification for any amendment proposals that come out of the Convention—each of which requires 38 states to ratify.

The term “call” used in Article V is a legal term of art with regard to the Convention process. To “call” a Convention is not to control it, determine its rules or decide who represents the parties! Rather, to “call” a Convention is to announce the date, time and location for it to facilitate its occurrence. Virginia “called” the Constitutional Convention in 1787. But did it unilaterally determine the rules or select the delegates from other states? Of course not!”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  Review any “call” for a convention and one of the things you will see spelled out is who shall be eligible to be a delegate, how many delegate “votes” there will be, and where those votes shall come from, including whether or not there will be weighted voting, among many other issues. The “call” for a convention does not merely set the time and place. It provides the structure for the convention.

The 1787 convention did not have such a requirement that Congress “call” the convention, but Article V of the Constitution does. If Mr. Farris has any legal foundation to prove otherwise, he should provide it.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “Some of the arguments made by Dick Black are matters of opinion, and as such, are not untruthful per se–even if they have been rejected by most legal scholars. But when he says that Virginia could be the “tipping point,” and when he says that George Soros and Moveon.org are “pushing for this,” he has spoken untruthfully about material facts.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  Mr. Farris provides to you a vision of how he believes an Article V convention should be called and run. If it indeed ran that way, we would probably support him. Unfortunately, he has no legal foundation to back up his claims, and he is putting the very founding document of our Country at great risk if he is wrong.

We are not willing to take that chance.

Cuccinelli’s Thoughts on Article V

CuccinelliVC Note:  Shortly after Delegate Lingamfelter’s email, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sent out his thoughts on an Article V Convention of States.  Interestingly, this issue seems to be creating a significant wedge in the conservative movement in Virginia.

 

 

Dear Friend and Fellow Virginian,

One of the most unique and important discussions among constitutional conservatives is taking place right now in Virginia’s General Assembly.  It is the debate about whether the states (including Virginia) should exercise their rights to call an Article V Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution to limit the power of the federal government.

While I have good friends whom I respect on the other side of this debate, I support the effort of the states to call such a convention and I wanted to share my reasons with you.

I would note that there is a body that sits for nine months every year, “defining” our constitution, and sadly it seems to regularly undermine the original meaning of that sacred document… always seeming to grow the power of the central, federal government.  We call this body The Supreme Court of the United States.

We can continue to idly watch the Supreme Court and the federal government eat away at the constitutional foundation of this country, or the states that founded it can make an effort to limit the runaway growth in the power of the federal government.  Frankly, I don’t see – nor has anyone suggested to me – a viable alternative to the Convention of States.

The usual argument: ‘we just have to elect people who will rein in the federal government’ has not worked.  I would note that the Founding Fathers expected to be disappointed, and they tried to design a governmental system with checks and balances to curb the natural excesses of mankind, including a way to rein in the federal government when it got out of control.

Virginia’s General Assembly will vote to take the first step to rein in our runaway federal government in the next few days.  Your support is urgently needed!  The vote looks like it’s going to be very close.

Our Founding Fathers gave the states a method of proposing amendments to our Constitution to rein in the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.  Proud Virginian George Mason insisted that one day the federal government would outgrow its bounds, and when that day came, the states would need to have the ability to amend the Constitution to limit the power of the federal government.  An Article V Convention of States is the specific recourse he and our Founders put in the Constitution for that purpose.

I’d like to ask you to stand with George Mason and our Founding Fathers and tell your Virginia legislators to support HJ 497, HJ 499, and SJ 269!

Here are 3 Simple Facts that I Think Opponents are Getting Wrong:

1. The States Control the Convention Process

A Convention of States was put in the Constitution for the express purpose of giving the states a way of limiting the federal government.  Under Article V it takes 34 states to start the convention process.  Then the states appoint the delegates to the convention.

No matter what Congress would like to do to influence or attempt to ‘control’ the convention, they have no authority to do so.  The convention can ignore anything Congress ‘says’ about the convention.

Finally on this point, and in my mind critically, 38 states have to ratify any proposals coming out of the convention before they become part of the Constitution – this is our ultimate ‘backstop.’  Put another way, at a time when Republicans control more state legislative chambers than ever before in my lifetime, only 13 legislative bodies (e.g., only the House of Delegates, even without the Senate, on behalf of Virginia) may block ANY proposed amendment.  Blocking votes are the most important, and there are more conservative states than liberal states; additionally, Republicans control approximately double the number of state legislative chambers across the country as Democrats right now.  That’s as good a backstop as we’re going to get – and don’t forget, the Supreme Court is out there whittling away our constitution and increasing the power of the federal government even as we debate this question.

The process is state-driven from beginning to end, and has numerous checks and balances to ensure its safety.  Our Founders knew what they were doing.

2. Virginia is focusing on Amendments that Limit the Power of the Federal Government.

HJR 497 only allows a convention to consider amendments that will limit the power of the federal government.  HJR 499 only allows a convention to consider a balanced budget amendment.  This can be reflected in the qualifications of Virginia’s delegates. Your rights under the First, Second, or any other Amendment are not ‘up for grabs’ (compare that to the Supreme Court)!  The only people who need to fear a convention are the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

Remember, Virginia’s General Assembly will decide how delegates to a convention are selected, and while there are no absolute guarantees here, Virginia does have significant control of its delegates and a solid backstop in place.

3. Who does and who does NOT support a Convention of States:

Opponents often accuse us of being supported by the likes of George Soros and Moveon.org.  This is not the case.  Have you ever heard any of them back it (I mean quotes from THEM, not someone who opposes it telling you ‘George Soros wants it’)?  Go look at their websites.  You will not find such support anywhere.

I’ve even heard things like ‘the NRA opposes it.’  If so, my understanding is that their lobbyist in Richmond is unaware of that fact… draw your own conclusions.

A wide range of conservatives support this effort, including people like Governor Bobby Jindal, Prof. Randy Barnett – the leading academic in the opposition to Obamacare, Mike Farris, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Colonel Allen West, Senator Ron Johnson, and Retired Senator Tom Coburn, just to name a few.  Countless other conservative leaders also support this effort.

I should note that I have never seen an issue that sees so many good conservatives on both sides.  But I want to ask you to stand with our Founders and the countless conservatives who have joined this cause.  Please contact your state legislators in the Virginia House and Senate and tell them to vote in favor of HJ 497, HJ 499, and SJ 269.

You can find out who your state legislators are here: http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/

For liberty,

Ken Cuccinelli, II

 

Lingamfelter on the Convention of States

Delegate Lingamfelter in Harrisonburg, April 2013
Delegate Lingamfelter in Harrisonburg, April 2013

VC Note:  Last night, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, patron of HJ 497, (calling for a convention of states under Article V of the Constitution) sent out the following email in response to earlier messages from Delegate Bob Marshall and Senator Dick Black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friends,

I am sorry for the length of this, but it’s really important.

For those of you who are in support of an Article V Convention of the States, please read this important rebuttal by Michael Farris to Senator Dick Black’s email sent yesterday that is, I am sad to say, utterly untrue.

First, many of you know that I am the Chief Patron of this effort (HJ497) in the House of Delegates.  http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=HJ497&submit=GO

Those who are opposed to the states coming together to rein in Federal power have panicked, because we are on the verge of victory.  They are putting out blatant distortions to make people and their Delegates fearful.  Consider this:the following conservatives SUPPORT a convention of the states:

Ken Cuccinelli, Mat Staver, Governor Bobby Jindal, Randy Barnett, Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Colonel Allen West, Senator Ron Johnson, Retired Senator Tom Coburn, and countless other conservative leaders.  And we are joined by very brave Delegates in the House including Delegates Anderson, Morris, Ware, Berg, Bloxom, Cole, Cox, Edmunds, Fowler, Garrett, Greason, Head, Jones, LaRock, Massie, O’Bannon, Peace, Poindexter, Webert and Wilt.  They have the courage to take a stand and I hope you will also.  Others are signing on too as they come to realize that we must act now.

Do you think these conservative leaders are trying to scare you?  No, they are conservative leaders and they have the courage to stand up to Federal overreach and not cower to the fear tactics of the John Birch Society.

Second, there is an utter lie being circulated that the NRA opposes the Convention of the States.  The NRA has NOT taken a position and in fact their chief Counsel supports our effort.  So let’s be straight. Lies to scare folks won’t work.  Please call your delegate and senator this weekend, and tell them that this week when this comes up for a vote, to please act boldly and support HJ 497 and SJ 269, calling for a Convention of the States.

 

ANSWERING DICK BLACK: Michael Farris, J.D., LL.M., Constitutional Lawyer & Chancellor of Patrick Henry College

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, George Mason of Virginia insisted that there would come a day when the federal government would abuse the authority it was given under the Constitution. Mason therefore insisted that the States be given the power to propose amendments to the Constitution to rein in the Federal Government. Mason said that Congress would never propose amendments to restrict federal power. And he has been proven right.

Dick Black’s “Urgent” Appeal is false, deceptive, and demeaning to all Virginians. Here’s why:

 

1. BLACK CREATES A FALSE IMPRESSION OF IMPENDING CHANGE TO THE CONSTITUTION.

 

Black claims that “Virginia will vote to change the Constitution of the United States in a few days.” This is a far cry from the reality both as to the timing and as to the scope of the Convention. Virginia is set to vote on whether to begin the process of considering the proposal of specific amendments to the Constitution. We are years away from making any amendments (34 states must first approve the call, the convention must be held, and 38 states must ratify any proposals coming out of the convention before any change is made to the Constitution.

Black claims that Virginia could be the “tipping point” to get to 34 states. This is based on the idea that many states have already called for a convention, and that adding Virginia to the list would bring us to the needed number.

This claim is demonstrably false and nothing better than a blatant attempt to incite panic.

The two specific resolutions in front of the Virginia General Assembly are for an Article V Convention to limit federal power and jurisdiction (HJ 497) and an Article V Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499).

Three states have passed the first application, and 24 states have passed the second. Virginia would not be the 34th state for either measure.

Black’s assertion that Virginia could be the tipping point is based on the clearly erroneous assumption that Article V applications can never be rescinded.

Every serious Article V legal scholar understands that rescissions are valid. I personally litigated a case regarding rescissions of ratifications of proposed constitutional amendments under Article V. The federal court holding is that rescissions of ratifications are indeed binding. Idaho v. Freeman, 529 F.Supp. 1107 (D.Idaho 1981).

The simple truth is that we are years away from voting on actual amendments to the Constitution. If these applications pass, Virginia will be the 4th state to call for a Convention of States to restrict federal power and the 25th state to call for a Balanced Budget Amendment. These applications can only trigger a convention where amendments will be debated, drafted, and then sent on to the states for ratification. They will “change” the Constitution only if ratified by 38 states.

 

2. LIBERAL ORGANIZATIONS CITED BY DICK BLACK ARE NOT “PUSHING FOR THIS.”

 

Black claims that George Soros, Code Pink, MoveOn.org, New Progressive Alliance and 100 other liberal groups “are pushing for this.”

None of these entities have endorsed or “pushed for” the Convention of States (HJ 497) or a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499) in Virginia or any other state.

Not one of these entities even mentions Article V on their website (georgesoros.com, codepink.org, moveon.org, occupywallst.org, and newprogs.org). Not once. Moveon.org mentions Article V of the Wisconsin Constitution and Article V of the Geneva Convention. The Occupy Wall Street website includes reader comments discussing Article V. But not once is there any mention of Article V of the U.S. Constitution by these organizations. Pure silence.

Dick Black’s source for this claim is a website operated by a group that is seeking an Article V convention for a wholly different purpose. This group seeks to repeal the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. The organizations listed are endorsing the repeal of Citizens United. No organization with that movement has “pushed for” or endorsed either the Convention of States (HJ 497) or a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499) in Virginia or any other state.

Black’s claim that these liberal organizations are “pushing for this”-referring to the bills slated to be voted on by the Virginia General Assembly-is a blatant falsehood.

 

3. WE DO KNOW HOW DELEGATES ARE CHOSEN

 

Dick Black says that there is no law which states how delegates to the Convention are chosen. There was no such law in place in 1787 when Virginia chose its delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The legislature had the inherent power to appoint delegates-who represent Virginia-and it did so. The Virginia General Assembly has that same power today, and it comes from Virginia’s sovereign power and Article V of the Constitution.

 

4. THE CONVENTION WILL BE LIMITED TO PROPOSING AMENDMENTS THAT LIMIT THE POWER OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

 

Black claims (citing a video by the John Birch Society) that a convention cannot be limited to the subjects identified in the state applications, but will necessarily throw open the entire constitution. In fact they claim that our original Constitution is invalid because it, too, was adopted by a “runaway convention.”

This argument has been thoroughly discredited.

Dick Black needs to explain why he is listening to and promoting these dangerous people, who have admitted that they will pursue secession if their “plans” for nullification are unsuccessful.

 

5. CONGRESS HAS NO CONTROL OVER THE CONVENTION ONCE IT IS TRIGGERED.

 

You can see from the text of Article V itself that Congress only has two duties with regard to the Convention mechanism. It aggregates the applications and “calls” the Convention once 34 states apply for a Convention to propose a certain type of amendments. Then it chooses between two specified methods of ratification for any amendment proposals that come out of the Convention-each of which requires 38 states to ratify.

The term “call” used in Article V is a legal term of art with regard to the Convention process. To “call” a Convention is not to control it, determine its rules or decide who represents the parties! Rather, to “call” a Convention is to announce the date, time and location for it to facilitate its occurrence. Virginia “called” the Constitutional Convention in 1787. But did it unilaterally determine the rules or select the delegates from other states? Of course not!

Some of the arguments made by Dick Black are matters of opinion, and as such, are not untruthful per se–even if they have been rejected by most legal scholars. But when he says that Virginia could be the “tipping point,” and when he says that George Soros and Moveon.org are “pushing for this,” he has spoken untruthfully about material facts.

If Black is not willing to play straight with the facts, then his opinions do not merit serious consideration.

The “questions” Black poses about the Article V Convention process have answers that are grounded in fact, history, and law. For him to suggest otherwise is to purposefully sow confusion and fear.

The conservatives who have endorsed this effort include:

Ken Cuccinelli, Mat Staver, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Col. Alan West, Sen. Tom Coburn (ret.), and many others. These are the people who, in fact, are “pushing for this.”

Senator Dick Black, what is your plan to stop the abuse of power in Washington, D.C.?

Senator Black on Article V

Senator Dick Black on Lobby Day 2015
Senator Dick Black on Lobby Day 2015

VC Note:  Earlier today, Senator Dick Black (R-Loundon) sent out the following message regarding an Article V Convention.

Virginia will vote to change the Constitution of the United States in a few days!

This is called an Article V Convention and the purpose is to rewrite parts of the Constitution of the United States. Two thirds of the states must apply for a Convention and there is confusion about whether Virginia will complete the tipping point because other states that passed it decades ago have since attempted to rescind that vote.

3 SIMPLE FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  • Article V Convention Supporters include:

George Soros, Code Pink, MoveOn.org, Occupy Wallstreet, New Progressive Alliance and 100 other liberal groups are pushing for this.

  • We can’t control who will amend the Constitution.

This is the most troubling aspect because there is no law that states how delegates to the Convention are chosen. Congress could appoint themselves. Even if Congress allowed states to choose their own delegates, the Republican establishment leadership in Virginia’s House and Senate would never choose a conservative to amend the Constitution.

  • We cannot limit what parts of the Constitution can be changed.

No matter what limited rules are put on the Convention regarding what parts of our Constitution will be changed, the delegates themselves can vote to change the rules at the Convention. The First Amendment, Second Amendment, etc. could be changed if delegates at the Convention vote to change the rules.

Please contact your state delegate and senator and ask them to vote no and protect our Constitution! Find out who your representative is here and tell them not to gamble with the Constitution of the United States.

Want to learn more? Read on:

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Burger said history shows us we can’t control what parts of the Constitution will be changed.

In a letter to the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly (who opposes calling a Convention), former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger wrote, “The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. The Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey. After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the Confederation Congress ‘for the sole and express purpose.’ With George Washington as chairman, they were able to deliberate in total secrecy, with no press coverage and no leaks. A Constitutional Convention today would be a free-for-all.

A new Convention could plunge our Nation into constitutional confusion and confrontation at every turn, with no assurance that focus would be on the subjects needing attention. I have discouraged the idea of a Constitutional Convention, and I am glad to see states rescinding their previous resolutions requesting a Convention…

Whatever may need repair on our Constitution can be dealt with by specific amendments.”

We have never had an Article V Convention. In 1787 we had a Constitutional Convention for the sole purpose of amending the Articles of Confederation. History shows us that although limitations were put on these delegates, they came out of that Convention with a completely different form of government. Thankfully, we had selfless men of character in that Convention who crafted a Constitution that has withstood the test of time. However, do you think today’s Congress would send similar selfless men/women of character to a modern-day Convention? Do you think Congress today has similar values as those who crafted our Constitution?

What does Article V say? Here it is in its entirety (it’s very short):

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Now that you’ve read Article V, ask yourself some questions:

Where does it say how the delegates to the Convention are chosen? Where will it take place? Will delegates be bound to vote on behalf of their state or as individuals? How many delegates will there be? Can Congress appoint themselves as delegates? ANSWER: No one knows. It’s similar to what Nancy Pelosi said, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

You Cannot Control Who the Delegates Will Be at a Constitutional Convention:

The makeup of the delegates to the Convention is the most troubling aspect of this entire endeavor, and it is the one thing that is guaranteed to go AGAINST those hoping for a conservative outcome.

There is no law or statute that binds Congress or the states on who will be selected as delegates to a Constitutional Convention, or how they will be chosen. There is not even a requirement that a delegate to the Convention representing Virginia be an actual Virginia Citizen. All we have are historical precedents of how other conventions have chosen delegates, but precedent is NOT binding.

The most likely scenario is that a slate of delegates would be put forward by the General Assembly, voted on by both Houses, and approved by the Governor. Governor McAuliffe is not likely to approve a conservative delegation, nor would the Republican establishment choose conservative lawmakers. This would guarantee that the delegates from Virginia would NOT be conservative and would most likely be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

With the need to secure Democrat support for any slate of delegates, do you think there is a chance that Virginia will send a group of people dedicated to reining in the size and scope of government? Absolutely not. Frankly, it was the Republican establishment that gave us the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history and they would never choose a conservative to amend the Constitution of the United States. The most likely scenario would be moderate Republicans joining with the Democrats to select a slate of centrist, left-leaning individuals, and that’s just in Virginia. Imagine what states like California and New York would do.

In states controlled by Democrat legislatures, you can be assured of getting only a slate of liberal lawmakers without a single conservative voice among them.

You Cannot Limit the Scope of a Constitutional Convention:

Proponents of a Constitutional Convention argue over and over that they can keep the scope of any convention focused on a narrow subject. They are wrong. Just like any other political convention ever held in this country, the delegates to the convention set their own rules.

No matter what limited rules any Congress, State Legislature, or anyone else may seek to impose on the Convention, the delegates themselves are the ones that vote on these rules. They can easily dismiss any limits placed upon them and set their own rules governing what amendments they can consider, as well as how those proposed amendments are considered. They can even do away with the “one state, one vote” notion put forward by Convention proponents and institute “proportional representation” giving liberal states like New York and California the ability to run roughshod over smaller, more conservative states.

Imagine what harm a Constitutional Convention, packed with left leaning delegates, could do to the Constitution? If the left were able to amend the Constitution of the United States, they could change Freedom of Religion to say certain teachings from the Bible are hate speech, they could take away our right to own a gun, etc.

Planners Are Already Moving to Loosen Restraints on the Scope of a Convention:

“Assembly of State Legislatures” is a group of legislators planning the Article V Convention. About fifty state legislators met December 9, 2014 in Washington DC. Notes from this meeting show that lawmakers tabled a motion to restrict the scope of the Convention to only the subject matter of the state applications, and also rejected a motion which would have prevented congressmen and senators, federal judges and governors from serving as delegates to the Convention. This is an early indication that politicians want to have a more open process and may want to appoint members of Congress, the US Senate and federal judges to amend the Constitution.

We Don’t Get a Second Chance to Get it Right:

The supporters of a Constitutional Convention are well-meaning people who, like us, want so badly to get our country back on track. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix to our problems. Our form of government was never meant to be on autopilot.

Proponents of a Convention say that they know the rules. But how can anyone know the rules for something that has never been done before? There has never been a Constitutional Convention called under Article V of the US Constitution , and with good reason. Most people understand the dangers to our liberties a Constitutional Convention represents. At a time when our rights are being redefined by activist judges and the Constitution is being ignored by our President and his supporters in Congress, why would we place our most sacred document into the hands of the same corrupt leaders who are trampling it in the first place? The fact is that there is no way around bad leaders. The only way is to replace them with good leaders. We would be delusional to think these bad leaders would choose good leaders to amend our Constitution, no matter how badly we need them to.

Please contact your state delegate and senator and ask them to vote no and protect our Constitution! Find out who your representative is here and tell them not to put the Constitution of the United States of America AT RISK: http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/

I will be in my Richmond office until February 28 and welcome you to stop by. Our office is in Room 308 of the General Assembly Building. You can contact me at District13@senate.virginia.gov or 804.698.7513. You can also follow me on Twitter @SenRichardBlack and on Facebook where I will do my best to bring you the most up to date information on the session.

Warm Regards,

Senator Dick Black

The Looming Con-Con

Picture from bobmarshall2012.com
Picture from bobmarshall2012.com

According to an email from Delegate Bob Marshall sent a few moments ago, tomorrow two pieces of legislation regarding a constitutional convention will come before the Rule Committee in the Virginia House of Delegates.  They are HJ 497 sponsored by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and HJ 499 by Delegate Jim LeMunyon.

Although many of us would agree that the federal government has grossly exceeded the authority granted to it by the U.S. Constitution, we have considerable reservations about a constitutional convention.  Given that the 9th and 10th Amendments are routinely ignored, why would the federal government decide to honor some new amendment that would limit its power?  Unfortunately, an Article V Convention, as proposed by these bills and others, could end up merely legitimizing the century and a half of usurpation that has already taken place.

As Delegate Marshall writes, “Once called by Congress, the Convention cannot be stopped or limited and will have complete authority to change any part of our Constitution!   The only other convention, held in 1787, re-wrote the Articles of Confederation, and changed the ratification requirements from unanimous to three fourths!  Yes, it gave us our present Constitution, but we had many statesmen of moral conviction who fought the War of Independence leading the nation at that time.  Madison said he trembled at the thought of a second convention after witnessing the first!”

He goes on to add, “The state legislators planning the Article V Convention rejected a motion that would have prevented Members of Congress, the US Senate, federal judges and governors from serving as convention delegates.  They also tabled a motion to restrict the subject matter of the convention.”

Anyone who cares about a constitutionally limited government certainly can be sympathetic to the aims of those proposing an Article V Convention.  However, so far the case has not been sufficiently made to do so.  It seems a far better remedy is to demand that our legislators in Washington adhere to the Constitution and replace though who have failed in this duty.  In addition, we need to elect representatives to the General Assembly in Richmond who are not afraid to draw the line and say no to the federal government, show how the feds have violated the Constitution, and fight against any and all encroachment when necessary.

Delegate Marshall concludes his email by saying, “Please also urge your own state delegate and senator to OPPOSE ALL APPLICATIONS ASKING CONGRESS TO CALL AN ARTICLE V CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.”

The Folly of Article V

Lately, many of my political friends have been talking about something called Article V.  For those unfamiliar with the term, it is a call for a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.  Article V reads as follows:

“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”

Photo from Mark Levin's Facebook page
Photo from Mark Levin’s Facebook page

This idea had been promoted by a number of conservative pundits, especially Mark Levin who has written a book entitled The Liberty Amendments.  However, it should be noted that the states have never called for a constitutional convention under Article V.

The more I read about this idea, the greater my opposition to it grows.  What if the nation held a constitutional convention?  Would the result be more liberty and a more constitutionally bound federal government as people like Levin suggest?  Or would it serve as an opportunity to expand power even further in Washington?

The outcome is uncertain and one that would be nearly impossible to correct should the process go awry.

Do we really need any “liberty amendments”?  It seems to me that the federal government has already done a pretty good job ignoring its limitations already spelled out quite clearly in the 9th and 10th Amendments.

In case you’ve forgotten, the 9th Amendment reads,

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

And the 10th Amendment states,

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Friends, the Constitution already lists what powers the federal government rightfully ought to have.  Therefore, I’d much rather see my legislators in Richmond invoke these amendments to protect the people of this state as opposed to opening Pandora’s box of a constitutional convention where the outcome will almost certainly erode our freedoms further.

Now, I won’t claim to be an expert on this subject and all of us have been wrong before.  But, at this point, I think all Americans, especially those claiming to be either conservatives or libertarians, should be exceedingly wary of invoking Article V.