Philip Blumel: We have a winner.
Philip Blumel: Hi. I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits movement for the week of May 3rd, 2021.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: The judges have rendered their decision, and the winning essay in the first Earl C. Michener Term Limits Essay Contest has been announced. Also, after losing by a hair in 2020, the Term Limits Convention Bill is revived in Louisiana with a new vigor. For more detail, let’s turn to Nick Tomboulides, the Executive Director of the US Term Limits. Hey Nick.
Philip Blumel: So the Term Limits Convention Resolution has been introduced once again in Louisiana. And last year, there was quite a drama in Louisiana. It came right down to the wire as I recall, and we just missed it by a hair. So I’m excited it is back there again. What’s changed, and should we expect a different result?
Nick Tomboulides: Missed it by that much. Yes. It was a real nail biter last time out. We got through the State House by such an overwhelming margin. It was bipartisan as well. The vote was 74… Sorry, 73-14 in favor of the Term Limits Convention. Then it moved over to the State Senate and it failed, basically, by two votes. It was 18-16 in the State Senate along with…
Philip Blumel: Heartbreaking.
Nick Tomboulides: Heartbreaking. There were a few extensions. Unfortunately, we were not able to get it back up in the State Senate. Although in the State House, we actually brought it up in the special session. So we had two floor passages in the Louisiana House last time. But we were not able to get it back up in the State Senate. I just visited Baton Rouge, couple weeks ago. I had meetings with some of our Pledge Signer legislators in both Chambers, including, meetings with some folks who did not vote for it last time. And it looks like this time we’re gonna do a lot better. And it looks like this time we’re gonna get that vote in the State Senate, and hopefully, it should pass. So we’re monitoring the situation, but it looks to be in very good position right now.
Philip Blumel: Okay. So the resolution was introduced in the House, which is, sort of relative to the Senate, the easy one.
Nick Tomboulides: Yup.
Philip Blumel: That, I guess, we’re not too worried about. Of course, you can’t take anything for granted.
Nick Tomboulides: No.
Philip Blumel: And it certainly looks better. Okay. Do we have any sense of when we’re gonna have our first committee hearing, or anything like that?
Nick Tomboulides: You know, I spoke with our sponsor on the phone briefly today, and it looks like it’s gonna be coming up in the next couple of weeks. We don’t have an exact date yet, but obviously, once we know it, it will be broadcast everywhere. US Term Limits will have it on our social media, our website, email. If you live in Louisiana, you’re gonna get that update as soon as it breaks.
Philip Blumel: Okay. I understand that the termlimits.com/takeaction page has been updated. So you can go there. If you live in Louisiana, go there, find Louisiana, click on the Take Action button, and you can tell your legislators. Once again, this is a new session. So if you did it last year, do it again. Let your legislators know that you want them to vote for the Term Limits Convention Resolution.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. And just one quick note on that. Legislators are dealing with hundreds of bills at any given time. We hope that they will read most of those bills. I think at least at the state level, they do. So we can’t take for granted the fact that it passed last time by an overwhelming margin. That doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels and not reach out to all of these House and Senate members in Louisiana, just to confirm their support.
Philip Blumel: That’s right.
S6: This is a public civil announcement.
Philip Blumel: Constitutional scholar, Rob Natelson is America’s foremost expert on Article 5 of the US Constitution, and specifically, the convention process of proposing amendments. Opponents of Term Limits often peddle wild conspiracy theories about a runaway convention to try to derail the Term Limits Convention Resolutions in the states. Natelson, at this 2013 presentation before the American Legislative Exchange Council, details the limitations on amendment writing convention. Limitations, by the way, not imposed on the runaway US Congress, which can also propose amendments.
Rob Natelson: We just finish up here by making a few points regarding the runaway scenario. The claim that if we ever had a convention like this, it could be a constitutional convention, which could do anything it wants, careen out of control, take over the country, presumably, come and kill all of your puppies, whatever. There are far, far more controls over this convention than there are over the runaway Congress. For example, when the states offer 34 applications on any one particular subject, the convention is limited to the scope of those applications. Secondly, when Congress exercise its mandatory duty to call the convention after having received 34 applications of one subject, it follows those applications and specifies the scope of the convention. The convention may not be, go beyond that.
Rob Natelson: Each convention committee, each state delegation, is chosen by the state legislature in such manner as the state legislature shall direct. That means that each member of the convention is recalled by the state legislatures, a well-recognized prerogative of the states meeting and convention. They are also under instructions from the State Legislature. This is a convention for the purpose of Amendment X, it’s not for the convention of purpose of Amendment Y. You start talking about Amendment Y, we’re gonna call you home. And then there is the requirement that not one, not four, not 14, but 38 states ratify any amendment proposed by the convention. And if all of that wasn’t enough, I would like to remind you that there are the possibilities of lawsuits all along the line.
Rob Natelson: Anything that the convention does that is even arguably legal, can and will be challenged in the courts. And contrary to what you may have heard, the courts have been willing to accept Article 5 disputes, and there was a long line of court decisions that shed light on Article 5. So the real risks are not from the runaway convention, the real risks are that we won’t have a convention. The state legislatures may not act and the federal government may continue to careen out of control. The convention may propose, but then the States refuse to ratify and Congress continue out of control or groups might very well sue or to try to throw a monkey wrench into the convention with the same results, but we do have the obligation to act. Let me just suggest to you one possible vignette in closing here. Let’s suppose that contrary to all expectations, the door were to open from the back, and in strode James Madison and John Dickinson.
Rob Natelson: And after we all gasped and wondered how they got there, we all mobbed around them to talk to them, and several of us started complaining to them about what the federal government had become, that it’d become a government that had snapped its powers… Its scope of its powers a long time though, that it’d become a government that had burdened us with incredible debt, that it’d become a government that often was oppressive and couldn’t even balance its own budget. And when we outlined all those problems to Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Madison, what would be their response? Their response would be, Well, have you used the procedure in Article 5 that we wrote into the constitution for exactly that eventuality? And when we sheepishly admitted that, No, we hadn’t, we’d allowed ourselves to be distracted by alarmists and quacks, and we’d never really done it. No doubt, they would look at us and say, that situation was our own fault, and they would be right.
Philip Blumel: Also, the winner of the 2021 Earl C. Michener Essay Contest has been announced, and the winner is…
Nick Tomboulides: Inez Privette.
Philip Blumel: Of Asheville Catholic school in Asheville, North Carolina. And so this was our first go at this… I think it’s junior high school and high school, and Inez is a seventh grader, at Asheville Catholic school, and she had an essay about the 22nd amendment and term limiting of the President of the United States.
Nick Tomboulides: It was a fantastic essay, and obviously, we are a pro-term limits organization, but we want everyone to form their own opinions about this issue, so we didn’t tell Inez or anyone they had to be for term limits or against it, we just wanted to hear about the history of this issue. The 22nd amendment is such a foundational amendment in our country, and the history behind it is really fascinating. In the essay she talks about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, how term limits for the president was a bipartisan issue. We actually asked her about that in another interview we have on our YouTube page, she said that was a surprise to her, and how the reasons for passing term limits on the present were so that we did not have a dictator come to power in America and just refuse to let go. It’s all really fascinating. It’s a well-written essay, and you can check it out on termlimits.com.
Philip Blumel: Absolutely, there’s a special page dedicated to it, termlimits.com/essaycontest, and you can see the interview with Inez and her teacher, Madison Dancer, and also hear an audio recording of the essay itself, read the essay and also read more about the essay program, and we’ll be doing again next year so if anyone listening, has a high school student that may wanna participate, then go to termlimits.com/essaycontest.
Scott Tillman: Hi, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with US Term Limits. There are two ways we could put term limits on Congress. First, Congress can refer a term limits amendment out to the states. The Congressional term limits resolution that would do this is HJR12 in the US House and SJR3 in the US Senate. And we have 80 co-sponsors between these two resolutions. The second way to amend the constitution requires states passing resolutions that ask for a term limits amendment convention, and we are pursuing both routes. We ask candidates for the state legislature to sign a pledge that would help us term limit Congress, that pledge reads, I pledge that as a member of the State legislature, I will co-sponsor, vote for and defend the resolution applying for an Article 5 convention for the sole purpose of enacting term limits on Congress. About 75 Special elections for state legislature take place each year.
Scott Tillman: Special elections for 34 State legislative seats have already been scheduled in 16 states for 2021. We have received pledges from over 60 of those candidates. Ballotpedia is a great place and a resource for finding new election details, but we need help to find and contact the candidates, this involves research and calling the candidates. If you’re able to help, please email me Scott Tillman at email@example.com, that’s S-T-I-L-L-M-A-N@termlimits.com.
Philip Blumel: Anything else, Nick?
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, it is regrettable, but we have to announce a defeat for term limits here in Florida of all places, came as a huge surprise this week.
Philip Blumel: Surprise, hell, we were bragging about this in the last podcast [chuckle] It really seemed breezy at the time.
Nick Tomboulides: We had every assurance that school board term limits, were gonna get on the ballot, and then there was some horse trading that went on in the last few days of session. Unfortunately, the house did everything it could, they passed the resolution to put it on the ballot, and then… And I think the second last day of session, they passed an amendment to another bill that would have put school board term limits into the state statutes of all places, which is really extraordinary. Unfortunately, when that amendment was transmitted to the Senate, the Senate plucked it out, not necessarily because they don’t support term limits, but because maybe they didn’t think this big bill that affected Florida school so many other ways could pass with that amendment intact. So it’s very unfortunate because this is the most popular issue in the state of Florida, it’s also the most bipartisan issue in the state, and the people of the state have been demanding this for four years, and it still has not gotten on the ballot, and you have to question at some point are many of our legislators in Tallahassee accountable to the people, or are they accountable to the lobbyists and special interests who want to keep school board term limits down? And I think as of late, it looks like they’re listening more to the latter.
Philip Blumel: This was so unusual that it almost seems like someone somewhere was being too clever by half, trying to do something so innovative and it ended up, I guess, capsizing the bill, and I guess we’re still learning the details of what happened, but it was highly unusual. And we thought that with the support of the leadership and support of the governor and everything else, that this was gonna happen this time around, but nope, another session, no school board term limits in Florida, but there’s always next year.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The term limits convention bills are moving through the state legislatures, this could be a break through year for the term limits movement. To check on the status of the term limits convention resolution in your state, go to termlimits.com/takeaction. There you will see if it has been introduced and where it stands in the committee process on its way to the floor vote. If there’s action to take, you’ll see a Take Action button by your state, click it. This will give you the opportunity to send a message to the most relevant legislators urging them to support the legislation. They have to know you’re watching. That’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the term limits convention resolution or the bill has not been introduced in your state, you can still help. Please consider making a contribution to US Term Limits. It’s our aim to hit the reset button on the US Congress, and you can help. Go to termlimits.com/donate. Termlimits.com/donate. Thanks, we’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: Find us on most social media at US Term Limits, like us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and now TikTok.