There are far, far more controls over the [Article V] 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 exercises its mandatory duty to call the convention after receiving 34 applications on one subject, it follows those applications and specifies the scope of the convention that the convention cannot go beyond.
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 recallable by the state legislatures, a well-recognized prerogative of the states meeting in convention.
They are also under instructions from the state legislature that this is a convention for the purpose of Amendment X. It is not for the purpose of Amendment Y. You start talking about Amendment Y and we will call you home.
And then there is the requirement that not 1, not 14, but 38 states must ratify an 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. 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 hear Article 5 disputes. And there is a long line of court decisions that shine light on Article V.
So the real risks are not for the runaway convention. The real risks are that we won’t have a convention.
The state legislators may not act. And the fed government may continue to careen out of control.
The convention may propose, but then the states refuse to ratify, and the federal government will continue to careen out of control.
Or groups may very well sue to try to throw in a monkey wrench, with the same results.
But we do have an 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 in the back and in strode James Madison and John Dickenson. And after we all gasped and wondered how they got there, we all mobbed around them to talk.
And several us started complaining to them about what the federal government had become. That it had become a government that has snapped the scope of its powers a long time ago. That it had become a government that burdened us with incredible debt.
That it had become a government that was oppressive and couldn’t even balance its own budget. And when we outlined all those problems, Mr. Dickerson and Mr. Madison, what would be their response?
The response would be, “Well, have you used the procedure in Article V 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 the situation is our own fault.
And they would be right
~A speech by Rob Natelson