Changing the U.S. Constitution can be a rather tricky proposition. To amend it under normal circumstances requires a proposal to be deliberated and approved by at least two thirds of both chambers of Congress, a procedure familiar to most Americans. Assuming acceptance, it is sent to the various state legislatures where a minimum of 75% must approve of it for passage. However, Article V of the Constitution has a provision whereby a Constitutional Convention (aka, Article V Convention, or Amendments Convention) can be called by at least two-thirds of the states (34) whereby amendments can be drafted by a separate body of delegates, not the Congress, before being sent to the state legislatures for ratification (again, at least 75%). The scope of the convention must be very specific in terms of what it proposes to address. Although this vehicle is at our disposal, the last time such a convention was called was back in 1787 in Philadelphia. That’s right, 234 years ago.
Although there have been suggestions of holding a Constitutional Convention over the years, the Congress has interceded and taken action to avoid usurping their authority. We now live in a time though where the approval rating of Congress is at an all time low, and the American public has genuine concerns about such things as curbing the influence of lobbyists, redefining the term limits and benefits of the Congress, campaign reform, and a balanced budget, to mention but a few. Taking such important matters out of the direct hands of the Congress, who the public no longer trusts, would go a long way to overcome the partisan politics in the capitol.
The question becomes, who would push for such a convention? Since the president and the Congress represents the status quo, they lack the political chutzpah to push for such a proposal. In fact, it needs to come from the states themselves, but because of the disparity between them, this too is highly unlikely. Instead, a GOP presidential candidate is the logical choice as there are no Democratic candidates. Whoever is first to propose it will be wildly embraced by the American people as a whole, not just one party, as they realize some significant changes have to be enacted in the manner by which our government operates. Think about it, it’s more than just the right thing to do; it’s bold, it’s imaginative, and it makes the person look very presidential. Let us not forget, George Washington presided over the last Continental Congress.
Understand this, the president serves in no official capacity in enacting constitutional amendments, but the GOP nominee could force such a convention simply by creating a firestorm of public demand. Keep in mind, not only would the Tea Party like to see such a convention, their opposites, the Occupy Wall Streeters, would also be interested in such a concept. Frankly, it’s a no lose proposition for the GOP nominee as the Congress and president will certainly not call for it, and the public would embrace it.
I wonder if any of the GOP candidates are smart enough to grab the brass ring. Now, if all of the GOP candidates would get behind such a proposal…Wow!
For more information, here is Article V of the Constitution:
“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.”
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.