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ALEC is at it again (or still)!! ALEC has written a handbook encouraging States to join together and subvert the U.S. Constitution, telling States they can hold an Article V convention and propose Constitutional amendments. If this ploy is successful, the States could make our current Constitution unrecognizable and unleash the Scott Walkers and Rick Scotts of the world on the nation as a whole! Check out the what, who, and why below the fleur-de-Kos.

What is an article V convention, who is ALEC, and what do the two of them have to do with each other? An Article V convention is one of the ways in which the U.S. Constitution can be amended (the other way is for Congress to do it). ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is an organization which writes model legislation and distributes it to legislators for enactment. Although most well known for its efforts at the State level (like the Voter ID and Stand Your Ground laws) ALEC has expanded its area of interest to include national politics and has gone so far as to publish a handbook on Article V conventions.

Wanting to know more about Article V conventions, and not being a constitutional scholar, I scurried to Wikipedia to find out how this amendment process is supposed to work. Article V provides two means by which the Constitution can be modified: 1) amendments proposed by Congress and 2) amendments proposed by national convention. To date all constitutional amendments have been proposed by Congress, but as we well know Congress has accomplished precious little recently. Given the inertia of Congress and the need to address issues such as campaign finance reform (Citizens United), an Article V convention is more within the realm of possibility than ever before. This raises important questions about the details of such a convention. When and where would it meet? How would delegates be selected? What procedures would be used? Who gets to answer these questions? Congress? The States? We The People?

When the Articles of Confederation proved to be insufficient to establish a sound financial system, regulate trade, enforce treaties, or go to war, representatives from the States convened in 1787 for the express purpose of "improving" the articles of Confederation. Congress 1) called a convention, 2) to meet on a specific date, 3) in a specific place, 4) for a specific purpose, 5) with rules about what constituted a quorum and the number of signatures required. The result of this convention was not a new-and-improved Articles of Confederation, but rather the Constitution of the United States (which has served us well for over two centuries).

If a modern convention were called by Congress, who would get to make the rules? The answer depends on who you ask … Constitutional scholars, the States, or Congress. Constitutional scholars are likely to be least biased, but there is no agreement among those who have addressed this matter (Lester Orfield (1942), Cyril Brinkfield (1957), the American Bar Association (1974), Russell Caplan (1988), Larry Sobato (2007), Lawrence Lessig (2011)). The states would attempt to exert control over the convention by maintaining control of its delegates. Congress, of course, would prefer to maintain the status quo. After all, if Congress wanted an amendment it could have proposed one on its own. Therefore, Congress would likely avoid a convention altogether or at least limit the power of any convention.

What if Congress never called a convention? It is uncertain whether Congress could be forced to issue a call even though required to do so under Article V. Further, it is unclear whether this matter would be justiciable in the courts. Multiple lawsuits have been filed trying to force Congress to call a convention based on the applications it has received, all to no avail. In April 2012 the FBI refused to investigate a grievance alleging that members of Congress are acting illegally by refusing to comply with the Article V requirement to call a convention. If Congress can thumb its nose at the Constitution, perhaps an Article V convention will never be called!

Article V Conventions Generally

Since an Article V convention has never been called, it is uncertain how such a thing would function. Constitutional scholars, Congress, and the American Bar Association have weighed in on the issue and provided some guidance on such a convention … the application process, scope, call, delegates, and procedures.

Applications: First of all, Article V requires Congress to call a convention upon application of two-thirds of State legislatures. Because Congress is loathe to call a convention, it has aggregated the applications in such a way that the two-thirds requirement has never been met. And, although no definitive legislation exists, it has been proposed that once Congress has determined that two-thirds of the States have submitted application for a convention on the same subject, Congress must pass a resolution calling for a convention and setting forth the nature of the amendment(s) for consideration (but see the discussion above about thwarted efforts to force Congress to call an Article V convention).

Of note, States must submit an application for a convention and not submit an actual amendment … Constitutional scholars have predicted that applications containing the actual language of an amendment would violate Article V and therefore be unconstitutional (the rationale behind this interpretation is that including the actual language of a proposed amendment in an application would eliminate the need for a convention).

Scope: Since the original convention, constitutional scholars have disagreed on the scope of an Article V convention. Some contend that the convention is absolute and is only restricted by the language of Article V.  Others suggest that the convention is a body bound by all the provisions of the Constitution (but would not be beholden to Congress). The prevailing view, however, is that a convention would have limited powers subject to the restrictions imposed by the legislative call and thus, at least in part, could be constrained by Congress.

Call: If Congress calls a convention as provided in Article V, how far does Congressional power extend? Well, in addition to setting the date and place of the convention, Congress might attempt to control everything about the convention (although its power to do so is debatable). Some constitutional scholars have suggested that Congress would have a hand in setting some of the early parameters of a convention but that delegates would determine how the convention would be run. Of note, most scholars believe the States (which would be instrumental during the application process) would have no control over the actual convention.

Delegates: Delegate selection is probably the most interesting aspect of a possible Article V convention. If following the model of the original constitutional convention, the call would be addressed to the States, the States would decide how to select delegates, and the convention would vote by State.  Congress has proposed that the number of delegates elected would mimic the makeup of Congress … one delegate from each district plus two delegates at large from each State. Some Constitutional scholars have suggested that delegate selection be random, like jury selection, to avoid the pitfalls and politics of elections. In fact, efforts are underway to hold mock conventions using this method of delegate selection.

Procedures: Most commentators have been silent about how a convention would operate, perhaps because the question is premature. Congress has given it some thought, however, and has proposed legislation to regulate the convention process. Congress proposes that the convention may not exceed the scope of the call and must terminate within one year. A daily transcript would be published, all votes would be recorded, and a two-thirds vote would be required to propose amendment(s) to Congress for submission to the States for ratification. Lastly, the proposed legislation provides that any conflicts regarding the convention process would be resolved by Congress (although the  American Bar Association urges judicial review).

ALEC and the Article V Convention

So how does ALEC fit in this picture? We know ALEC is interested in inserting the states into the amendment process because they have proposed resolutions to rewrite Article V to that effect. ALEC has passed three separate resolutions re-interpreting Article V so as to circumvent Congress and to allow the States to call a convention or propose amendments directly. The first resolution  implies that the U.S. Constitution can be amended in such a way as to give "two thirds of the states the explicit right to propose amendments without having to obtain the consent of Congress." The second resolution proposes an amendment "allowing the states to call a limited convention." The third resolution proposes an actual amendment allowing states to propose amendments which "are valid for all intents and purposes two years after they are submitted to Congress." It is important to note that these resolutions are not “model bills” to be passed by State legislatures … these are attempts to mess with the U.S. Constitution!

In its handbook ALEC is telling  its members that state legislatures can amend the Constitution “by calling an Article V convention of the states." Under current law, the state legislatures must apply to Congress under Article V and have Congress call a convention to propose any amendment. The ALEC intent seems to be to alter the balance of power between the federal and State governments. Given the corporate sponsorship and involvement with ALEC, this is nothing less than corporate invasion of the federal realm!

From the ALEC perspective, the States would propose amendments and apply to Congress for a convention. It is unclear whether ALEC would be successful in this regard because applications containing the actual language of an amendment would likely be unconstitutional (since the purpose of the convention is to propose an amendment to be submitted to the States for ratification there is no need for a convention if the amendment has already been proposed by the States). If ALEC were successful in altering Article V to allow States to propose amendments, there would be no need for a convention and "We The People" would be excluded from the amendment process.

Further, ALEC considers the convention process itself to be a mechanism under State authority as evidenced by the title of its Article V handbook … "Proposing Constitutional Amendments by Convention of the States." By convention of the States? Seriously? Nowhere in Article V (or in the literature) are the States deemed to be active participants in the convention process. Nevertheless, the author of the ALEC handbook sees the States as instrumental in the application, amendment, and convention process.

The ALEC handbook was written by Robert Natelson, previously a professor of law at the University of Montana. From his other writings, it is clear Natelson believes that the States have the primary role in conducting an Article V convention. For example, he defines the convention as "an assembly composed of state delegations … responsible to their respective state legislatures." In Article V, however, there is no such definition of convention, nor is it found in the writings of constitutional scholars (other than Natelson himself). Natelson further inserts the States into the process by substituting the phrase "interstate convention" for the phrase “Article V convention." As discussed above, Article V allows the States to apply for a convention, not to actually participate in it.

The foreword of the handbook was written by Indiana State Senator Jim Buck who was the chair of the ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force in 2011 when the handbook was published. One might ask what tax and fiscal policy has to do with amending the Constitution. When the senator makes note of Congress's failure to contain spending it is not surprising that the sample amendment used throughout the handbook is a balanced budget amendment. From the ALEC perspective then, the reason for amending Article V would be to allow States to propose a balanced budget amendment.

Why? Why? Why?

Why is ALEC so interested in changing Article V of the U.S. Constitution? If Article V were amended to allow States to propose amendments, there would be no end to the types of amendments we would see.  From the handbook, one could speculate that the States would attempt to insert a balanced budget amendment, but that would be only the beginning. Already ALEC has passed resolutions to propose the following amendments: The first "permitting repeal of any federal law or regulation by a vote of two thirds of the state legislatures;" the second "for the states to nullify federal laws and regulations in such cases as the states deem that the federal government has exceeded the limits of its authority;" and a third prohibiting the federal government from imposing regulations and mandates upon the States.

The corporate sponsors that fund the ALEC organization have fought long and hard to impact federal legislation. Having failed in that regard, those corporations are now targeting state legislatures. These resolutions to insert the states into the process of amending the U.S. Constitution are nothing short of privatization of our representative form of government. ALEC is encouraging states to rebel against the federal government and redraw the lines between federal and state authority that were crafted 200 years ago. These resolutions, and the proposed amendments, are an attack on the Constitution's supremacy clause and could return us to the ineffective method of government practiced under the Articles of Confederation. If the corporations behind ALEC have their way, there would be no environmental protection agency, no workers rights, no minimum wage, no public services and no social safety net. Our country of "We The People" will become one of "We The Corporations."

One Final Note

One final note … on terminology. It will be helpful as the “convention” debate heats up to distinguish between a “constitutional convention” and an “Article V convention.”  The purpose of a “constitutional convention” is to replace the Constitution while an “Article V convention” intends to amend the Constitution. Even the ALEC handbook uses the appropriate term, but the media is much less likely to grasp the finer points of the distinction.

I look forward to your interpretation of ALEC's intentions and any other comments you would like to share.

Previous ALEC diaries by this author:
* Constitution Under Attack!
* States' Rights My @$$!
* ALEC Takes Aim at Voters
* The Smart ALEC Strategy

Originally posted to FeltzNook on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 08:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project and New Diarists.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This Is Why I've Been So Alarmed by the Occasional (11+ / 0-)

    promoters of Article V conventions on this site.

    I haven't seen it come up in a while; maybe the rising visibility of ALEC has helped people understand how vulnerable that approach would be to concentrated private power.

    But yes for many years their strongest attacks on government has been via the states because states are so much easier for them to overpower for much less money.

    It doesn't surprise me that they'd go after Article V the same way to further empower the states.

    They're really after restoring ORIGINAL original intent:
    Image Hosted by

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:21:00 PM PDT

    •  Exactly right! (5+ / 0-)

      That's exactly right ... they want to go back to the Articles of Confederation where the States had all the power ...

      •  ... when states had all the power ... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FeltzNook, IreGyre, jabney, Lujane

        ... or, equivalently, when each state had a tiny fraction of the power. Until the colonies united, their people had no chance against the British Empire and its associated trading monopolies. Should the states disunite, their people will have no chance against today's multinational businesses.

        The abusive lenders won't have to keep spending even today's small efforts to shoot down regulations. The environmental scofflaws will play "jobs creator" between one and another uninformed small town, with no fear of uniform national enforcement or even widespread knowledge of health risks. The rich and comfortable who profit from dirty and dangerous mines and factories will fire or beat workers with impunity, playing "job creator" in the compliant locally-themed but internationally owned media.

        Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

        by chimpy on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 08:48:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  True. (8+ / 0-)

      ALEC's end game is (it should be obvious) replacing Federal Government power (particularly power over corporations) with corporate power.  In other words, ALECs wants to make this a far weaker country than it is right now.

      Our biggest enemies right now are not rogue states or terorists - they are internal, a fifth column of corporate powers that want to inflict their will on the rest of us with impunity.

      The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

      by TheOrchid on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:52:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It may be vulnerable but.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't think there is a low-risk way to go about things if you think that there is a need to make large changes in the Constitution.

      I would be tempted to consider supporting not just an Article V convention but an all-out constitutional convention if I thought the process would be so wild that there is no way that corporations could predict or control the outcome.

      •  For those interested in a possible convention ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... I refer you to ... there are videos of all the presentations from the 2011 Conference on Constitutional Conventions ... and Lawrence Lessig makes some very compelling arguments ...

    •  late reply but yeah i'm with you on this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There was someone around here a couple of years ago who was a constant advocate for having an Article V convention.  S/he seems to have gone away, which is all to the good as far as I'm concerned.

      Yes, the same issue: concentrated private power being brought to bear, a very dangerous game indeed, that could end up with a rewritten Constitution that's an absolute monstrosity.

      I'm coming to the point where I think the only answer in dealing with ALEC is to destroy it utterly, smash it to smithereens by some combination of exposes, lawsuits, vigorous protests including civil disobedience and "creative nonviolent tactics," and whatever criminal charges can be filed against its members and funders: a full-court press that does not stop until there is nothing left of ALEC whatsoever except bad memories.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 08:12:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ALEC re-writing the Constitution...Frightening! (6+ / 0-)

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

    by weck on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:22:15 PM PDT

    •  That is their plan (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FeltzNook, cotterperson, Ohiodem1

      if you think that the handbook is disturbing.  Know this.  ALEC has been shuttling ND Sen. Curtis Olafson around the country to lobby for the bill in other state legislatures.  For example, here is an excerpt from his testimony in Louisiana last year:

      House Constitutional Revision Committee
      Senate Concurrent Resolution 4007
      March 30th, 2011

      I am here today to provide information on Senate Concurrent Resolution 4007. This resolution is part of a nationwide effort to invoke our rights as a state legislature under Article V of the US Constitution to make application to Congress to convene an Amendments Convention.  The proposed amendment is contained in the text of the resolution and specifies that “An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate states.”

      This idea was first proposed by the Restoring Freedom Foundation and has been thoroughly researched and has been endorsed by the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.  It has also been adopted as model legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council.  The nationwide effort is called the National Debt Relief Amendment and North Dakota is the first state in the US in which the resolution is being heard in committee.  The resolution has prime sponsors in about 8 states so far with potential prime sponsors in about 6 other states seriously considering sponsorship.

      by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 09:50:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Notice in the quoted text . . . (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FeltzNook, cotterperson, Ohiodem1

        . . . the call is " convene an Amendment S Convention." PLURAL. So the cat's out of the bag here... they don't really want to focus on any single thing, they want to trash as much as they can, immediately.

        This is the CONSTITUTION they're wanting to play with. ALL of it. Not a comforting thought.

        The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

        by semiAdult on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 10:09:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for catching that ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... that's a very good point ... and it's born out by the fact that ALEC has already identified amendments it would like to see proposed ... repealing/nullifying federal laws and prohibiting the feds from imposing mandates (they still want the money though!) ...

  •  seeing how Article V (7+ / 0-)

    is in the constitution, using that article does not see like it can subvert the constitution any more than making changes via ammendments.

    •  The problem really ... (4+ / 0-)

      ... is that amendments were supposed to be proposed by Congress or by "We The People" ... the role of the States was to choose whether to ratify any proposed amendment.  If ALEC members (through the States) start proposing amendments we could find ourselves in a real world of hurt ...

      •  that isn't what (4+ / 0-)

        article V says

        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
        The states can ratify and they can call for a convention.
        •  We have seen how ALEC had manipulated (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chimpy, FeltzNook

          state legislatures.  How much more would they be able to manipulate an Article V convention?

          Remember, the original Constitutional Convention was called for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Articles of Confederation.  They came up with a replecement instead.  And they did not have corporate backers lobbying them.

          Ultimately, the only thing that matters with respect to preserving choice is who will be nominating the next Supreme Court Justices.

          by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 08:37:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are many dangers ... (3+ / 0-)

            ... including corporate manipulation of any convention.  My bigger fear is that ALEC will be successful in getting States the opportunity to propose amendments directly. Given the current strongly conservative makeup of many of the State legislatures, it would be possible for them to propose amendments and get them ratified within a fairly short period of time (which would contradict the founders' intent of constructing a lengthy and laborious process for amending the Constitution).

    •  Suppose one of the Amendments was: (7+ / 0-)

      "Congress shall have no power to appropriate funds for enforcement of the Commerce Clause."

      Poof - there goes the effective regulation of interstate trade, food and worker safety, pollution, or any other core governmental function that depends Constitutionally on the Commerce Clause.  Corporations would have free rein to do whatever they damned well pleases without threat of regulation by the federal government.

      Using Article V can cause immense damage.  It can change the face of this country is disastrous ways.

      The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

      by TheOrchid on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 01:02:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Again ... very well said ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheOrchid, cotterperson

        and precisely the sort of amendments we could expect if the floodgates were opened ...

        •  Suppose that the left organizes, plans, proposes, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          1965Dreamer, FeltzNook

          passes, and then obtains ratification of an Amendment providing "Representation in both Chambers of Congress nust be apportioned among the states on the basis of population."

          The whole ugly "Federalism" animal dissolved in one fell swoop.

          There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

          by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 09:25:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is an important point: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Liberals fear a convention for what conservatives would be advocating. But what would liberals be advocating? Once called, would liberals not press in for what they think are good ideas? Whatever is proposed you have to get all one side signed on plus at least half the other or it goes nowhere. In the mean time, the whole country deliberates over such things the Congress never will. I trust We The People more than I trust Congress and corporate power.

            •  I agree with you and SemiAdult ... (0+ / 0-)

              I trust that We The People can and would do the right thing ... if only given the chance ... and that goes back to the issue of applications for a convention ... with 400 applications having been submitted one would think we'd have had a convention called by now ...

              •  There's one reason, and one reason only (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                as to why we haven't had a convention: msm and politicians have misinformed the electorate, leading them to believe that once a convention is called everything is up for grabs. Of course this is untrue because of the ratification process. Once enough of us realize there's nothing to lose and everything to gain through the Constitution's convention clause we will have one. From there the power of the people, through their high law, will become self evident

                •  I have to differ, slightly . . . (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FeltzNook, 1965Dreamer

                  . . . on this one.

                  The reason there hasn't been a convention is that most of the Congress is not willing to risk a shred of power (that is, give up the control of money) to anyone for any reason. Nothing else matters at that level. The very few members who have actual, you know, principles, can't matter very much against that flood.

                  You may be right that the public is misinformed. I would say uninformed, but so is most of the media, therefore it's unfortunate to lay the blame on them in any singular way -- they're part of the obstruction, but hardly all of it. It could be easily argued that most politicians fall into the same useless category. This line of thought clearly leads us to ALEC as more of a source of the lies, which makes the diary all the more important.

                  But we're together on the simple notion that the people, well-informed, know right from wrong.

                  The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

                  by semiAdult on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 10:02:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  would it be any different (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        if the same ammendment was passed by the typical ammendment process?

        Article V is where women got the right to vote and slavery was abolished.

        •  No. You misunderstand. The Article V (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Adam B, FeltzNook

          process referred to is the calling of a Convention to write amendments.  It is not the normal amending process whereby 2/3 of each house of Congress approves an amendment and it then must be ratified by 3/4 of the states.  Instead, a convention is called to write amendments, effectively taking Congress out of the equation.  It has never been used.

          Ultimately, the only thing that matters with respect to preserving choice is who will be nominating the next Supreme Court Justices.

          by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 08:42:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The same argument has been used (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        To support maintaining the filibuster in the Senate.  Some critics point to the laws that conservatives might be able to pass without that legislative firewall.

        •  Slightly off-track, but . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          . . . I have no problem myself with Mr. Smith having his say. Letting the likes of Mitch clog the drains singlehandedly, by threat, with never a public defense of anything, ain't the same.

          The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

          by semiAdult on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 10:24:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Getting thirty eight states to apply for an (6+ / 0-)

    Article V convention for ANYTHING--even something sensible--is next to impossible and may take more money than their corporate sponsors have.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:31:11 PM PDT

    •  no, it's not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FeltzNook, IreGyre

      It's far cheaper to buy a state legislature than it is to buy the national legislature.  ALEC has been quietly working on that for years.  

      They're edging into the sunlight now, but they may think they've got enough power to get this done before their sponsors realize waht they've created and stop the funding.

    •  yes, historically, but now with ALEC... oh-oh (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FeltzNook, jabney

      much easier to subvert with a modified Mao revolution... only adapting the strategy for corporations... and not starting exactly with the peasants in the countryside and encircling the cities... but kinda the same thing... State legislatures subverted step by step... until they cannot be stopped. (in theory)

      Glenn Beck tipped the hand early for all the good it did as an early warning

      "We surround them"...

      "We" being the corporate interests behind the corporate surrogate state Legislatures.

      perhaps the biggest hope that it fails is their greed wrecks the economy enough that the blame can be assigned to them... but they are so slippery they will play the boomerang denial blame game like they always do... and the uninformed will keep voting in corporate puppets.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 10:44:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very much enjoyed this diary! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FeltzNook, Catte Nappe, TheOrchid, chimpy

    I wish I could follow your links, but I can't.

    If you were to edit your diary and remove the first part of the URL ( on each of the links, they'd work.

    Much appreciate it if you could do this.  Thanks.

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:44:43 PM PDT

  •  Article V does not limit the scope of Amendments.. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FeltzNook, weck, Catte Nappe, chimpy

    ...theoretically, you could amend the entire Constitution in such a convention, replacing it entirely.  That would eliminate any supposed distinction between "constitutional convention" and "Article V convention".

    The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

    by TheOrchid on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:50:12 PM PDT

  •  Lots of hard work in this diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheOrchid, weck, FeltzNook, chimpy

    Unfortunately, most (all?) of the links don't work. It appears you have concatenated the URL for this diary with the URL you intended to link to.

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:53:29 PM PDT

  •  I miss our local Article V trolls, by the way. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Romney '12: Bully for America!

    by Rich in PA on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 01:19:04 PM PDT

  •  OMG!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's been pointed out that none of my links work ... I will get them fixed and republish ... thanks for pointing that out to me!!

  •  The convention (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimpy, FeltzNook

    may propose amendments, but it is the states which decide whether or not to ratify. In other words, it will be the people of the states lobbying their state legislators for what amendments they desire.

    The convention process would be a grand civics lesson for the entire nation, and it would open a can of worms for corporate interests. We The People could have that national conversation which we deserve.

    A non-binding deliberative assembly is exactly what corporate power does not want to have happen.

    •  Unfortunately . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      . . . the current status of the states and what they might support is 'iffy' at best. I call your attention to the idiocy in North Carolina recently, and the long term battle over the H8 Amendment in California... consider what would happen if (or when, on a pessimistic day) such stuff came from an Article V environment.

      No, I don't think it's likely any trash like that could survive the necessary approvals to become law. But we have enough crazies out polluting things already, and giving them more rope to tie things up for years and years is hardly appetizing.

      Here's something to think about, from all this. The one thing that serves the purpose of someone (or something) that intends to subvert the government is... misdirection. Keep them looking at the shiny thing, like any magic act, while the real stuff happens out of sight. ALEC and their stooges are really really good at it. Article V is like the box where they saw the girl in half. Gotta give them credit for great theater.

      The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

      by semiAdult on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 09:02:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The misdirection you speak of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is and has always been in regards to the convention clause of Article V. Corporate power has done everything within its power for over fifty years to prevent a convention. Why would that be if it's so easily controlled and subverted?

        At a convention, what you'll find is that corporate shills will be exposed for who and what they are by what they say, i.e. proposing questionable amendments; and the "crazies" will be marginalized.

        What folks ought to consider is that by the time we get to the convention, after it is called and delegates elected, we will no longer be living in the current status quo of institutionalized corruption. Politics as usual will be dead. We'll be living in a different country. I have complete faith in the American people to propose and ratify amendments which are in the public's interests.

        •  I agree. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          1965Dreamer, FeltzNook

          I too have faith in the American people, in fact any people, so long as they have the information necessary to the cause. What scares me is the real possibility that they do not, that they will not, and that the process runs on the basis of what the superPAC funds spew today.

          Given a level playing field -- that is, facts in the open and a real discussion -- I also agree that the shills and scammers won't like or survive the sunlight.

          The crazies always work at the margins. What gives them leverage is the total distortion of the conversation, and the lack of appropriate, honest information in play. Fixing that -- diaries like this one, and this exchange -- are part of the work we need to be doing.

          The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

          by semiAdult on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 09:33:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  A grand civics lesson indeed ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... and I believe that civics lesson needs to be learned by the electorate ... I am encouraged by the fact that mock conventions are being held for this very purpose ...

    •  Our right to enjoy majority rule in ways that we (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      wish to constitutionally enshrine are not limited by the forms of ratification that the conditions in the 1780's necessitated.

      We need some form of supermajority support (to me no less than the approval of 60% of the population will suffice) but we have the right to decide to agree that ratification proceed strictly on the basis of popular support.

      There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

      by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 09:40:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Answers to Questions: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Answering a few key questions in the list below in turn answers several others. Therefore, the answers are not in numeric order.

    1. How would Delegates be selected or elected to a Constitutional Convention?

    2. What authority would be responsible for determining the number of Delegates from each state?

    3. What authority would be responsible for electing the Delegates to the convention?

    4. Would Delegates be selected based on Population, number of Registered Voters, or along Party lines?

    5. Would Delegates be selected based on race, ethnicity or gender?

    6. What authority would be responsible for organizing the convention, such as committee selection, committee chairs and members, etc.?

    7. How would the number of Delegates serving on any committee be selected and limited?

    8. How would the Chair of the Convention be selected or elected?

    9 What authority will establish the Rules of the Convention, such as setting a quorum?

    10. What authority would be responsible for selecting the venue for the Convention?

    11. Would proposed amendments require a two thirds majority vote for passage?

    12. How would the number of votes required to pass a Constitutional Amendment be determined?

    13. What would happen if the Con Con decided to write its own rules so that 2/3 of the states need not be present to get amendments passed?

    14. Could a state delegation be recalled by its legislature during the convention?

    15. Would non-Delegates be permitted inside the convention hall?

    16. Will demonstrators be allowed and/or controlled outside the convention hall?

    17. Would Congress decide to submit Con Con amendments for ratification to the state legislatures or to a state constitutional convention as permitted under Article V of the constitution?

    18. Where would the Convention be held?

    19. Who will fund this Convention?

    A convention only requires a single set of operational answers to function if the answers are based on constitutional grounds. For most of the questions, a simple, straightforward response, "just like Congress" suffices. In fact, under the terms of the 14th Amendment, no other response is possible. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled citizens within a legal class require equality under the law. Convention delegates and members of Congress, as the only citizens empowered to propose amendments, form a legal class. Further, members of Congress and convention delegates represent citizens requiring equal treatment under the law. As matter of law then, delegates and members of Congress must be treated equally. Thus, if one part of the legal class suffers election, then election applies to the entire class. If a law regulates one part, the law also equally applies to the rest of the class.

    This principle of equality answers several of the questions. Question #3, for example, requires an answer everyone should already know. The authority responsible for electing delegates to a convention is the authority of the people, just like Congress. This then answers questions 4 and 5. First, as is well known to anyone in this country, the days of election based on race, ethnicity or gender has long since passed in this country. Therefore, the answer is no such conditions have any place in the election of delegates. Numerous federal and state laws ensure this fact, just like Congress. As to Question #4, all members of Congress are elected based on population, not by number of registered voters and certainly not party lines. True, a majority of registered voters voting for a candidate ensures their election, and true most candidates are members of one or the other party--nevertheless, the basis of elections is population. Therefore, just like Congress, delegate election is based on population.

    The election will be by election in House of Representative districts. The basis of this conclusion is constitutional qualifications of age, citizenship, and habitation for a house seat are the lowest in the Constitution. To require a convention delegate to satisfy a higher standard than the lowest possible for a member of Congress is discrimination. Therefore, delegate election is based on the standards set for the House of Representatives. As such, election is based on population within the state; each state delegation contains a different number of individuals each representing a certain portion of population within that state.

    However, when the state delegation arrives at the convention, that delegation must be equal with all other state delegations. Again, the principle of the 14th Amendment prevails. No state can be more equal than another state or more expressly, the citizens of any one state cannot enjoy more privilege or immunity than the citizens of any other state. Thus, under the terms of the Constitution, the voting power of each state must be equal. Hence, each state delegation receives a single vote. Each state delegation will vote among its membership to determine the outcome of that vote. In this manner therefore, representation for all citizens as well as states is equal at the convention. This answers Question #2.

    Questions 6, 7, 8 and part of 9 are answered by the fact that just like Congress, the convention has the constitutional as well as inherent right to determine its rules and select its officers. This fact, established in the Constitution for Congress, must equally apply to the convention. Thus, the authority for delegate selection for committees, number of delegates in such committees, organization of the convention and choice of chair, is the convention itself. The authority to organize lies within the convention itself, just as is with Congress or for that matter, any organization at any level found anywhere in this nation. Whatever the organization, it has an inherent right to organize itself according to its own rules and procedures, which it has the right to establish. However, just like Congress, those rules are subject to the terms of the Constitution. As with most organizations, the convention will use Robert's Rules of Order to begin the organization process. It will develop its own set of procedures from that origin.

    Questions 9 and 14 contain references regarding a state withdrawing its delegation. There is no such authorization in the Constitution enabling the state to remove a member of Congress by recall. Removal of a member of Congress is either by resignation or election defeat. There is no recall of a member of Congress. The same rule applies to delegates to a convention; no recall.

    As to setting quorum (referred to in Question #9), the word itself defines the term of quorum for the convention. The definition of a quorum is one half plus one of the total voting members present to conduct business. In this case, therefore, twenty-six state delegations (with each state delegation having quorum within it) must be present for the convention to conduct its business. Just as Congress is under a constitutional quorum requirement in order to conduct business, the 14th Amendment mandates the same restriction on the convention.

    Questions 10 and 18 deal with venue, a term usually associated with judicial proceedings, which a convention clearly is not. The word venue refers to the location of a court, or, in this case, the location of the convention. The Constitution is clear on this point. It is the expressed responsibility of Congress to issue a convention call. A "call" is defined as establishing a "time and a place" for a meeting. Congress did this when it called the 1787 Federal Convention. The call specified the convention be held in Philadelphia beginning in May 1787. Under the terms of the Constitution, Congress retains this power and responsibility. The power of call however is extremely limited. Setting the time and place of a meeting does not grant Congress the right to set the agenda of the convention, appoint its officers, veto its amendment proposals or attempt other controls proposed in congressional legislation of the past. It expressly means Congress issues a call naming the time and place for the convention and nothing else.

    Questions 10, 11, 12 and 13 deal with votes by the convention for proposed amendments. The answer to Question #11 is obvious. Article V mandates that proposal of amendment for Congress is by two-thirds vote (assuming a quorum of membership in each house). The same must apply to a convention under the principle of the 14th Amendment. Thus, two-thirds of the state delegations present (assuming a quorum) must propose the amendment. Therefore the answer is, yes a proposed amendment must receive two-thirds vote (assuming a quorum) from the convention in order to be proposed. This answer in turn answers questions 12 and 13.

    The answer to Question #12 is just like Congress, the use of simple arithmetic determines the number of votes required to pass an amendment. Assuming all state delegations are present, the required vote is 34 state delegations. However, just like Congress, the Supreme Court has ruled that not all members of Congress must be present in order to propose amendment. The courts have expressly and repeatedly ruled Congress operates under a quorum rule. Therefore, if a quorum is present, the number of members required to pass a proposed amendment is two-thirds of that quorum or two-thirds of total membership present assuming the number of members present is more than a quorum but less than full membership in attendance.

    Just like Congress, therefore, a convention could constitutionally pass an amendment with as few as 19 state delegations in attendance (26 being a quorum, two-thirds of that being 19). However, just like Congress, this is nearly impossible both politically and constitutionally. Just like Congress, absent state delegations can be compelled to attend the convention as amendment opponents would compel all state delegations to attend and, just like Congress, the opposition would quickly come to the floor making political stunts impossible. The answer to Question #13 is the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled a house of Congress can pass an amendment provided a quorum exists in the house. The convention, just like Congress, is bound to obey that ruling.

    Questions 15 and 16 concern keeping order at a convention. In sum, just like Congress and for that matter, as is true of any large public gathering, law enforcement will do its job; keep the peace. Obviously, the extent of this requirement depends on the actions of those requiring regulation, meaning if the crowd grows unruly law enforcement will act as they have countless times to maintain order. Further, as a convention is a federal function, the President has authority to provide such protection and security as warranted, permitting the convention to go about its constitutional task. How well the people behave and who might cause problems answers Question #15. If people behave, the convention permits spectators, just like Congress. If not, just like Congress, spectators are barred.

    Question #19 concerns convention funding-specifically who will fund a convention. However, before answering the question of who will fund a convention, first requires answering what funding needs exist. Clearly, the needs determine the costs. If the needs are minimal, then so are costs. The amount of costs greatly affect the source of funding. This warrants an examination of the possible types of convention and associated costs. Only then can the issue of who funds a convention be reasonably determined.

    Questions 15 and 16 clearly indicate some, if not most, envision a large body of people physically located inside a convention hall surrounded by large numbers of press and public. They obviously anticipate protests, possibly to the level of riot. In short, a typical political convention, and according to some, an Article V Convention is identical to a political convention. Each will have massive demonstrations, noisy crowds, confusion and tumult. This form of democracy, which began with the election of Andrew Jackson, strikes fear in the heart of some. Interestingly, they fail to mention conventions have produced political leaders as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, both Roosevelts, Harry Truman and many others. Given the contributions these men have made to our nation, it appears we benefit from conventions some say we should fear.

    In the analogous assumption that all conventions are alike, it fails to acknowledge a basic constitutional fact: the Article V Convention is not a political convention. The purpose of a political convention is to nominate a candidate, whose campaign is future based, i.e., what will be done in the future. The purpose of the Article V Convention is to discuss ideas, proposals and concepts and to implement them, i.e., what action occurs in the present. Thus, the political convention makes decisions based on speculation, which is most prone to emotionalism, i.e., what people want to happen rather than what will happen. Candidates at conventions make promises of emotion, promising outcomes regarding future events with no guarantee whatsoever those events will transpire as promised. The candidate has no way to ensure he can affect future events as promised, and so forced to play on emotion, making people believe they can affect the future as promised. Thus, the bases of political convention nominations are events after the convention concludes. Only after the convention concludes does the candidate become an office holder if elected to that position. Nothing during the existence of the political convention can absolutely guarantee that. It is speculation.

    Unlike a political convention, the Article V Convention deals expressly and exclusively with the reality of amendment proposals, proposals that must be written before the convention concludes. In order to propose an amendment, the convention must write the amendment during its existence. Once written the amendment text cannot be altered by Congress or the states. Congress can only decide on the method of ratification; the states can only vote up or down on the proposed amendment. Thus, the convention is aware before adjournment of the circumstances of its proposal. No uncertainty exists, as is the case with a political convention. While it is true a convention cannot predict future events, nevertheless, the convention knows its proposal is what will be in the Constitution, assuming ratification. There is no speculation in this. This certainty affects all events at the convention, from debate to possible passage.

    The very act of written amendment certainty coupled with the overwhelming numbers necessary to actually propose an amendment from the convention, not to mention the serious gravity associated with any amendment of the convention will cause serious debate not ruckus protest. Congress serves as the best example of this. If correct regarding the amendment procedure then to prove their point they would not cite the example of a political convention. True, there are records of strenuous civil debate regarding proposed amendments. The debates were in an atmosphere of decorum and order. There is nothing to suggest a convention will be any different.

    In the discussion of convention costs this certainty means unlike a political convention, the convention is limited in its actions and its costs. All a convention can do is intake information, process it and, assuming approval in vote, propose amendments. In short, the convention will do no more than exchange information from the public to its members, exchange that information between its members and ultimately export that information in the form of proposed amendments. All necessary information is in writing. Given the requirement of thoughtful, objective thinking required to decide such a serious issue as amendment of the Constitution, the exclusive use of writing, more prone to objective rather than subjective interpretation presents the convention a distinct advantage and an additional check in its system.

    It is one thing to fantasize that radical proposals, such as repeal of all constitutional rights, will dominate the convention. It is quite another to expect in the real world a delegate will actually write such an amendment proposal, i.e., repeal of all constitutional rights currently enjoyed by Americans. It is even more absurd to believe any sane American will ratify, let alone favor, by two-thirds vote in a convention such a proposal.

    The compulsory writing of amendment proposals by delegates creates yet another barrier in the process. During the election campaign of delegates, the electorate will inquire of prospective delegates what amendment proposals the candidate favors. The convention deals only with amendment. Therefore, this is a certainty. The electorate will require written demonstration of what the candidate favors and judge his work. The election will actually be a referendum on the various amendment proposals, with delegates selected based on support or opposition to those proposals. Unquestionably, as is true in all elections, those with the more radical propositions will be rejected by the electorate. Thus, the electorate will eliminate radical proposals and their proponents even before the convention occurs. Only those proposals with the most popular support will survive the process. Not one state has ever proposed eliminating a single right currently enjoyed by Americans in any application which exists to date. In fact, it is the exact opposite. The states seek to increase the rights of the American people, that is, give them more rights than they currently enjoy.

    Because a convention requires no more than exchange of written information, a convention can be virtual rather than physical. The cost savings are obvious and significant. The virtual convention also presents political advantages. The delegates can remain at residence within the districts that elected them. This makes them more available to their constituents. Thanks to the Internet, delegates could live lives more close to normal than the intrusion of a physical convention permits. A virtual convention permits constituents to keep a more stringent eye on their representative than a physical convention affords them. The virtual convention allows many in the community who cannot afford to seek office due to the loss of income associated with attending a physical convention to campaign, as they are not deprived of this income during a virtual convention. For the delegate and constituent, wherever there is a computer and Internet connection, there is the convention. Finally, the virtual convention affords a complete accuracy of convention events thus giving the public full disclosure of the events.

    The choice of what kind of convention, physical versus virtual, therefore plays an important role in determination of costs. The costs of a virtual convention are minimal. Even if it was determined the convention required a site, the cost is low when compared to the millions required for a physical convention. A physical convention requires expense for security, transportation, housing, food, sanitation, rent, utilities, communications and employees to name a few, none of which exist or are much lower for a virtual convention.

    The answer to the question of who funds a convention requires answering what kind of convention there is. The costs of a virtual convention are minimal. The costs in question can be borne by the delegates themselves or by use of Internet advertising posted on the site. On the other hand, a physical convention would require an investment certainly in the millions.

    Who would fund the multi-millions needed for a physical convention? The first obvious answer is Congress. After this are the states, public donations and finally private funding by one or more wealthy individuals. This last possibility can be dispensed with immediately. The temptation of a single individual or individuals gaining control of a convention through private funding not accountable to public inspection or review makes this alternative unacceptable. Likewise, public donations have a place in our society, but dependence on them for funding a convention is impractical. There is no guarantee sufficient monies can be raised to cover the millions in physical convention costs. This unreliability makes this alternative unworthy of further consideration.

    This leaves state or congressional funding. The latter is impractical for two reasons. First, the courts have ruled Congress is free to insert whatever terms it wishes in its appropriations. The political controls Congress can impose through its control of appropriations require no further elaboration. Second, the courts have ruled the president can have nothing to do with the amendatory process. As the Constitution mandates the president must approve any appropriation bill, this means the president would then be involved in the amendment process. So much so, that if he desired, the president can simply veto the appropriation bill and prevent a convention entirely for lack of funding. Even if Congress approved a blind grant, giving the convention a lump sum of several millions and allowed that convention to spend the money as it desired with the obvious provisions of proper accounting of expenditures and return of unspent funds, the bill is still be subject to presidential veto. Thus, congressional funding is not an option.

    This leaves equal state funding for the convention. Assuming all state legislatures were amiable, the cost per state is not that high. Based on the costs of other similar events a physical convention stripped of all frills will cost 20 to 40 million dollars. This cost, split 50 ways, calculates to less than one million dollars a state. In comparison, virtual convention costs are measured in the thousands of dollars rather than the millions. It is easily the more attractive economic alternative.

    Therefore, the answer to Question #19 is, depending on what kind of convention is held, physical or virtual, the delegates themselves or the states will fund it.

    Finally is the answer to Question #17. Under the Constitution, the decision of whether to submit proposed amendments to either state legislatures or state conventions lies solely with Congress. Therefore, the answer to the question is yes, Congress will decide to submit the proposed amendments from a convention to the state legislatures or state conventions as prescribed by Article V. The terms for ratification whether proposed by Congress or convention are identical in either case; three-fourths approval from the states. Thus, a simple reading of Article V answers this question.

    •  I am interested ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... in the source of your questions and answers ... they have piqued my interest ...

    •  I'd appreciate recognition (0+ / 0-)

      I'd appreciate when someone uses one of my articles or a major portion thereof that they cite me as a reference. That article does have copyright attached to it and while I have no problem with the material being used, I think the person who posted it should have mentioned me, Bill Walker of as the author.

      The article can be found in its full length on Nolan For everyone's information the questions were posed by Phyllis Schlafly an opponent of a convention, that is to say, someone who opposes a convention.

      One thing I noticed in this was that the author failed to mention how may states have applied for a convention cal or how many applications have been submitted. Remember if 34 states submit 34 applications (two thirds of the current number of 50 states) Congress must call. For the record, the public record shows 49 states have submitted 748 applications for a convention call. You can read the applications at

      The concern about ALEC is legitimate but if you go to the site or to Nolan Chart and begin reading the articles I have written along with the lawsuits you'll quickly see that Natelson's and thus ALEC's positions are bogus and do not reflect true fact.

  •  Who chooses the delegates? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FeltzNook, Adam B, oldpotsmuggler

    If the state legislatures choose delegates, with each state delegation having one vote (which was the model used both for the 1787 Convention and the Confederate constitutional Convention) it might be relatively easy for corporate interests to control a majority of a convention.

    If you had delegates elected to mirror the existing seat distribution of seats in Congress, with each individual delegate having one vote, then it would be more difficult and expensive for one interest to gain complete control of the convention.

    If a convention is called it would not necessarily do what the interests who asked for the convention wanted. Any amendments the convention produced would still need to be ratified by three quarters of the states, which would require quite a wide measure of consensus.

    Having said all that, a drive for an Article V convention being promoted by an organisation like ALEC seems more likely to succeed than the sort of ideas I have seen put forward by individuals writing diaries on this general topic on Daily Kos.

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 09:19:28 AM PDT

    •  Good question! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There is no real way to determine this from the Constitution itself, which leaves even this very basic point up for grabs. And ALEC has stepped up on this one with multiple proposals to define the point, all of which somehow manage to still not answer anything.

      You are right, a convention called, no matter how things begin, would be a total unknown in the legal and Constitutional landscape. A popcorn opportunity, perhaps, but very scary at the same time.

      Your point that ALEC is better positioned to be effectively involved is excellent, and your comparison to the lack of organization among potential rivals for the authority of running or influencing a possible convention is sobering. There is work to do.

      The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

      by semiAdult on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 09:26:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Delegate selection ... (0+ / 0-)

      As mentioned in the diary, I think delegate selection is the most interesting part of this issue.  Would delegates be chosen by State legislatures?  Or would they be elected like members of Congress?  Or, as Lawrence Lessig argues, could they be selected randomly like a jury is selected (to avoid the monied interests of politics-as-usual)?

      The manner of delegate selection would have a huge impact on how successful a convention would be.  And then there's the definition of "success" ... would the convention be more successful if it actually came up with a proposed amendment or if it defeated the factions vying for a particular amendment?

      •  Start with the size we need for The Second (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        American Constitutional Convention to be in order to be effective in helping to resolve out current political stalemate, and answering some of the concerns surrounding the delegate selection issue start to resolve themselves.

        Do you think that, in a nation of 300 plus million people on a planet inhabited by 7 billion of us that secretive results produced by some process dating back hundreds of years will engender any widespread enthusiasim? If so, explain the current approval ratings of Congress.

        Make this puppy large, make this puppy flamboyant, and make this puppy trustworthy. With that formula we have a chance to produce both a process and a work product sufficient to capture human imagination to the degree necessary to create a beacon that can lead the way forward.

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 06:49:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Notice their underhandedness? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I noticed how they try to get buy-in to the whole Article V on their callAconvention website by tying it to Citizens United.  They sure are a crafty lot aren't they?

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  •  I forgot to add (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1965Dreamer, FeltzNook, northerntier


    Wouldn't it be nice to beat them at their own game?  Imagine, getting a bunch non-corporatists to beat them to the punch, and create amendments against Citizens United, and against groups like ALEC?  Now that, that would be priceless.

    •  Exactly: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Why worry about what "they" would do when we could focus on what we know must be done? We liberals need to have more faith in ourselves.

    •  What's wrong with what ALEC does? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManfromMiddletown, FeltzNook

      Yes, we disagree with their legislative ends, but why would we want to make what they're doing illegal?

      As far as beating them at their own game, see Lessig.

      •  What ALEC is doing . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        . . . is attempting to supplant the law as it exists with excuses and rearrangements to the advantage of ALEC members.

        ALEC does, technically, follow at least a vague interpretation of the 'rules'. That's really important, that they 'interpret' the rules. Best example at hand is their approach to Article V, where they neatly bag the Federal congress by trying to say it's OK for the states to write amendments to the Constitution. How can that work, and still have a Constitution?

        It's not about making ALEC illegal (although when they do illegal things under current law, it's hardly a benefit if they avoid all responsibility -- see: bankers, in jail). It's about making ALEC visible, forcing them into the sunlight.

        The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

        by semiAdult on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 09:55:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Two things (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          First the constitution gives the states the right to hold a convention and ratify amendments as long as they do not mess with the 2 senators per state rule. They really do not need Congresses approval for this. And I think that the convention proposal, agreed by the 2/3rds of the staes necessary to do this would create their own rules for the conduct of the convention.

          Second what a burst of clarity such a convention would bring. Not that I am in favor of it. I am not and the idea scares me silly. But what a way to find out if we really believe everything we say about ourselves as a nation. Do we really believe in a free press, or freedom of religion. We potentially could outlaw political parties, adopt a parliamentary system, define a corporation as a person, define a corporation as not a person, limit the powers of the President or expand them. We could wipe out more than 200 years of court decisions. Everything would become political for awhile. And we would learn wbho we really are.

          Not  to mention the unavoidable violence on the streets or even civil war. And please do not misunderstand me this would be a very bad idea.

          •  Not exactly... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ALEC wants to promote the idea that the states alone can force something on the Federal Constitution, and that the Congress can do nothing to stop them. The states do have a role in the amendment process, but all they can do about an Article V convention is to request one. Congress is the ONLY authority to approve it. And even if all 50 states make such a request, and all the legal curliques are correct, there is no guarantee that Congress WILL approve such a beast.

            The fact that ALEC has made proposals that differ from the law as it exists, in the Constitution, as imperfect and incomplete as that law is, should matter. And THAT is at the heart of this diary, and the proper question at hand.

            Agreed, any sort of convention, or any other reasonable (as unreasonable as it might be to expect it to be) discussion should be a good and scary experience. Done well, the exposure of all the games and scams could only be a benefit. For myself, I firmly believe that people, given facts and a bit of time to digest them, will make the best decisions.

            The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

            by semiAdult on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 01:28:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I disagree ... (0+ / 0-)

            I do not think the Constitution gives the states "the right to hold a convention" ... Article V allows that a convention may be called upon application of the States ... those are two completely different things ... in fact, that is precisely the difference between interpretation by Constitutional scholars (convention of the people) versus by ALEC (convention of the States).

      •  When we protested (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        them in Cincinnati, we had four measures we asked them to take.

        We stand here today calling for four small measures.

        First, your organization has not made full disclosure of your donors’ names and amounts given. If our government is to be of the people, it is unfitting for a privileged few to set the public agenda from the shadows. We ask you to make full disclosure of all donors on all amounts given over $200.

        Second, your organization has a number of members who hold elected office. If our government is to be by the people, they ought to know when their elected representatives are members of groups which provide privileged access to the legislative process. We ask you to call upon your elected membership to make full disclosure of their participation in your organization.

        Third, your organization disseminates and coordinates legislative agendas across state governments through the production of model legislation, the full text of which you fail to disclose to the public. If our government is to be for the people, they deserve access to the full content of public policy discussion. We call upon you to make the full text of your model legislation freely available to the public.

        Finally, there has not been full disclosure of cases in which you model legislation is entered into bills under consideration by state legislatures. We ask you to call upon your members to make full disclosure of the source of the legislative text they enter into consideration.

        I understand what you are trying to say about distinguishing message from means, and our outrage needs to be focused on their means. It says something of the success of the push against ALEC in the last year that there has been progress on most of these fronts, but there still is work to do.  

        by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 09:57:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing short of The Second American (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Constitutional Convention will suffice, and our energy will be better spent in seeing that said Convention is structured correctly, than on trying, at this stage, to micromanage the outcome.

    We need a Convention large enough to both contain sufficient collective brain power, and to guarantee that the body is beholden to no one. To me, the low end of the membership range is 5,000, and the upper end would be no more than 50,000. One half of the membership should be selected by the major universities of the country, and the other half should broadly represent non-acdademia. I would allow each sitting member of Congress one appointment (with self appointment being permitted), and, other than that, nothing would be done on a state by state basis. Unions can choose and send delegations, as can politically oriented entites (left, right, center, etc.) like Sierra Club, and Chamber of Commerece. Trade groups, yes, but individual businesses of any sort would simply not be permitted representation.

    Pick a venue (or venues if a larger body is preferred), have Congress extend Carte Blance, pick a starting time, ring the opening bell as chosen, and the rest of us get out of the way (except for a full media contingent) until the dust finally settles.

    For the work product, an up or down ratification process.


    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 10:06:11 AM PDT

  •  Excellent Diary that started an excellent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    thread of discussion.

    Great work Feltznook!
    An excellent job.

    Thank you for helping to shine the light on ALEC and the federalist agenda that they have been honing since the early 1980's.  Now when people hear/see their ALEC legislator's talking points of free markets and federalism - they will know how incredibly dangerous that ALEC mantra is.

    Can't wait to see/read where you expertise takes us next on the ALEC journey.


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