Walt Boyer: Convention idea is full of risks

Published: Monday, March 4, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 1, 2013 at 10:39 p.m.

In recent years, pressure has risen to correct federal abuses via a constitutional convention (con-con), a seemingly sensible way to deal with federal usurpations and excesses. The Constitution's Article V does contain rules for establishing such an assembly. Topics suggested by some as reasons to create a con-con include curtailing abortion, forcing a balanced budget and more.

Some proponents of employing this tactic regularly insist that their specific concern alone will be addressed should a con-con be empowered. But there is no restraint on a con-con once it is created. The only con-con ever held in our nation occurred in 1787 when the Articles of Confederation were to be revised. But the delegates exceeded their mandate, abolished the Articles and produced an entirely new Constitution. The lesson: a con-con has no limits and its delegates can do whatever they please, including abolishing the U.S. Constitution.

Proponents of a con-con point to the Constitutions Article V requirement that whatever is decided by a con-con would then have to be ratified, either by three-fourths of state legislators or by conventions in three-fourths of the states. But, if the con-con abolishes the Constitution, that safeguard disappears. A con-con could produce an entirely different ratifying process. It could even decide that there should be no such process. The scrapping of the Articles of Confederation in 1787 included changing the amendment ratification process from approval by all states to approval by three-fourths. Also, any state ratifying convention, if that method were chosen, could be formed to represent some special interest instead of the attitudes of the people.

Although convening a con-con would be entirely constitutional, the risks of doing so far outweigh the potential benefits both now and for the future. Creating such an assembly, especially in today's volatile political climate, would be foolish and is not recommended. If you value the liberty and freedoms and protections from an overreaching government that our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights assures us, contact your Congressional representatives and tell them to vote no on the con-con.

Walt Boyer is chairman of the Alachua County Tea Party. He lives in Newberry.

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