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A recent statewide poll revealed that over two-thirds of likely Arkansas voters--including 80 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of Democrats, and 65 percent of "others"--want Arkansas to join with other states in triggering a state-led convention to propose constitutional amendments to restrain Washington, D.C.

The states have this power under Article V of our Constitution, but they have yet to use it. Never before have the necessary 34 states agreed that amendments were needed on a particular topic. Today, however, with Washington mired in partisan politics and usurping more and more of the states' policymaking authority, the states' common ground is the understanding that real reform must come from outside the beltway.

This recent poll indicates that voters are united by this understanding as well.

Last week the Arkansas Senate passed my resolution, SJR3, which would add Arkansas to the list of states ready to meet and propose amendments to rein in Washington. I am convinced that the Article V Convention of States process is our last, best hope to restore a responsible, accountable federal government.

Sadly, those who are misinformed about Article V are doing their best to undermine this constitutional solution. They rehash the same tired old arguments over and over again, year after year, with zero factual, legal, or historical evidence to support them. Here are three of their favorites:

• An Article V Convention would be a "new constitutional convention" where delegates could design a whole new government.

• No one knows how an Article V Convention would work; it's a completely unknown, untested process.

• The Founding Fathers were actually rogue agents who abused their authority and crafted an illegitimate Constitution at a "runaway convention" in 1787.

The late Justice Antonin Scalia once compared a certain awful--but persistent--legal framework to "some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in his grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried." This is an apt description of each of the arguments made by Convention of States opponents. Each is soundly refuted by available facts, precedents, and historical data:

Article V clearly and explicitly outlines two processes for "proposing amendments" to "this Constitution"--one process for Congress to use, and another for the states to use to bypass Congress. It does not prescribe any process for a "new constitutional convention."

There are scores of factual precedents for interstate conventions in our nation's history which have been well-documented and studied. Moreover, there are dozens of cases in which courts have interpreted and explained various aspects of Article V. (You can read about this in Professor Robert Natelson's new book, The Law of Article V). State legislatures appoint and control the delegates that represent them at the convention on a one-state, one-vote basis.

We can read for ourselves the instructions the states gave their commissioners to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. It was not a "runaway convention." The founders acted within their authority, as one would have expected from men of their character.

So why do the disproven claims continue to be made?

One of the most appalling trends in our society today is the willingness to believe things people say without regard for what the evidence says. In some situations, there is little evidence to be found, which makes it impossible for an accused to definitively disprove the allegations against him or her.

But this public debate on the Convention of States is different. We do have evidence that disproves the claims made by opponents. We have disproven them. To accept our opponents' arguments anyway is to turn one's back on truth and reason.

To the good people of Arkansas, I make this appeal: If you understand that the federal government must be restrained from the outside, and if you believe that decisions should be made based on facts, evidence, and reason, support the Convention of States Project, and ask your state representatives to pass SJR3.

------------v------------

State Sen. Gary Stubblefield of Branch represents District 6 in the Arkansas Senate.

Editorial on 02/07/2019

Print Headline: Restrain D.C.

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Comments

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  • 23cal
    February 7, 2019 at 8:58 a.m.

    About "State legislatures appoint and control the delegates that represent them at the convention on a one-state, one-vote basis."
    *
    So, California with a population of 39.5 MILLION and Texas with a population of 28.3 MILLION have exactly as much voice as Wyoming with less than 600 THOUSAND or Alaska with 740 THOUSAND. Sounds legit and fair to......whom?
    *
    This is the desperate way around the voice of the people that you can count on from an extreme right wing partisan who knows there are more red states, but a smaller red population. From what I remember in civics class, it was "All MEN are created equal", not all STATES.
    *
    About "An Article V Convention would be a "new constitutional convention" where delegates could design a whole new government." So......what is to stop them? Seriously. There aren't any restrictions or barriers to what happens once the state convention comes together. That is the big kick against it. It isn't limited to one or two or 100 amendments. It can change the foundation of our nation, and there is nothing stopping it. It is a Pandora's box.
    *
    Don't let the manipulator's play on your paranoia that the government is so bad they can just tweak it with an amendment or two and everything will be roses. They all have their own axe to grind, and grind it they will if you let them.
    *
    About "It does not prescribe any process for a "new constitutional convention." Nor does it have rules to preclude that once the convention is convened.
    *
    About "The founders acted within their authority, as one would have expected from men of their character." With all of the indictments of our legislators here lately, I am concerned that we might be somewhat lacking in the department "men of character". A constitutional convention could pass ten thousand amendments, and still be acting " within their authority". Turn a bunch like Stubblefield loose, and that may be exactly what you get.
    *
    The one thing---and it is the most important thing of all---is EXACTLY what amendment or amendments is Stubblefield so hot to have approved at a constitutional convention? EXACTLY what amendment or amendments are totally off the table?
    *
    Don't give people like this that kind of power and turn them loose to force their destructive culture war preferences onto a vulnerable America. It won't end well.

  • Bullgod1984
    February 7, 2019 at 10:19 a.m.

    23cal, where to start.

    Yes, each state gets one vote in a constitutional convention. Any amendments made must then be ratified by 38 of the 50 states to be enacted. Not just a simple majority. Just like the original constitution had to be passed. Based on the 2018 elections, 20 states were majority democrat, with 23 being led by democratic governors. So no need to worry about Republicans finding a way around the voice of the people. Stop fearmongering.

    No, it's not a Pandora box. While you are correct that there is no limit to the number of amendments proposed, it would still take 38 states saying yes to enact any amendment.

    And since the states get to elect the representatives to any constitutional convention, I'm sure there will be plenty of people from the blue states to hinder, I mean balance out, the red.

  • GeneralMac
    February 7, 2019 at 11:44 a.m.

    Perhaps 23CAL should ponder for a minute the NAME of our great country...the United STATES.

    Our neighbor to the north is not called...the United PROVINCES.

    Words matter.

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