The second method to amend the Constitution has never been accomplished since the document was written, but it has come close. Back in 1912, only one more state was needed to call a convention when Congress passed the 17th amendment which allowed the direct election of U.S. Senators. In 1983, only two states were needed to call for a convention on a balanced budget amendment. There is now a movement across the country to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of reigning in the federal government. Thus far, twenty states have passed legislation calling for a convention.
Oklahoma State Senator Steve Russell, (R-Moore) and State Representative Leslie Osborne, (R-Tuttle) are the authors of SB 1903 which states ‘legislative intent for Oklahoma to apply for a single purpose U.S. constitutional convention to propose an amendment that would require approval from the majority of state legislatures before increases in the federal debt could be implemented.’ The bill passed the Senate 27-16 and is now in the State House awaiting consideration.
First, the stated reason Russell and others want to call a constitutional convention is to reign in the federal government. That is a sound motive- the federal government is completely out of control. Re-distributing wealth, taking away our freedoms, mandating what we must buy and the list goes on and on. What Russell and others fail to see is that while Article V allows for calling the convention, there is no guarantee the convention will be for a ‘single purpose.’
Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger had this to say about a “single purpose” Constitutional Convention: “I have also repeatedly given my opinion that there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the convention would obey. After a convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the convention if we don’t like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the confederation Congress “for the sole and express purpose.”
Can you imagine the media circus that would be created if a 21st century constitutional convention were convened? Every article, every jot and tittle, every amendment in the beloved document would be under scrutiny by various special interest groups. There is no way only one single issue would be debated. If you think your constitutional rights are under attack now, convene a convention and see it play out on cable news 24/7 with media talking heads ‘spinning’ the daily proceedings.
Second, even if a constitutional convention was convened and a balanced budget amendment was passed, there is no guarantee it would be followed by Congress. As evidenced by the passage of ObamaCare and dozens of other ‘unconstitutional laws,’ consideration of what the founding document says is seldom a factor in modern day legislation. Convening a Constitutional Convention is exactly what liberals and progressives want. They want the entire document to be up for debate and if they can convince citizens it needs to be added to, they can certainly convince them to take away from it. For those who don’t believe in absolute truth, a constitutional convention is a dream come true.
Third, we do need a balance budget amendment in the Constitution, but Congress should do their job, pass the amendment and let the states ratify it. While they are at it, they should pass amendment on ‘term limits’ and an amendment that limits Congress the power to exercise only the 17 things mentioned in the Constitution they are supposed to do. Not addressing the hard issues is the way we got to this point in our country. Our elected officials need to be held accountable to do their job.
Roman Senator Publius had it right when he said, "Formerly we suffered from crimes; now we suffer from laws." Elected officials should concentrate on following the principles already in the United States Constitution, instead of adding to it.
Contact your Oklahoma State Representative and urge them to oppose SB 1903.