I had a call from a man who wanted to know the status of a hearing on a proposed resolution in the Ohio State legislature calling for a constitutional convention to balance the budget. Turns out the measure did not pass. My caller feared that, if it had, we would be only one state shy of the required 34 states, (two-thirds of the 50 states under article V of the constitution), needed to force a constitutional convention.

I had not heard of this issue. A search indicated that many of the organizations that are worried about a possible "con-con" are fringe groups. They are more paranoid than ever, now that Barack Obama has been elected, and they see signs everywhere that gun-confiscation and concentration camps are imminent. Their concern is that, once called, a constitutional convention would not be limited to a single issue, such as balancing the budget. Liberties guaranteed by the constitution could be taken away.

To be fair, though, liberals are not anxious to have a con-con either, seeing a threat to the separation between church and state.

What I found is that states can pass all the resolutions they want, but only the U. S. Congress can call for a constitutional convention, and the odds of their doing so are very long. Congress has any number of procedural tools for ensuring that the states cannot force one to take place. State resolutions often stipulate that a convention shall only be limited to the issue in question, which makes them automatically invalid. And even if a con-con were to be convened, its proposed changes would still have to be ratified by three-quarters of the state legislatures, which is very unlikely.

So not to worry, patriots, the constitution is safe.

No comments: