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Constitutional covention is dangerous idea

To the Editor:
How many people in the state of Minnesota are aware that there is a movement afoot in our state Legislature to help convoke a national constitutional convention to change our Constitution? There seems to be a news blackout on this.
Article V in our national Constitution provides for two ways to change our Constitution. The first is a comparatively safe way. It is when both houses of Congress approve, by a two-thirds vote, a specifically worded proposed amendment which then must be approved by three-fourths of the states before it can become a part of the Constitution. It is how all 27 amendments, thus far added, have been approved. In this first way, we know exactly what we are going to get at the outset.
Article V’s second way to amend is fraught with danger and ambiguity. This is when two-thirds of all the state legislatures request the federal Congress to call a constitutional convention. Given which Article V states that Congress “shall call a congress for proposing amendments.” (Note that the last word is plural). Then, three-fourths of the states may ratify what the convention sends them to get it into the Constitution.
All judges, legislators, presidents and countless other state and national officials swear an oath to defend the Constitution, but delegates to a national constitutional convention do not have to take this oath. This is because once a constitutional convention is called, it becomes its own authority and cannot be limited. It has the inherent power to be a “runaway” convention.
Lawyers tell us that historical precedent had a big influence in law. In 1787, the delegates from the 13 states met for the first constitutional convention. Their mandate was to correct the defects in the then existing Articles of Confederation. However, it became a “runaway convention” when these delegates ignored their instructions and created a completely new federal system of government. It was indeed fortunate that people like Washington, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton and John Jay were present to create a stronger central government that contained built-in checks and balances designed to prevent concentration of political power in any one branch of government. It was Washington who coined the phrase, “Government, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
It needs to be better known that his very risky second way in Article V is very close to completion. One such effort is called The Balancing Budget Amendment. Thus far, this effort only needs six more state legislatures to make the request, and then the national Congress will be forced to call a constitutional convention. This movement has been cleverly sold to state legislatures by way of conservative principles. It is well financed. It is coordinated nationally by ALEC (the America Legislative Exchange Council). One state legislator told me that this was a spontaneous effort on the state level. I also don’t believe in the Easter Rabbit or the tooth fairy.
Phyllis Schlafy states that “there is nothing wrong with our Constitution except that politicians don’t obey it and liberal judges pretend it to be a ‘living’ document they can interpret according to their own social and economic preferences.” Again, Phyllis writes, “Ours is the longest-lasting constitution in history and enabled us to prosper with (44) peaceful changes in government while accommodating our geographic, economic and population expansion. Washington and Madison both called it a miracle.”
Please contact your local state representative and senator and ask them to vote against the call for another national constitutional convention that can be so easily infiltrated and manipulated.
Ed Burns
Mayer