By Senator Lena C. Taylor
The Constitution Is Fine, It’s the Leadership That is the Problem
If you are like many residents, you have begun to realize there are loopholes in the Constitution that have allowed for questionable behavior and dysfunction between the varying branches of government. Many of the rules that we assumed governed our nation apparently are not written in stone or on parchment paper. Instead, it appears we have been operating on an honor system. These past few years we’ve learned the hard way what can happen when less than honorable people gain positions of power. The system goes haywire.
In response to these concerns, grumblings of the need for a Constitutional convention have surfaced among unlikely supporters. Afterall, we know that there has been a coordinated effort amongst conservatives to get their hands on the constitution. Under the guise of either a need for a balanced federal budget or the need to limit the powers of the federal government, impose fiscal restraints on federal spending, and applying term limits for Members of Congress, left leaning legislators would like to make some changes. Liberal groups have also discussed an amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC.
Whether frustrated with a President who believes that he heads an autocracy, or a Department of Justice who believes that you cannot indict a sitting President, anti-constitutional advocates are showing signs of wear. Whatever the reason, our nation is moving closer to the needed bar set by the founders to call for a Constitutional Convention.
But to ensure that we are all on the same page, The U.S. Constitution offers two methods to make changes to our nation’s governing document in Article V. Since 1789, in order to amend the Constitution a two-thirds vote, in each chamber of Congress must pass and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
The other option has not been tried. However, in Article V, of the U.S. Constitution allows two-thirds of state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention, also known as an “Article V convention,” to make amendments to the Constitution. They must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. In our nation’s history, an Article V convention has never been called by Congress. This week, legislation (SJR 57) was heard in the state’s Senate Committee on Insurance, Financial Services, Government Oversight and Courts. Republicans introduced the measure using the strategy that a convention of the States was needed to pass amendments “restraining abuses of power by the federal government.”
My opposition to a Constitutional Convention remains the same. There are no guidelines or rules that prevent the convention conveners from going of the rails. Regardless of what is said, they would not have to be bound in the limit and scope of their work. I encourage everyone to revisit the gathering of states that resulted in the Constitution we have today.
It looks very different from the original stated intent of that historic 1787 meeting. Today we are not experiencing a constitutional crisis. We are experiencing a crisis of leadership.