The Birth of A New Constitution: The historical precedent which establishes a proof for the claim that a modern Constitutional Convention cannot be constrained.
Let us set aside for a moment arguments for and against a modern Constitutional Convention. Instead, let’s analyze the reasons why the John Birch Society warns against a probable run-away convention.
Proponents of a Constitutional Convention assure the people that a convention would be limited by the resolutions which empower the meeting and that the ratification of the several states would protect the people from bad amendments. The John Birch Society maintains that the language of the resolutions establishes a convention and its purpose but cannot constrain the power of the delegates who act in a capacity superior to the existing framework of government. They further maintain that the ratification process of the existing governmental framework can also be amended as it is part of the framework that is being modified. The JBS does not reference anything within Article V that supports their assertions, so how do they justify their position? It is justified by an understanding of the historical precedent established in 1787.
I. The concept of a convention: The Sovereign Will of The People
The convention concept is outlined in the Declaration of Independence when it states:
“That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
II. The Confederacy
On June 7th, 1776, The Continental Congress issued what is now known as Lee’s Resolution:
“Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.
That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.”
This resolution resulted in 1) The Declaration of Independence, 2) The Articles of Confederation and 3) The foreign alliances thought necessary to win the War for Independence.
III. A Plea For A More Perfect Union with Unanimous Consent
The Annapolis Maryland Convention in 1786 resolved that a Constitutional Convention should be called to remedy defects in the Articles of Confederation.
“Under this impression, Your Commissioners, with the most respectful deference, beg leave to suggest their unanimous conviction, that it may essentially tend to advance the interests of the union, if the States, by whom they have been respectively delegated, would themselves concur, and use their endeavours to procure the concurrence of the other States, in the appointment of Commissioners, to meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday in May next, to take into consideration the situation of the United States, to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to report such an Act for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to, by them, and afterwards confirmed by the Legislatures of every State, will effectually provide for the same.”
This resolution was submitted to the Congress of the United States along with a letter dated Sept 14, 1786 in the hand of Mr Dickinson. The question of a Convention having been deliberated it was decided in a report on Proceedings in Congress; February 21, 1787 …
“Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several states be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the states render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government & the preservation of the Union.”
IV. A Convention Called
Having the force of a resolution of the Congress, the States in turn, all but one, did appoint delegates to a convention in Philadelphia. This convention later became known as the Constitutional Convention, having derived its name from the fact that its primary fruit was the Constitution that we now discuss.
The references above illustrate that this convention was called to amend the Articles of Confederation in order to remedy its defects. Interestingly, one of its defects was considered the ratification process. Let’s look at the ratification clause in the Articles.
“Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State. “
Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation
This point is important, because, the ratification clause within the Constitution is held up as a safeguard for a future convention, so this precedent seems to indicate that that is a logical fallacy.
V. A Run Away Convention
Is it fair to classify the Convention of 1787 as a runaway convention? If “runaway” is defined as having exceeded the mandates upon which it was called, yes. If “runaway” is defined as having altered the ratification process, yes. The Convention of 1787 most assuredly was a runaway convention, however, that does not negate its effectiveness nor its legitimacy. It does, however, provide justification for concern and prudence when deliberating the possibility of a second convention today.
Having sited the Articles of Confederation and Congressional resolutions, it is also expedient to list the actual state resolutions which empowered the delegates:
Sect. II. BE it therefore enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, That seven Commissioners be appointed by joint ballot of both Houses of Assembly, who, or any three of them, are hereby authorized as Deputies from this Commonwealth, to meet such Deputies as may be appointed and authorised by other States, to assemble in Convention at Philadelphia, as above recommended, and to join with them in devising and discussing all such alterations and further provisions, as may be necessary to render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and in reporting such an Act for that purpose, to the United States in Congress, as, when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several States, will effectually provide for the same.
Resolved, That the Honorable David Brearley, William C. Houston, William Paterson and John Neilson, esquires, commissioners appointed on the part of this state, or any three of them, be, and they hereby are authorized and empowered to meet such commissioners as have been or may be appointed by the other states in the Union at the city of Philadelphia, in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on the second Monday in May next, for the purpose of taking into consideration the state of the Union as to trade and other important objects, and of devising such further provisions as shall appear necessary to render the Constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies thereof.
Sect. II. Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted by the Representatives of the Freemen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, That Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Jared Ingersoll, Thomas Fitzsimons, James Wilson and Governeur Morris, Esquires, are hereby appointed deputies from this state to meet in the convention of the deputies of the respective states of North-America, to be held at the city of Philadelphia, on the second day of the month of May next. And the said Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Jared Ingersoll, Thomas Fitzsimons, James Wilson and Governeur Morris, Esquires, or any four of them are hereby constituted and appointed deputies from this state, with powers to meet such deputies as may be appointed and authorised by the other states to assemble in the said convention at the city aforesaid, and to join with them in devising, deliberating on, and discussing all such alterations and further provisions as may be necessary to render the foederal constitution fully adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and in reporting such act or acts for that purpose, to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several states, will effectually provide for the
I. Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly of the state of North-Carolina, and by the authority of the same, That five Commissioners be appointed by joint ballot of both Houses of Assembly, who, or any three of them, are hereby authorised as Deputies from this state, to meet at Philadelphia on the first day of May next, then and there to meet and confer with such Deputies as may be appointed by the other states for similar purposes, and with them to discuss and decide upon the most effectual means to remove the defects of our federal union, and to procure the enlarged purposes which it was intended to effect, and that they report such an act to the General Assembly of this state, as when agreed to by them, will effectually provide for the …
Sect. 1. BE IT THEREFORE ENACTED by the General Assembly of Delaware, That George Read, Gunning Bedford, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, and Jacob Broom, Esquires, are hereby appointed Deputies from this State to meet in the Convention of the Deputies of other States, to be held at the City of Philadelphia on the Second Day of May next. And the said George Read, Gunning Bedford, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, and Jacob Broom, Esquires, or any Three of them, are hereby constituted and appointed Deputies from this State, with Powers to meet such Deputies as may be appointed and authorized by the other States to assemble in the said Convention at the City aforesaid, and to join with them in devising, deliberating on, and discussing, such Alterations and further Provisions, as may be necessary to render the Federal Constitution adequate to the Exigencies of the Union; and in reporting such Act or Acts for that Purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several States, may effectually provide for the same: So always and provided, that such Alterations, or further Provisions, or any of them, do not extend to that Part of the Fifth Article of the Confederation of the said States, finally ratified on the first Day of March, in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-one, which declares, that “in determining Questions in the United States in Congress assembled, each State shall have one Vote.”
Be it ordained by the Representatives of the Freemen of the State of Georgia, in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, That William Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, George Walton, William Houstoun, and Nathaniel Pendleton, Esquires, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners, who, or any two or more of them, are hereby authorised as deputies from this state to meet such deputies as may be appointed and authorised by other states, to assemble in convention at Philadelphia, and to join with them in devising and discussing all such alterations and farther provisions, as may be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the union, and in reporting such an Act for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several states, will effectually provide for the same. In case of the death of any of the said deputies, or of their declining their appointments, the Executive are hereby authorised to supply such vacancies.
Resolved (if the honorable the Senate concur herein), That five delegates be appointed on the part of this state, to meet such delegates as may be appointed on the part of the other states respectively, on the second Monday in May next, at Philadelphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress, and to the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the several states, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union; and that in case of such concurrence, the two houses of the legislature will meet, on Thursday next, at such place as the honorable the Senate shall think proper, for the purpose of electing the said delegates, by joint ballot.
And it is further Resolved, that the Said Delegates on the part of this Commonwealth be, and they are hereby instructed not to acceed to any alterations or additions that may be proposed to be made in the present Articles of Confederation, which may appear to them, not to consist with the true republican Spirit and Genius of the Said Confederation: and particularly that they by no means interfere with the fifth of the Said Articles which provides, “for the annual election of Delegates in Congress, with a power reserved to each State to recal its Delegates, or any of them within the Year & to send others in their stead for the remainder of the year— And which also provides, that no person shall be capable of being a Delegate for more than three years in any term of six years, or being a Delegate shall be capable of holding any Office under the United States for which he or any other for his benefit, receives any salary, fees, or emolument of any kind”— Ordered that the Secretary serve the aforenamed Delegates, severally, and such others as may hereafter be appointed in their stead with an attested copy of the last foregoing resolve—
Be it enacted by the honorable the senate and house of representatives now met and sitting in general assembly, and by the authority of the same, THAT five commissioners … by virtue of this act. shall be and are hereby authorised as deputies from this state. to meet such deputies or commissioners as may be appointed and authorised by other of the united states, to assemble in convention at the city of Philadelphia in the month of May next after passing this act. or as soon thereafter as may be, and to join with such deputies or commissioners, they being duly authorised and impowered in devising and discussing all such alterations, clauses, articles and provisions as may be thought necessary to render the federal constitution entirely adequate to the actual situation and future good government of the confederated states, and that the said deputies or commissioners, or a majority of those who shall be present, provided the state be not represented by less than two, do join in reporting such an act to the united states in congress assembled, as when approved and agreed to by them, and duly ratified and confirmed by the several states, will effectually provide for the exigencies of the union.
That the Honble William S. Johnson, Roger Sherman & Oliver Ellsworth Esqrs be, and they hereby are, appointed Delegates to attend the sd Convention, and are requested to proceed to the City of Philadelphia for that Purpose, without Delay, and the said Delegates, and in Case of Sickness or Accident, such one or more of them, as shall actually attend the said Convention, is and are hereby authorized and impowered to represent this State therein, & to confer with such Delegates appointed by the several States, for the Purposes mentioned in the sd Act of Congress, that may be present and duly empowered to act in said Convention, and to discuss upon such Alterations and Provisions, agreeable to the general Principles of Republican Government, as they shall think proper, to render the federal Constitution adequate to the Exigencies of Government, and the Preservation of the Union; and they are further directed, pursuant to the said Act of Congress, to report such Alterations and Provisions, as may be agreed to, by a Majority of the united States represented in Convention, to the Congress of the United States, and to the General Assembly of this State.
Be it enacted, by the general assembly of Maryland, That the honourable James McHenry, Daniel of Saint Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll, John Francis Mercer, and Luther Martin, Esquires, be appointed and authorised, on behalf of this state, to meet such deputies as may be appointed and authorised by any other of the United States to assemble in convention at Philadelphia, for the purpose of revising the federal system, and to join with them in considering such alterations, and further provisions, as may be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the union, and in reporting such an act for that purpose to the United States in congress assembled, as, when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several states, will effectually provide for the same; and the said deputies, or such of them as shall attend the said convention, shall have full power to represent this state for the purposes aforesaid; and the said deputies are hereby directed to report the proceedings of the said convention, and any act agreed to therein, to the next session of the general assembly of this
Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in general court convened, that John Langdon, John Pickering, Nicholas Gilman, and Benjamin West Esqrs be, and hereby are, appointed Commissioners; they, or any two of them, are hereby authorized, and impowered, as Deputies from this State to meet at Philadelphia said Convention, or any other place to which the said Convention may be adjourned; for the purposes aforesaid, there to confer with such deputies, as are, or may be appointed by the other States for similar purposes; and with them to discuss and decide upon the most effectual means to remedy the defects of our federal union; and to procure, and secure, the enlarged purposes which it was intended to effect, and to report such an act, to the United States in Congress, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several States, will effectually provide for the same—
As the Freemen at large here have the Power of electing Delegates to represent them in Congress, we could not consistantly appoint Delegates in a Convention, which might be the means of dissolving the Congress of the Union and having a Congress without a Confederation.
It is clear by the 12 resolutions empowering delegates and the refusal to do so on the part of Rhode Island that the intended purpose of the Convention was to amend the Articles not replace them but Rhode Island certainly saw the possibility of a greater change. It is also clear that the state legislatures fully expected to have an opportunity to approve or reject the plan that would be produced by the convention.
In reality, the state legislatures’ delegation of authority was their last involvement in the process. We read in the new Constitution, a new rule for ratification:
“The ratification of the conventions of nine states, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this constitution between the states so ratifying the same.”
The idea of unanimous consent was abrogated and the several State Legislatures were circumvented in favor of state conventions. Even the argument that the new Constitution was simply an alteration of the Articles of Confederation will not hold water for two reasons: 1) Some of the language in the new Constitution is careful to distinguish between treaties entered into under the Constitution and those entered under the ”Authority of the United States” which draws a distinction and 2) amendments to the Articles of Confederation required “such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State”; a procedure which was not followed.
A new Constitutional Convention could result in a radically altered or new Constitution. There is no way to limit what will happen in Convention and there is no way to predict the mode of ratification that may arise from a new document. The idea that Congress can be bypassed by a Constitutional Convention is also dubious. Article 1 Section 8 clause 18 of the Constitution empowers Congress”
“To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”
It is reasonable to assume, therefore that Congress will attempt to set the time, location and manner in which a proposed convention would be held. They may also deign to determine the method by which delegates would be appointed, pay for service, and other open-ended issues not specifically outlined within the Constitution. The John Birch Society is correct in its assertions. If you value liberty, you should seek alternative routes to that end. Visit http://jbs.org for their recommended alternatives.
The following youtube video may help you to better understand the issue:
Don’t miss out ! Session 1 starts Saturday, April 26 at Noon.
The Constitution Is The Solution for what ails America. Do you feel a sense that our nation is in trouble? Do you feel, as many of your neighbors feel, our nation is moving in the wrong direction? This series examines the original intent and philosophy of limited government espoused by our founding fathers. It shows how our greatness as a nation is linked to our ability to enforce the Constitution and restrain the powers of government. This is not a trivia course. This course will open the Constitution. We will read from its pages, discuss the letters written by our founders which sought to explain its provisions and discuss how it was originally interpreted and applied. Why seek new innovations if we are yet unfamiliar with the sound principles which were responsible for our rise to greatness as a nation?
This course is divided into 6 parts. We will tackle 2 parts in each session. Topics to be discussed include:
1. The dangers of Democracy: A discussion of the various political systems which magnifies the differences between the raw power of Democracy and a Republic. Why our founders looked with dis-favor on pure democracy and how they sought to check the dangers by implementing the “rule of law” in a Republic that would protect individual rights from the fickle whims of mob rule.
2. Enumerated vs. Unlimited Power: A discussion of the two prevailing philosophical views of the Constitution. Is the Constitution a declaration of specifically limited and enumerated powers or an open-ended system of implied and unlimited powers?
3. Economics: What does the constitution have to say on matters of money? What is a dollar? What are the powers of the federal government with regard to the economy? What about the Federal Reserve? What about paper currency vs. hard money? The founders had plenty to say on these questions.
4. The Constitutional War Powers: How does the Constitution treat war? How and why are the war powers split between the Legislative and Executive branches. Why do we fight so many undeclared wars? What is/was the role of the state militias and how did they provide a check against federal abuse of the war powers?
5. Exposing the Enemies of Freedom: Who is working to subvert our Constitution? What enemies do hard-working, law-abiding Americans have to contend with in order to correct abuses of power and re-establish a working Constitution?
6. Restoring the Constitution: Effective Action in programs such as these help to spread awareness and educate the people. It is said that you must know from whence you came in order to know where you are headed. Where are we headed America? Help us lead our nation towards a rebirth in liberty by peacefully restoring the proper understanding and application of our Constitution. “Let us bind men down from mischief by the chains of a Constitution.” — Thomas Jefferson
Admission is free. A freewill offering is to be collected. Google Map: https://www.google.com/maps/place/67+Buck+Rdfirstname.lastname@example.org,-75.0267703,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c6ad8f69701051:0x2ad217439d1120a
Lecture Series Resource Page: http://federalexpression.wordpress.com/the-constitution-is-the-solution-resources/
The Free Trade Agenda… It’s not about trade and it certainly is not free !!!
If the Free Trade Agenda is not about Trade, then what is it about?
It is all about convincing a slumbering Congress to transfer it’s responsibility “to regulate trade among the states and with foreign nations” to supra-national councils (aka soviets) that are unelected, appointed bureaucrats. Once accomplished, the American people will lose the ability to influence trade policy through their elected officials and become victimized by new, ever-increasing, far-reaching global trade policies and global enforcement agents. Think the regulatory monstrosity is bad now?
This is all unlawful, mind you.
#1. If Congress is to cede power that is explicitly defined in the Constitution, how can it be accomplished by simple legislation? Would that not be considered an alteration of the Constitution and the checks and balances defined within it? Yet we have allowed NAFTA, GATT, the WTO and other similar agreements to be handled in this slick manner. Shame on us! These people should be forced to attempt these schemes through a proper amendment procedure which would be far more difficult if not impossible to accomplish. The supreme court has held as recently as 1998 “the non-delegation doctrine” in Clinton et al v. City of New York. This ruling cited J.W. Hampton Jr. & Co. v. United States (1928), an opinion of at least 80 years duration.
#2. Assuming an amendment were to open the door to this nefarious activity, isn’t a trade agreement involving other foreign powers a Treaty? As such, a simple law is not suffice. This type of agreement would also need to muster two-thirds vote in the Senate as any other treaty requires.
Now it becomes obvious why the President always seeks “Fast Track” or “Trade Promotion Authority” to sneak these agreements through. Under a fast track or TPA method, the Congress is confined to an up or down vote. Debate is limited if allowed at all and no amendments may be offered. Perhaps POTUS knows that even a minor amount of scrutiny will disclose the unlawful nature of the entire process and the treasonous results of the various agreements.
#3. Is “Fast-Track” or “Trade Promotion Authority” constitutional? Not only did the supreme court uphold “the non-delegation doctrine” it also found that “The Line Item Veto”, which was at the heart of this case, violated the “presentment” clauses. Doesn’t “Fast Track” also violate the presentment clauses?
Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the president of the United States… US Constitution – Article 1 Section 7 clause 3
The truth is, there is no legitimate means by which this type of agreement can be ratified. Trade matters belong to the whole Congress. And agreements among nations belong to the Senate & President. The President & the Senate can not do by treaty that which the entire government is denied by the Constitution itself. Treaties must be pursuant to the Authority of the Constitution. The non-delegation doctrine requires a specific amendment to allow the delegation of trade authority from the Congress to another body. The multiplicity of nations involved in trade agreements would require treaty law. Even after these hurdles would be cleared, there is some doubt as to whether or not a treaty can include non-governmental organizations and multiple nation states. The entire “Free Trade Agenda” is highly irregular.
The European Model
A truly fascinating study of the European Union’s 50 year progression into a supra-national entity reveals that a European “Free Trade Agenda” was at the heart of the entire process. Rumor has it, that the TTIP, The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment partnership seeks direct economic ties between the US and the EU. Why tie our anchor to that sinking ship? The answer is… The “Free Trade Agenda” is not about free trade. The free trade agenda is a cornerstone program for the creation of a new world order. The transformation of America is indeed happening; and it is happening all too quickly!
How is it that free trade requires partnerships? The very use of the word partnership should be a telling signal to Americans that this type of legislation is more about building an International Framework for World Government than establishing “Free Trade”. By the way, is there any guarantee that “free” trade is “fair” trade? A whole host of new questions can be raised once that sentiment is considered.
If you would like to investigate these issues in detail and live in the Philadelphia area, a meeting is being held on April 9, 2014. See the flyer below and pass it around. Share it with your friends and family. The future of our economy and our ability to self-govern is at stake.
Education Resources: Extensive Coverage by The New American Magazine
- Trans Atlantic Danger (TNA Article)
- Secretly Trading Away Our Independence (TNA Article)
- United States of Europe (TNA Prediction)
- CFR Applauds “Sovereignty Subversion” (TNA Article)
- Obama et al push EU-US Merger (TNA Article)
- Download Free Magazine Issue (Download File)
- Obama places US-EU Merger on the Front Burner (Video)
- Download Free Trade Booklet (Download)
Action Resources: You Are The Resistance !!!
- NEW: Educational Tools (pamphlets, reprints, etc) at ShopJBS.org
- Free Trade Promises & Reality (download brochure)
- Real Price of Free Trade (download brochure)
- Not-So-Free Trade (download brochure)
- Help Keep America (download brochure)
- Quick Federal Letter – Send a letter Opposing Free Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
- Quick Federal Letter – Send a letter Opposing The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- Quick Federal Letter – Send a letter Opposing Transatlantic Tade & Investment Partnership (TTIP)
- Quick State Letter – Send a letter Opposing Free Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
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Other Locations Too ! See the Tour Map below.
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