by: Teri M. Owens
In this information age it is easy to be fooled by misleading claims even when they appear to be accompanied by a reliable source. We have to maintain a dedication to scholarship in the freedom fight – especially in matters involving the Constitution. Before relying upon information to make a critical decision it is necessary to examine the source documents to verify the truth.
Applying this commitment to claims made by aggressively pro con-con group, Friends of the Article V Convention (FOAVC), it is revealed that this organization is either uneducated on the issues or they are engaging in outright deception.
What do the Source Documents Reveal?
The following statement is from their website:
“…please see the following 7 Congressional Records that clearly demonstrates that the prerequisite number of states (i.e. two thirds) have already requested an Article V Convention, and Congress on 4 (or more) occasions (over the past 101 years) has ignored their peremptory duty to call an Article V Convention.”
The referenced 7 Congressional Records contain the resolutions of 8 states between 1907 and 1910, which made application for an Article V convention to propose an amendment providing for the direct election of U.S. Senators. The text of each application is identical:
“The House of Representatives of the United States has on four separate occasions passed by a two thirds vote, a resolution proposing an amendment to the constitution providing for the election of United States Senators by direct vote of the people;
And whereas the United States Senate has each time refused to consider or vote upon said resolution thereby denying to the people of the Several States a chance to secure this much desired change in the method of electing Senators…”
From the text of the Congressional Records, it is clear that it was two thirds of the House of Representatives that had passed a resolution for the desired Constitutional Amendment four times. Two thirds of the states did not apply for a con-con four times as they assert. If you don’t have a good grasp on Article V, it is easy to be fooled by this.
The Ultimate Power of Ratification
Recently the FOAVC made rebuttal videos to the first and second part of the JBS video Beware of Article V. Beware of Article V is a comprehensive review of the plain language of Article V, the historical precedent from our nation’s only experience with a federal Constitutional Convention, and the opinion of legal jurists and Constitutional scholars about the danger of using this method for proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In less than one month since Ohio’s con-con resolution was introduced last Assembly, views of this video skyrocketed to more than 6,0000.
In an attempt to discredit the JBS video, FOACV co-founder, Bill Walker asserts that state legislatures “have the ultimate power of ratification,” despite the fact that the plain language of Article V grants the power to determine the method of ratification to Congress. Hawke v. Smith, 253 U.S. 221 (1920), the Supreme Court case that he points out in his rebuttal video says:
“The Fifth Article is a grant of authority by the people to Congress. The determination of the method of ratification is the exercise of a national power specifically granted by the Constitution; that power is conferred upon Congress, and is limited to two methods, by action of the legislatures of three-fourths of the states, or conventions in a like number of states.”
Also ignored by Bill Walker is the fact that the 1787 Constitutional Convention emerged with a new constitution which contained the ratification method within itself (Article VII). And that ratification method called for 9 of 13 states to ratify in conventions of the people, rather than unanimous consent of the state legislature under Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation.
The JBS video explains that due to the vague language of Article V, Congress would likely determine the method for selecting delegates to the con-con. FOAVC points again to Hawke v. Smith to assert that said Supreme Court case “ruled that conventions must be made up of ‘deliberate assemblages representative of the people.’” Unfortunately, Hawke v. Smith, in using that phrase, was referring to “ratifying conventions,” not constitutional conventions.
Noise and Confusion
Likewise, in the second rebuttal video, FOAVC claims that a Justice Warren Burger letter written to Phyllis Shlafly, referenced in the second part of the Beware Article V video is a fake. His proof? A posted copy on an unrelated website called sweetliberty.org that has the date as 1983, rather than 1988 which is the actual date of the letter posted on Phyllis Schlafly’s own Eagle Forum website.
He spends the rest of his rebuttal video trying to prove the letter is a fake based on the errant 1983 date. He plays on this error to wrongly accuse the JBS as well as Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center of knowingly touting a fraudulent letter.
Finally, in their zeal to make the number of historic con-con calls seem abnormally large, FOAVC consistently counts each state application, when read in both the Senate and House, as two completely different applications. Either Friends of an Article V Convention is woefully uneducated or openly engaging in outright deception, coupled with noise and confusion to keep legislators from their duty to consider a con-con with the appropriate awareness and deliberation.
Regardless, from a close inspection of the source documents cited, it is clear that this organization cannot be trusted.