The Con-Con Con

About 20 states have made a serious error, applying to Congress for a Constitutional Convention to amend for purposes they’ve submitted, including political process reform. Because Conventions can’t vote on ideas submitted to Congress, either these are invalid or they’re read as general Convention requests (the law hasn’t been settled). If thirty-four states apply Congress could call a general Convention, exposing the Constitution to risk. A Convention can redraw the entire Constitution (see Valid Amendment and The Final Extremity). Two of the above states have rescinded their applications. The others should follow their lead.

The Convention method takes all power over the nature of our government and laws away from the people, the legislatures, the courts and the ordinary Article V process and gives it to the delegates. It’s only worth risking when the country is about to collapse, requiring immediate and total overhaul. It would be drastic overkill now. Reform ideas for the political process and the other purposes are being tested at the local and state levels, with more permanent national proposals submitted to or generated in Congress. The best features of all of these have been joined in this amendment.​

We’ve had multiple Constitutional questions in play before without needing a Convention. Between 1909 and 1912 Congress passed two amendments. From 1865 to 1869, three. More often, we found the topics could be addressed by statutes.

In 1787 we called one because danger was imminent. Our allies were close to invading us: the Articles of Confederation made the government too weak to collect taxes to pay our Revolutionary War debt to them (or to raise an army if they did invade). Interstate commerce was collapsing: states were tariffing each other's goods outrageously. They were also overtaxing small businesses and firing on protesters who couldn't pay (often veterans who hadn't been paid). Congress had no power to stop them. The Convention's official stated purpose wasn't "to draft a better Constitution" because if anyone heard we were in such bad shape they'd declare war, but the Confederation was failing.

Article V: "The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, [...]” 

The text and history agree that the two methods are distinct to guard against risking the entire Constitution for one or two potential amendments. This wording restricts a Constitutional Convention to proposing its own amendments, generated in the course of the Convention. A Constitutional Convention can’t propose amendments submitted to Congress. Article V requires that any submissions be made to Congress which, after two thirds have approved, can then propose them to the people.

Bear in mind that a Constitutional Convention to correct the compromising effect of money on our government officers is least promising, and most dangerous, if money has in fact been compromising some of our officers.

If your state has already applied to Congress for a Constitutional Convention, put a referendum on the ballot to withdraw it. If it’s too late to put one on the ballot or your state doesn’t use them, start a petition to withdraw it. If it’s on the ballot as an initiative in your state, get out the vote against it.