Strike Two For Gov. Abbott

Going from the office as one of the best Texas Attorneys General ever to Governor, Governor Abbott has brought at least two big legislative disappointments. The first shocking disappointment was his push for the Pre-K4 program.

What could he have been thinking to want pre-kindergarten children to be placed into a broken public school system to be indoctrinated in a secular, anti-American agenda that has been in our public schools for several decades and growing worse with each passing year? That action should be defunded and repealed. More on that another time.

Now Gov. Abbott has joined the call for an Article V Convention of the States (COS), which far too many frustrated and misguided ‘conservatives’ have followed the lead of Mark Levin, author of ‘The Liberty Amendments.’

We all know our country is in a big mess with an out-of-control government, and we would like to do something about it, but let’s not put our original Constitution at risk with an amending Convention of the States.

Why has this runaway government happened? It is the lack of enforcement of the limited governmental powers set forth in the Constitution. Supporters of the COS have stated that Congress will never change.

If Congress will never change, why should we believe that adding new amendments to the Constitution, to be unenforced, would change anything? Besides a Congress which will not enforce the Constitution, let’s look at the three-fold problem that new Amendments will not touch:

  1. Administrative law with all the unelected alphabet bureaucrats imposing punitive regulations on our public and private liberty—the EPA, IRS, ATF, FCC, Department of Education, et al;
  2. A President who ignores the Constitution and Congress and does not respect the Rule of Law; and,
  3. A liberal Judiciary which makes law rather than correctly interpreting the law as intended.

The late Justice of the Supreme Court, Arthur Goldberg, stated that one of the most serious problems Article V poses is a runaway convention. There is no enforceable mechanism to prevent a convention from reporting out wholesale changes to our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Moreover the absence of any mechanism to insure representative selection of delegates could put a runaway convention in the hands of single-issue groups whose self-interests may be contrary to our national well-being.

On April 17, 2014 Former Justice Antonin Scalia opposed a constitutional amendment to modify the Second Amendment as suggested by Justice John Paul Stevens. The question was, “If you could amend the Constitution in one way, what would it be, and why?” Scalia, replied, “I certainly would not want a Constitutional Convention. I mean whoa! Who knows what would come out of that?”

An Article V Convention would open up our Constitution to the elimination of our protections under the Bill of Rights—the First Amendment: freedom of worship and speech, the Second Amendment: our right to keep and bear arms, which is already under attack, and to the elimination of the Electoral College.

In regard to the Supreme Court, Michael Farris, leader in the Convention of States Project, testified before the Texas House Committee in favor of a Convention of the States. He did not share with the committee his proposal that the Supreme Court should be replaced by a system of “50 justices and have the states appoint the justices for a specific term (six or eight years) with no right of reappointment” that is modelled after the European Court of Human Rights.

Also, beware of the several hundred progressive left-wing organizations pushing for an Article V Convention. Among them are:

In "Let’s Give Up on the Constitution," published in The New York Times, liberal COS supporter Prof. Louis Michael Seidman states:

“As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.”  

Richard Epstein writes for the Hoover Institution about Prof. Sanford Levinson's "Our Imbecilic Constitution" saying,

His argument rests on his distaste for two principles that create gridlock: separation of powers and checks and balances. He writes—“The many obstacles toward legislation, in his view, make it well-nigh impossible to form a coherent national policy.

To find a cure, Levinson argues “it is important to take a page from the progressive policies of Woodrow Wilson.”

Convention of the States supporters are asking for a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). We all want balanced budgets, but a BBA would do nothing to reduce out-of-control spending. Under a BBA the Supreme Court would decide any congressional budget dispute which would violate the separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. Another bad idea.

And finally, how would amendments be ratified? Article V tells us that "ratification may take place by Legislatures of ¾ of the several states, or by Conventions in ¾ thereof as one or other Mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress."

Do we want Congress to decide that ratification may take place by a Convention rather than the state legislatures? Heaven forbid!

The proposed amendments would be given seven years to ratify. Fighting for or against the proposed amendments would be time-consuming and expensive, especially with a liberal media supporting liberal amendments and opposing conservative amendments in the various states.

A better solution is to work to elect constitutional conservatives and urge them to abolish the bureaucratic regulatory agencies, curb federal spending, and to support a Flat Tax. Throw out of office those who do not follow the Constitution.

The Republican Party of Texas Convention should remove from the 2014 Platform the support for a Convention of the States and keep the 2010 resolution opposing a Convention of the States in light of all these unknowns. Let us not blindly, but hopefully, call for a Convention of the States to later learn we made a big mistake. Once Pandora’s box has been opened, it will be too late to reconsider.

Urge Governor Abbott to rescind his call for a Convention of the States, and urge Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, your State Representative and Senator to vote no on all attempts to call for a Convention of the States for any reason whatsoever.

Shirley Spellerberg was a member of RPT Platform Committee 1998-2006, 2010.

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