The legislative session at the state capitol in Oklahoma City begins today, February 3, 2014. An issue that many activists are working toward is to stop the call for an Article V Convention. Article V of the United States Constitution states that two-thirds of the state legislatures can call a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Oklahoma state legislators will soon be voting on resolutions calling for it. A rally to oppose a constitutional convention will be held tomorrow morning, February 4, at 8:00 AM at the State Capitol in Governor’s Hall.
Proponents of an Article V Convention are attempting to limit the topics brought up at the Article V Convention to the single topic of adding a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Section X-23 of the Oklahoma Constitution says that the state government is required to have a balanced budget and yet the state has billions of dollars in debt. This was challenged in court and you know what happened? The Oklahoma Supreme Court essentially redefined the word "debt." The U.S. Supreme Court might do the same thing. Other groups have ideas for amending the Constitution as well (i.e. http://www.wolf-pac.com/the_plan)
The proponents of an Article V Convention say that the Constitutional requirement that three-fourths of the 50 states are needed to ratify any proposed amendments is reliable. However, the delegates could simply change the ratification process. They just might say that the approval of only 26 states is needed or that a simple vote of Congress will do. At the last such convention in 1787 all 13 states were required to make any changes to our nation's "first" Constitution (Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation) and yet the delegates decided that they did not like this so they lowered the bar to only 9 of the 13 states being needed (Article VII of the U.S. Constitution).
Once a convention is called the outcome is not certain. Once an Article V Convention is convened and amendments are drafted, the delegates may try to figure out some way to try and trick the states into accepting it. Some of the 1787 Convention delegates did not want to give the people of the 13 states enough time to thoroughly read and consider the new Constitution. They figured people would like it most at first but eventually reject it so they wanted to surprise everyone with it and get a quick vote. Some of the minutes as recorded in the journal kept at this convention know as the "Records of the Federal Convention" state:
Mr. Govr. Morris & Mr. Pinkney then moved to amend the art: so as to read
"This Constitution shall be laid before the U.S. in Congress assembled; and it is the opinion of this Convention that it should afterwards be submitted to a Convention chosen in each State, in order to receive the ratification of such Convention: to which end the several Legislatures ought to provide for the calling Conventions within their respective States as speedily as circumstances will permit". - Mr. Govr. Morris said that his object was to impress on stronger terms the necessity of calling Conventions in order to prevent enemies to the plan, from giving it the go by. When it first appears, with the sanction of the Convention, the people will be favorable to it. By degrees the State officers, & those interested in the State govts will intrigue & turn the popular current against it.
Mr. L-Martin believed Mr. Morris to be right, that after a while the people will be agst. it but for a different reason from that alleged. He believe they would not ratify it unless hurried into it by surprise.
The delegates to the 1787 Convention also reasoned that not all the states would like this new constitution so in order to get them to join they had to put them between a rock and a hard place. Their plan was to form a new nation out of the first 9 states that ratified the new Constitution thus dissolving the original nation they had already formed. This may be a bit detailed to follow, but it is worth it to understand the kind of games that could be played even today should such a convention be held. On July 4th, 1776 (Independence Day) what actually occurred were 13 independent sovereign nations declared their independence from the King at the same time. Shortly thereafter they ratified the Articles of Confederation and became a single nation. When the current Constitution was ratified by the first 9 states those 9 states became a new nation. The remaining four states who had yet to ratify the constitution reverted back to being their own independent nation. At that moment the 13 states actually became 5 nations. One by one the remaining states joined the new nation. Finally, Rhode Island which had originally rejected the new Constitution had no choice but to join the new nation by ratifying the new Constitution or face King George alone. The delegates to the 1787 Convention discussed this issue and recorded it in the convention minutes. Remarks by Mr. Wilson who was a delegate from Pennsylvania state:
"It is possible that not all the states, nay, that not even a majority, will immediately come into the measure, but such as do ratify it will be immediately bound by it, and others as they may from time to time accede to it."
Keeping with the spirit of what Mr. Wilson said the first 9 states ratified the new Constitution. The remaining 4 just acceded to it.
When all the big government power brokers from the big states get their way and propose a slate of amendments, opponents to the convention do not believe that Oklahoma will be given an opportunity to ratify the new amendments but will be voting to accede to them.
Tuesday, Feb 4th, 8am
State Capitol Building
Governor's Hall (SW corner on the Second Floor)
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK
Visitor parking is located to the south of the building.