Outcome of ‘Con-Con’ Is Impossible to Predict
By James P. Tucker Jr.
Virginia state House Speaker Bill Howell (R) says he plans to ask the state Legislature to join 27 other states in calling for a Federal Constitutional Convention, or “Con-Con.”
Such an event appears to be several years in the future, as it requires 38 state legislatures to force a Con-Con as provided by the U.S. Constitution. But it is wise to become aware of a Con-Con’s great potential and possible hazards. Whatever a Con-Con approves would also have to be approved by 38 states to become a constitutional amendment.
But there is also a distinct possibility that a Con-Con could become a con job and have bad results. Liberty Lobby, the Washington-based populist institution, energetically opposed a Con-Con. All state legislatures, when joining in the call for a Con-Con to amend the national Constitution, include instructions that their representatives support only one issue, which is placed on the agenda.
A balanced budget amendment, which 43 states have in their own constitutions, is the dominant issue should a Con-Con be convened. Obviously, this could be a positive idea for the national government.
But some constitutional scholars claim that a Con-Con cannot be limited and could take various positions on a host of unforeseen issues. It could, they say, vote to drastically alter or eliminate the existing Constitution itself and impose a socialist government, regardless of the original reason the Con-Con was convened. The stakes are especially high in today’s volatile atmosphere.
So, these scholars suggest, before electing someone to represent your state at a Con-Con, require your delegate to swear under oath that he or she will take the position mandated by the state legislature and vote only on the sole issue at hand—while abstaining on any others that emerge. Put him or her at risk of criminal perjury. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the court’s four “strict constructionists” regarding the Constitution, suggested in a speech at the University of Richmond (Va.) on Nov. 19 that a Con-Con could be a means of restoring the Constitution as written by the nation’s founders. He cited Supreme Court rulings against the death penalty.
When the Eighth Amendment was written, Scalia said, the founders could not possibly have believed capital punishment to be “cruel and unusual punishment,” because horse thieves were commonly hanged.
Also, the constitutional process for confirming a new Supreme Court justice has turned into a “mini constitutional convention” as nominees are tested on how they would interpret—or effectively rewrite—the Constitution, Scalia opined.
“Scalia is exactly right,” state Rep. Howell said. “If society has changed, the legislature can change that, as the framers certainly did provide a way of amending the Constitution.”
AFP editor James P. Tucker Jr. is a veteran journalist who spent many years as a member of the “elite” media in Washington. Since 1975 he has won widespread recognition, here and abroad, for his pursuit of on-the-scene stories reporting the intrigues of global power blocs such as the Bilderberg Group. Tucker is the author of Jim Tucker’s Bilderberg Diary: One Man’s 25-Year Battle to Shine the Light on the World Shadow Government. Bound in an attractive full-color softcover and containing 272 pages—loaded with photos, many never published before—the book recounts Tucker’s experiences over the last quarter century at Bilderberg meetings. $25 from AFP. No charge for S&H in U.S.
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(Issue # 51, December 20, 2010)