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Pulling the Constitution's Emergency Cord

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The following excerpt is from an op-ed written by Mark Alspaugh, the Arkansas State Director for the Convention of States Project. Click here to read the entirety of this fantastic article.

Article V of the Constitution provides a state-led way for “we the people,” working through our state legislatures, to propose amendments to the Constitution that can stop its systematic dismantling.

It provides that “The Congress ... on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments. ...” It is a constitutional “emergency cord provision” rapidly gaining momentum nationwide.

Unfortunately, polemics previously published here advance a cacophony of baseless and misleading arguments opposing an Article V convention. This commentary stands on the Jeffersonian principle that an enlightened citizenry is indispensable for proper functioning of our republic. Unlike arguments that rely on the tyranny of so-called expert opinion offered without rational proof, these arguments can be fact- checked.

Opponents label an Article V convention as a “constitutional convention.” While the label may contain a grain of truth, without clarification it is woefully, perhaps dangerously, inaccurate.

Numerous baseless beliefs and fear-mongering hobgoblins flow from such inaccuracy.

Political scientists describe three types of “constitutional conventions.” A “general constitutional convention” is one called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to replace an existing constitution. An “unlimited constitutional convention” is one called to revise an existing constitution to the extent necessary. Finally, a “limited constitutional convention” is one restricted to amending a current constitution within the scope of the convention’s call, the mandate establishing the convention.

Using the phrase “constitutional convention,” without necessary clarification, leads many to visualize a 1787-like “general constitutional convention” where everything is on the table, rather than the type actually mandated by the Constitution, a convention of the third kind.

Read the rest of the article here.