• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

My little runaway

Our editorial last night was on the possibility of an Article V constitutional convention, which I've been enthusiastic about for a long time. I've also had a lot of opportunties to write about it since Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long has been in the vanguaurd of the movement. Anytime the subject comes off, we always have to address the fear of a runaway convention:

Our answer to that is that three-fourths of the states have to ratify whatever the convention comes up with, which is a pretty good safeguard guard against the wild and crazy. A more likely danger is that the same partisan gridlock afflicting Congress would afflict the convention. As polarized as we are, it’s hard to see a majority of delegates agreeing on anything.

Just got an email today with a link to another "runaway convention" warning, by Thomas Knapp, director and senior news analysst at the William Lloyd Garrisn Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism Center.

A new constitutional convention is a bad idea for two reasons, both rooted in our history.

The first reason, as outlined above, is that regardless of the reasons for calling such a convention, it would likely end up recommending amendments above and beyond — or contrary to — those its promoters contemplate. It could even go rogue, as Philadelphia’s cabal did.

The second reason is that, just as the existing Constitution  is more honored in the breach than in the observance, any amendments moved by a new convention and ratified by the states would be similarly treated. New government powers created by the new amendments would be vigorously used. New limits on government power so created would simply be ignored.

Those two fears are contradictory -- they cancel each other out. If the amendments will be ignored anyway, who cares how crazy they area? I agree with him that measures limiting government power are more likely to be ignored than ones creating government power, but that doesn't mean not having limits is a good idea. (Two points in my editorial are probably self-canceling as well. If the probablility is that the delegates will deadlock, there won't be any crazt ideas that three-quarters of the states have to approve of).

Finally, I wish all those people who keep talking about the "rogue" constitutional convention would read a little deeper into the history of our founding. Delegates to the convention pretty much knew what the officials who sent them there wanted, which was not to just tinker around the edgest of the Articles of Confederation, and they mostly did they were expected to. If might have seemed "rogue" to the majority of Americans who had not been paying attention, but everything went pretty much as expected by the people there and those who sent them.