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What is the convention of states?

by Minden Press-Herald

Caleb Daniel
Special to the Minden Press-Herald

Many Americans hold the opinion that the federal government has grown larger in scope than is healthy and that the powers delineated to the government in the Constitution have been twisted. For those who hold this belief, last week’s speaker at the Minden Lions Club and Lunch Bunch presented a solution: an Article V Convention of States.

Doyle Chambers, a retired Benton resident, is a volunteer with Convention of States, a grassroots movement seeking constitutional amendments through a governmental process of the same name.

A project of the Houston-based Citizens for Self Governance organization, Convention of States ultimately seeks to impose limits on the federal government through constitutional amendments via a convention called for by two thirds of the state legislatures, as outlined in Article V of the United States Constitution.

Chambers presented to the Lions Club Thursday and the Lunch Bunch Friday. He said America needs Article V because the constitutional structure has broken down over time.

“Our Congress has delegated its Article I powers to administrative agencies, who are unelected and unaccountable to the people,” he said. “Bureaucrats hold the real power, exercising all three branches of government… The Supreme Court has become a recurring Constitutional Convention: instead of interpreting the law, they create new laws. The Supreme Court has created a separate, 3,000-page Constitution.”

The Constitution outlines two methods to propose amendments. The first is through a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress. The second is by a Convention of States called at the request of two thirds of the state legislatures. Once a convention is held, amendments must be ratified by three quarters of the participating states, who each receive one vote regardless of population size.

“Which method do you think would work today?” Chambers said. “Do you think Congress will control itself? I find that hard to believe.”

A Convention of States could not propose any amendment on any topic it wants, however. It could only address topics prescribed in the resolutions passed by the states who called for the convention. In this case, proposed amendments would have to do one of the following: “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and enact term limits on federal officials and members of Congress.”

Chambers said the “federal officials” on which the movement is seeking to apply term limits include Supreme Court Justices, who have had unlimited terms since the founding days of the country.

Thus far, twelve states have passed resolutions to call for this Convention of States, including Louisiana. To become a reality, that number must rise to 34 states. Louisiana Senator Ryan Gatti, who attended the Lunch Bunch Friday, said he voted for the resolution and voiced his support for the goals and ideals Chambers presented.

Chambers urged anyone who is interested in learning more about the Convention of States to visit cosaction.com, read about the movement, and sign the petition.

“Those who fought the Revolutionary War had an ideal of self-governance, self-determination, and liberty, and I believe this ideal still exists in the hearts of every patriotic American today,” Chambers said. “The media, our education institutions, and the government will tell us that more government is the solution. For those who believe like we do, Article V and the Convention of States is the real solution.”

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