CHARTER CHANGE IN THE US
by Erick San Juan
Filipinos do not seem to own the monopoly of resistance to any attempt at amending their fundamental law. Even the Americans do. They - the political activists, at least - are generally furious about the idea of mangling their charter. In fact, it is a big deal for them, because they have not had this since 1787.
Just like in the Philippines, the Americans are upset about the talks to introduce innovation into their charter, to accommodate provisions that could formalize their status – or reputation – of being the world’s policeman endowed with an air of braggadocio being the biggest superpower.
Even the American Policy Center (APC) had to apologize profusely because it got caught with its pants down. It claims that “this malignancy most foul remained undetected by our radars until a good friend brought it to our attention” only last Wednesday. This triggered swift action!!!
A “snow-balling effect” is what they fear most.
One of the most important action alerts ever issued by the APC is one entitled: “Extremely urgent: US only two States Away from Constitutional Convention. Whether true or not, many of them fear that if the proposition for a Cha-Cha gets approved by the Ohio legislature, it would need only another State to pass a similar action and similar actions are expected to come after another. This could induce the US Congress to have no choice but to call for a convention, thus throwing their Charter up for grabs. To them, the threat posed by the vote in Ohio is grave enough to merit a call for immediate action – to call their respective congressmen.
To the APC, It does not matter where you live. Ohio's vote today endangers everyone in every state in the Union, so we must pressure Ohio lawmakers to discard this disastrous legislative effort thirty-two (32) other states have already called for a Con Con (allegedly to add a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution). 34 states are all that is required, and then Congress MUST call for Convention.
Similar to the Philippines , the U.S. Constitution places no restriction on the purposes for which the states can call for a Convention. If Ohio votes to call a Con Con, for whatever purpose, “the United States will be only one state away from total destruction.” And it's a safe bet that those who hate America and all that she stands for, are merely waiting to pounce upon this chance to re-write the US charter.
Certainly all loyal Americans want government to have a balanced budget. But they believe that calling a Con Con is taking risks about facing some revolutionary changes in their form of government. They are almost sure that its ultimate outcome will likely be a new constitution; one that would possibly eliminate the restriction to the coinage of real money or even eliminate gun or property rights. “So what may look like a good idea to the legislators driving this effort - all Republicans - will certainly make them prey to the law of unintended consequences - at the very least insuring the U.S. will never have a balanced budget - while destroying what vestiges of liberty the government still allows?”
While it may be true that some of those 32 states have voted to rescind their calls but under Article V of the US Constitution, “Congress must call a Constitutional Convention whenever 2/3 (or 34) of the states apply.”
The US Charter has no provision on a state of rescission. Advocates of the convention are said to be waiting to capture just two more states - Ohio , and one other. Then, they may start challenging the other states' rescissions in the courts “while going ahead with the Convention.” Given this, Congress alone then decides whether state legislatures or state conventions ratify proposed amendments.
Certainly, like in the Philippines , the individual States in the USA can control the subject of any convention. Truth to tell, no restrictive language can limit the scope or outcome of a ConCon! Once a Convention is called, Congress’s role is only to determine how the delegates are chosen. Once chosen, those delegates acquire more powers than do Congress itself!
The Convention of 1787 was called to introduce minor revisions in the Articles of Confederation. That was the only ConCon Americans can remember. In fact, several states first passed resolutions requiring their delegates to discuss only, amendments to the Charter, forbidding even discussion of foundational changes.
After the delegates' first agreement that their meetings be in secret however, their second act was to agree to debate those state restrictions and to nullify the Articles of Confederation. They also changed the ratification process, reducing the required states' approval from 100% to 75%. We can’t see enough reason to believe that a contemporary Con Con wouldn't tamper with Article V restrictions to suit its purpose.
Quoting a letter former Chief Justice Warren Burger sent to Phyllis Schlafly, President of Eagle Forum he said that there is no sure-fire way to limit or, muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The convention, a sovereign body, has its own agenda. Congress may pass a law limiting to just one the articles to be amended, but the Convention can vote later to do as it pleases. It would be too late to stop the convention from doing what it likes.
Americans were blessed that the delegates to the1787 Con Con were the leaders of a freedom movement that had just cleansed the US of tyranny. Today's corrupt politicians and judges would like nothing better than the ability to legally ignore the Constitution - to modify its "problematic" provisions to reflect the philosophical and socials mores of our contemporary society.
It would be such a crazy scheme to amend the US Charter at this time, because the US has just voted a dedicated progressive as its President and that the Republicans are seen at its weakest right now.
Whether in the US or the Philippines, if a ConCon is done now, can anybody guaranty that the debates can be controlled and that civil liberties will not be revised into a government-controlled privileges; replace the policy of collective right to self defense; abolish the Bill of Rights; include the non-existent principle of Separation of the Church and the State; population control, abortion and euthanasia and other issues.
Peoples’ unique concept of individual rights, endowed by God, would be quickly banish as an anachronistic relic of the past; replaced by new "collective" rights, awarded and enforced by government for the "common good". The problems our nation faces are not a result of deficiencies in our Constitution; rather, they are the direct result of our disregard for that Bill of Rights.
There is no challenge faced by this nation that cannot be solved by enforcing existing law.
With a Charter patterned after the US , we can safely say that mango trees never yield tomatoes! Think it over.