By Mark Wachtler
December 7, 2014. Springfield, IL. (ONN) In the final days of Illinois’ Democratic Party super majority, the state legislature quietly passed a Resolution calling for a US Constitutional Convention. The stated intention of the Convention would be to rewrite the US Constitution to ban certain funding of US election campaigns, voiding the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. Once a Constitutional Convention is called to order however, anything can happen. In fact, America has never had one.
This was the scene the last time the US held a Constitutional Convention, courtesy of the painting by Howard Chandler Christy.
History in the making
The last time the United States had a Constitutional Convention was before there was a United States. The last Convention occurred in 1787 and was used to overthrow America, literally. The Convention was called with the specific intention of fixing the Articles of Confederation, the law of the land at the time, before the US Constitution was even written.
And just as modern day experts warn us when they say, “anything can happen at a Constitutional Convention,” the delegates abolished the federal government and took it upon themselves to create their own government. The result was the writing and passage of the US Constitution and the birth of America.
Today’s worried critics of a modern day Convention warn that a similar result could happen. Instead of fixing the Citizens United ruling, delegates may emerge having deleted the Bill of Rights or women’s suffrage or even returning America to slavery. That’s the gamble with a Constitutional Convention, they caution - our country, government and our way of life will be in the hands of a handful of modern day Thomas Jeffersons, James Madisons and Alexander Hamiltons.
Illinois joins call for Constitutional Convention
As detailed by OpenStates.org, the Illinois legislature last week passed SJR 42, a Joint Resolution adding Illinois to the list of states calling for a Constitutional Convention. In the State Senate, the vote was 37 for, 15 against, with 7 not voting. In the State House, the vote was 72 to 40 with 6 not voting. With a couple exceptions, the voting was along Party lines with Democrats supporting the legislation and Republicans opposing it.
Upon examining the full text of the just-passed Illinois Resolution, two things are frighteningly ominous. First, the lawmakers who championed the law, as well as the law itself, are purposely disingenuous and misleading. The second is that the framers of this new would-be American government are already rewriting history to conveniently deny the American people the right to abolish their current government.
The American people have spent the last 227 years basing their entire national existence on the universal right cited by the country’s founders in the Declaration of Independence. The centuries-old “right of the people to alter or to abolish” their government has, under the Illinois Resolution, been replaced by the right to, “make and to alter their Constitutions of government.” Apparently, the establishment’s powerbrokers don’t like the sound of the word ‘abolish’ when referring to themselves.
A run-away Convention
The second problem with the legislation is the Resolution’s insincere requirement that the US Constitutional Convention, once called to order, only address the Citizens United case and the epidemic of financial influence in our country’s election system. But the members of the Illinois Legislature that passed this Resolution know, or at least should know, they don’t have that power or authority. Once a Constitutional Convention is in session, anything can happen, including the overthrow of the government.
One supposes the Illinois Resolution could have required that the state’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention only participate in actions involving campaign finance. But there’s no way to hold them to it. The fact is, once they vote to create a new US Constitution, aka US government, it’s too late to recall them to prevent them from doing it.
A report from the Illinois News Network quotes newly elected US Representative Mike Bost (R-IL) warning of just such a dilemma. “Once you open and you do a Constitutional Convention, it is not going to be, and cannot be, focused just on one issue,” he insisted, “You must then open up, because it’s a Constitutional Convention. You will be dealing with the entire Constitution.”
Status and alternative option
So far, Illinois is only the third state to pass a Resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention, along with California and Vermont. Ten additional states currently have similar legislation pending in their own State Capitols. They include Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas.
"The news shouldn't be left wing or right wing, conservative or liberal. It should be the news. It should be independent" - Mark Wachtler, Illinois Herald owner/editor
Opponents of a Constitutional Convention remind Americans that they can fix the Citizens United Supreme Court decision by having Congress rewrite campaign finance laws rather than risk the Bill of Rights and US Constitution to do the same thing at a Convention. Supporters of the Constitutional Convention, however, argue that Congress is the body financially benefiting from Citizens United and they will never vote to end the ability to sell their votes to the highest bidder, even if those bidders are foreign governments, multinational corporations or even secret unnamed donors. Their argument suggests Americans need a Constitutional Convention to save us from ourselves.
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