April 16, 2014

THEIR VIEW: Constitutional convention won't work today

There seems to be a growing idea that we need a Constitutional convention.

That, of course, is the other way to change the Constitution. Amendments have been used 27 times to make changes, ranging from limiting the president’s term of office to the disastrous prohibition on alcohol.

A convention has never been used — except in 1787 when the Founding Fathers snuck off to Philadelphia with the purpose of correcting problems with the Articles of Confederation, the first documents our country was based on. They corrected the Articles right out the window, and the rest is Constitutional history.

This time around, proponents want a very narrowly defined convention to deal with the government’s budgetary issues — basically balancing the budget.

We are skeptical, at best. As American politics now stand, either nothing would be accomplished and everybody would tuck tail and head for home, or they would throw the Constitutional baby out with the bathwater.

Proponents say the convention would be limited to prevent governmental chaos. Again, skeptical.

First, every interest group would rally their troops and flood the streets. Participants would undoubtedly tweet every jot and title that went on.

Remember, the first convention was pretty secret with no leaks. That allowed what was the cream of the young republic’s intellectual crop to work without distraction.

That would be impossible today.

Sure, let’s limit discussion to the budget. But a good lawyer might argue that could be expanded to economics or commerce in general. That would open up to everything, because everything impacts, and is impacted by, commerce.

Don’t believe us?

Try federal civil rights legislation. Most of it is based on the Commerce Clause in the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.

Or federal gun control. Again, based on the Commerce Clause.

And once a usable document was produced, it would be litigated to death, and all those interest groups would be saying “just one little thing, if you could add it in somewhere.”

Our Constitution has survived more than 200 years. In that time we’ve changed it, and hopefully improved it. Just like we have changed, and hopefully improved.

— Chronicle-Tribune, Marion

THE ISSUE Talk of a Constitutional convention. THEIR VIEW In today's world, it's an idea that just won't work.

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