The Convention of the States (COS) has been gaining steam for more than seven years. Sixteen states have now signed on. The pitch is simple. The federal government has been way out of its lane for a long time. Congress won’t do anything about it. The states need to call a convention to propose and then pass predetermined common-sense ideas. What could be wrong with that?
You might think that the people would choose a national convention of roughly the same sort of people who are elected to Congress. You would be right. But most proponents are not aware of the secret sauce that makes COS work. It is in the footnotes — not completely hidden — but not for general public consumption. At least not yet. What is it?
Conventioneers think that they can have a convention where each state gets one vote. California may send 100 delegates and Wyoming may send two. But each state casts only one vote. North Carolina could send 25 delegates and Delaware three, but North Carolina and Delaware each cast one vote. Texas and North Dakota each cast one vote at this convention.
Would you attend a convention if your voice and that of your state was made of little account in this way?
The scheme is to combine 38 states that are not governed by coastal elites, and which collectively are a minority of the population, in order to coerce the big liberal states into an amended constitution they have not agreed to.
The U.S. Constitution created a Senate that has one chamber with equal representation of states. Very little can happen by the Senate without the agreement of either the House of Representatives, whose members are apportioned on the basis of population, and/or action by the president. The president is chosen by the Electoral College, which is mostly based on population.
Would any one think this “one vote per state” system at the COS is fair? Would citizens of California and New York put up with this? The U.S. Supreme Court decided decades ago that representation in the House had to be one person — one vote. Does any one think the courts will have difficulty stopping this “one state one vote” dynamic?
This system is specifically provided for in the event the Electoral College fails to elect a president by a majority. But this system is conspicuously absent from the constitutional provision on amending itself. Were the founding fathers and mothers just forgetful of the failures under the Articles of Confederation? I don’t think so.
Going back to convention rules used under the Articles of Confederation is not going to fly in the courts. It is not going to fly among fair-minded people. It is doomed to fail. Decades of hard work by good people will be wasted because they were misled by the sponsors of this effort.
The Author served 16 years in the NC General Assembly, the last 10 as Republican Leader and the Speaker Pro Tem. For more information see www.paulstam.info