Carolina Journal Radio

Convention of States idea attracts high-profile support

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From Carolina Journal Radio Program No. 738: Some North Carolina lawmakers have shown interest in having this state join 12 others in supporting a Convention of States. That’s an option provided in Article V of the U.S. Constitution for states to initiate constitutional amendments. During a recent visit to Raleigh, former Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma explained his support for the convention. He also addressed concerns from critics who fear a convention could lead to unanticipated negative results.

  • QuitBS

    Unless the office holding lawmakers are PROHIBITED from participation, this will be more cronyism, corruption, and citizen-last governance. Only if the States Convention is run by citizens will it be worthwhile. Tom Coburn is Part of the problem in Governance today!

    • Then stand up and be a part of this and make your opinions known. The legislators must follow the rules set by the convention. This means that each member of the convention is recallable by the state legislatures. They are also under instructions from the state legislature. This is a convention for the purpose of amendment X and not for the purpose of amendment Y, and if you start talking about amendment Y we will call you home.
      If by some miraculous event the convention came up with an amendment not authorized, then Congress would have the right and duty to refuse to specify a vote of ratification.
      Congress is an institutional rival of the convention and will have every motive to rein in the convention if it acts in any way which is impermissible. Tom Coburn walked away. He knows that Congress is a huge part of what is wrong.

      • QuitBS

        My opinions are known. The Convention of States is a False Hope!
        “…must follow the rules…” You mean like following the Presidential Executive orders of Pres. Trump? Or do you mean obeying the Immigration Laws or Law Enforcement refusing to hold violent criminals for ICE pickup? Or do you mean elected officials establishing sanctuary cities to protect Unlawful Illegal Aliens and criminals? Since ALL my examples are committed by Government Officials, why do you foolishly believe the same Government Officials will SUDDENLY follow the rules???
        There is NO Accountability in Government today and thinking otherwise is stupid!

    • No. He got out. He is a part of the solution. Just as you are. And me. The legislators (commissioners) are under instructions from the legislatures. They cannot go beyond that. Congress can take any amendment that is outside the limits to the Supreme Court under Article V disputes.

      • QuitBS

        Your faith in the legislators is endearing, even if misplaced and foolish!

        • MY faith is in the Constitution. Why don’t you head over to the National Archives and read the first commissions of those first seven states back in 1787? The first seven states to call the convention said the commissioners have all necessary authority to render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of the union. The word Constitution (I’m sure you know) then did not mean a document because there was no Constitution. It meant the form of government. So, they had full authority without limitation to fix the government. Later, after they seven states had called the convention Congress weighed in, and they issued a recommendation. They had no authority under the Articles of Confederation to call a convention, no authority to tell the states to do anything to amend. They said we agree. You should do this. You should amend the Articles of Confederation, so folks thought wrongly that Congress had called the convention. It did not, and they thought Congress had put some sort of limitation on the delegates. It did not. Our Founders put a high price on honor. They would not have gone to Philadelphia and do whatever they wanted. They followed what they were told to do. And these commissioners will also because they must.

          • QuitBS

            I guess you don’t realize, honesty is dead! 99.9% of legislators are dishonest, or their motivations are NOT to serve the People. You hold misguided and outdated notions about public service. President Obama lied to America for eight years and the Media was his willing accomplice. Now, the Media is unable to accept the results of our elections. Who do you think is going to “Umpire” the sides in this political dogfight? Relying on personal integrity of governing bodies is like relying on a child molester to run nurturing child daycare center. States Convention relies on the honesty of a corrupt body of legislators. I don’t believe in fairy tales.

          • That’s just it. I am not relying on them. I am relying on the Constitution. And Bet Jones is as honest as they come. He and Dennis Riddell. My Rep David Rogers. There are some. And they have to follow the rules. The convention’s scope is limited to the application. Any action beyond that scope is void. Any amendments considered must be approved by a majority of the states represented. Delegates are controlled by their state legislatures. Amendments proposed must be ratified by 38 states to be valid; 13 states can defeat any amendment.
            Article V
            The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress;…

            And remember. The States have to ratify any amendment Congress proposes. So why not give this a try. What do you have to lose? Congress is corrupt.

          • No. You don’t see the big picture. It isn’t about legislators, motivations, media, obama, or anything else you have brought up. It is about the Constitution. The Congress and state legislators are following the wrong Constitution. And they have to go along with the Founders Constitution. They wanted us to have an escape route. So they gave is the second part of Article V. And we know they wanted us to have power because we know their thoughts. We know the Founders thoughts by reading the Federalist Papers. And btw, the rules are below.

            Convention for Proposing Amendments — Proposed Rules (1)

            Rule 1. Questions not governed by these rules shall be governed by the latest published edition of Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure, except where the rule in that manual can be applied only to a state legislature rather than a convention; in which case the matter shall be determined by parliamentary common law. (2)

            Rule 2. Officers

            (a) The officers of the convention shall consist of a president and vice president, who shall be elected from among the commissioners; and the following, who shall be elected from among persons not commissioners: secretary, sergeant-at-arms, parliamentarian, and assistant parliamentarian. (3) All officers shall be on oath to carry out their duties faithfully and in accordance with lawful authority.

            (b) The temporary convention president shall be appointed from among the commissioners from the state that was the first to enact the application that led to the calling of this convention. The temporary president shall be selected by a majority vote of that state’s delegation. The temporary president’s sole duty shall be to preside over the election of the convention president and he or she shall be ineligible to be the permanent president.

            Rule 3. The sergeant-at-arms is empowered, under direction of the president, to secure the good order of the house. Orders issued by the president to the sergeant-of-arms shall be appealable, as in the case of other rulings of the chair. (4)

            Rule 4. The members of this convention are the committees (delegations) appointed by their respective states. (5) All votes shall be taken by states, with each state having one vote. (6) In roll call votes, states shall declare their votes in alphabetical order. (7)

            Rule 5. Irrespective of how many commissioners a state includes within its delegation, no more than five commissioners from any one state shall be on the floor at the same time. (8) On every vote, the state’s vote shall be announced by the chair of the state delegation or his or her designee. Every delegation shall canvass each commissioner on each vote in a manner to be prescribed by the commissioning state or, in default of a prescribed manner, by the delegation. Each state delegation’s vote shall be determined in accordance with the rule prescribed by the commissioning state.

            Rule 6. A quorum to do business shall consist of the commissioners empowered to cast the votes of not less than 26 member states; and all questions shall be decided by the greater number of those which be fully represented; but a lower number than 26 may adjourn from day to day. (9)

            Rule 7. The order of business shall be as follows: (10)

            (1) call to order,

            (2) roll call,

            (3) invocation,

            (4) pledge of allegiance,

            (5) reading and approval by the clerk of the minutes of the previous day,

            (6) reports of standing committees,

            (7) reports of special or select committees,

            (8) special orders,

            (9) unfinished business,

            (10) introduction and first reading of proposals,

            (11) consideration of daily calendar,

            (12) announcement of committee meetings, and

            (13) recess for the day (adjournment). (11)

            Rule 8. Every commissioner, rising to speak, shall address the president; and while he or she shall be speaking no one shall pass between them or read any written matter not immediately germane to the question under consideration. (12)

            Rule 9. Of two commissioners rising to speak at the same time, the president shall name the one who shall first be heard. (13)

            Rule 10. A commissioner shall not speak more often than twice, without special leave upon the same question; and not a second time before every other who had been silent but shall choose to speak on the subject shall have been heard. [The commissioners from any one state committee shall not speak more often than ten times without special leave upon the same question; and not more than five times before every other who had been silent but shall choose to speak on the subject shall have been heard.] (14)

            Rule 11. No commissioner shall, without leave of the convention, speak more than 10 minutes at any one time. (15)

            Rule 12. A motion made and seconded, shall be repeated; and if written, as it shall be when any member shall so require, shall be read aloud by the secretary or transmitted to each commissioner’s pre-designated electronic device before it shall be debated. (16) No motion, other than a procedural motion, shall be in order unless germane to both the subject matter specified in the state applications on which Congress called the convention and to the subject matter specified in the convention call. (17)

            Rule 13. A motion may be withdrawn at any time before the vote upon it shall have been declared. (18)

            Rule 14. When a debate shall arise upon a question, no motion, other than to amend the question, to commit it, or to postpone the debate, shall be received. (19)

            Rule 15. A question that consists of one or more propositions shall, at the request of any commissioner, be divided and put separately as to each proposition. (20)

            Rule 16. No substantive question or committee recommendation shall be decided the day on which it is introduced or first debated, if any five states request that the decision be postponed to another day. (21)

            Rule 17. A motion to reconsider a matter that has been determined by a majority may be made, with leave unanimously given, on the same day on which the vote passed; but otherwise not without one day’s previous notice; in which last case, if the convention agree to the reconsideration, the convention or, by the convention’s leave, the president shall assign a future day for the purpose. (22)

            Rule 18. A commissioner may be called to order by another commissioner, as well as by the president, and may be allowed to explain his or her conduct or any expressions supposed to be reprehensible. (23)

            Rule 19. All questions of order shall be decided by the president, subject to appeal to the convention, but without debate. (24)

            Rule 20. Upon a question to recess for the day, (25) which may be made at any time, if it be seconded, the question shall be put without debate. (26)

            [Rule 21. When the convention shall recess, every commissioner shall stand in his or her place until the president pass.] (27)

            Rule 22. No commissioner shall be absent from the convention, so as to interrupt the representation of his or her state, without leave. (28)

            Rule 23. Committees—generally applicable provisions

            (1) The standing committees shall include rules, credentials, administration, fiscal restraints, federal jurisdiction, and term limits. (29) The convention may create ad hoc committees.

            (2) The membership of the rules, credentials, and administration committees shall be elected by a plurality vote of the states, voting by secret ballot. The membership of ad hoc committees shall be appointed by the president, unless the convention shall prescribe another method. (30) The membership of the fiscal restraints, federal jurisdiction, and term limits committees shall be selected by the method designated in Rule 24.

            (3) Each committee may by majority vote create subcommittees for issues germane to the committee’s assigned task.

            (4) Committees and subcommittees shall not sit while the convention shall be or ought to be sitting, without leave of the convention. (31)

            Rule 24. Fiscal restraints, federal jurisdiction, and term limits committees. (32)

            (1) The fiscal restraints committee, federal jurisdiction committee, and term limits committee each has [exclusive] (33) responsibility for developing proposals within the corresponding subject matter of the state applications for the convention.

            (2) Each of these three committees shall consist of one member from each state delegation, selected as determined by such delegation; provided however, that no person shall serve on more than one of those three committees.

            (3) Any proposal approved by a subcommittee of any of these three committees shall be referred to its committee chairman, who shall schedule it for hearing within five days of its referral from the subcommittee. The committee shall vote on any proposal endorsed by at least five committee members within 24 hours after the hearing (weekends and holidays excluded). Approval shall be by a simple majority of committee members present and voting.

            (4) Every proposal reported from the fiscal restraints, federal jurisdiction, or term limits committee shall be scheduled for debate and a vote on the floor of the convention; the presiding officer of the convention shall have no authority to refuse to schedule debate or a vote on any such proposal, and no formal rule shall be required to schedule any such proposal for debate or a vote. No motion to adjourn sine die shall be in order so long as any such proposal remains without a convention vote to pass, reject, or table.


            (1) The general reasons beyond these rules are found in §3.14 of ROBERT G. NATELSON, STATE INITIATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: A GUIDE FOR LAWYERS AND LEGISLATIVE DRAFTERS (4th ed. 2016) (popularly called the “Article V Compendium”—and hereinafter “COMPENDIUM”).

            The specific rules derive from a variety of sources (including many prior conventions of states), but particularly from the rules adopted by the 1861 Washington Conference Convention, a general gathering of states that proposed a constitutional amendment. Those rules were, in turn, based on previous convention experience.

            However, with one exception (election of certain committee members) the secrecy rules applying in earlier conventions have been dropped. Modern expectations are of openness.

            (2) For an explanation of the selection of Mason’s Manual, see COMPENDIUM, §3.14.4. The 1850 Nashville convention designated Jefferson’s rules for the U.S. Senate as a default source, but that seems more dated and less familiar to most state lawmakers than Mason’s.

            (3) This is derived from the practice of previous interstate conventions. The recommendation of the parliamentarian is an innovation based on a recommendation by an experienced legislator. COMPENDIUM §3.14.3. Some conventions have appointed assistant secretaries, but it would seem better to allow the secretary to appoint assistants without their being convention officers.

            (4) This rule follows the parliamentary common law, see COMPENDIUM §3.14.1, but is placed here to answer questions frequently raised of how the convention is to control internal demonstrations or disorder.

            (5) This is a clarification of precedent and of sometimes-confusing earlier convention rules.

            (6) This follows unvarying former practice.

            (7) The traditional order was for states to vote in a northeast-to-southwest order, but the current configuration of the country makes that difficult, and the alphabetical system is more familiar to modern Americans.

            (8) This rule addresses the unfair and potentially unruly situation arising at the 1850 Nashville Convention, where Tennessee, although having only one vote, sent 100 commissioners, more than all other states combined. The Compendium recommends a maximum of five, which is justified by fact that this convention will include many more states than earlier conventions. The rules take account of the fact that some states may wish to appoint alternate commissioners.

            (9) This is based, with the numbers adjusted for the larger number of states, on the rules of the 1861 Washington Convention. See COMPENDIUM §3.14.3.

            (10) This is the order in Mason’s Manual, as modified for the fact that this is a convention not a legislative body. COMPENDIUM §3.14.5. The pledge of allegiance has been added in this version.

            (11) The word “recess” to describe an adjournment from day-to-day is used in Mason’s Manual.

            (12) This is based on the rules prevailing both at the 1787 Philadelphia Convention and the 1861 Washington Convention, although modified to take account of modern technology. COMPENDIUM § 3.14.5.

            (13) COMPENDIUM §3.14.5.

            (14) Id. The matter in brackets has been inserted for discussion.

            (15) Added to reflect modern conditions. COMPENDIUM §3.14.5.

            (16) Based on the Washington Convention rules, COMPENDIUM §3.14.5, but updated for modern conditions.

            (17) This rule provides that a substantive motion is out of order unless germane to the subjects in the applications and call, whichever is narrower. Normally the subject matter of the applications and the call would be the same. In some cases, however, some of the 34 applications that trigger a convention on a particular subject might mention extraneous subjects. This language makes clear that the convention is to consider only subjects on which at least 34 applications agree, and which are therefore stated in the call.

            (18) Based on the Washington Convention rules. Id.

            (19) Based on the Washington Convention rules. Id.

            (20) Based on a rule of the Washington Convention. Id. The language has been updated.

            (21) This is loosely based on the 1774 New York City convention usually known as the First Continental Congress, but represents a compromise between the need for speed and a rule that mandated delay at the request of any delegation. Id.

            (22) Based on a rule of the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, with language updated.

            (23) COMPENDIUM §3.14.5.

            (24) A proposed rule of the Washington Convention would have dispensed with the right of appeal, but the delegates rejected that provision. Compendium §3.14.5.

            (25) The word “recess” to describe an adjournment from day-to-day is used in Mason’s Manual.

            (26) Based on a rule of the Washington Convention. See COMPENDIUM §3.14.5.

            (27) This optional rule is based on rules of the Washington and 1787 Philadelphia Conventions. Id. The rule reflects the high prestige of the presiding officers of those conventions, General George Washington and former President John Tyler. Other conventions have not adopted this rule, and whether any particular convention adopts it may depend on the identity of its own presiding officer.

            (28) Based on a rule of the Washington Convention, with updated language. COMPENDIUM §3.14.5.

            (29) The requirement for standing committees on fiscal restraints, federal jurisdiction, and term limits is based on the three-subject model application of Citzens for Self-Goverance’s “Convention of States” movement.

            (30) Both plurality elections of committees and presidential appointment were used in prior conventions. Here, elections are reserved for the three most important committees. The convention is free to prescribe election at any time for other committees.

            Earlier convention rules refer to “ballot.” The word “secret” is added because modern Americans may not be aware that the term “ballot” traditionally implies secrecy. Although most of the secrecy rules applied in older conventions have been dropped here, secrecy may be necessary in this case to ensure an impartial choice and to minimize hard feelings among commissioners.

            (31) Based on a rule of the Washington Convention and modern legislative practice. COMPENDIUM §3.14.5.

            (32) This Rule was developed for a convention convened pursuant to the three-subject “Convention of States” application. It sets forth a procedure for proposals within those three subjects, and prevents presiding officers from refusing to permit debate or votes on credible proposals within those three areas.

            (33) Inclusion of the term exclusive would prevent the convention from creating committees to “wire around” the three standing committees mentioned in this section. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to both including and omitting the term “exclusive.”

          • QuitBS

            I’m feel sorry for you. Posting a treaty from history is pathetic. Your naiveté is staggering and scary. What purpose is served by posting the 13 steps for the order of business? A mentally ill cry for help? Do you crave attention and no one is interested? I won’t debate or even discuss issues with the mentally ill. Seek Help. I will now block your account.

          • PatriotWatchdog

            Robyn, you seem like a nice person caught up in the weeds. Smooth talkers came by, told you the problem wasn’t your fault, and they didn’t need your help figuring out a solution either. You have been relieved of all responsibility for either the problem or the solution. Just sit back and watch the perfect repeat of 1787’s Philadelphia convention. Wouldn’t that be nice? That’s not how this will unfold.

            An Article V “Convention for proposing Amendments” is a “federal function.” The states are not in charge. Nothing in Article V suggests that they are. Article V is the “supreme Law of the Land” when it comes to amending the Constitution, not countless interstate convention “callers”.

            What guarantee can you give that the rules listed above will be the actual rules of an Article V “Convention for proposing Amendments”? Are you channeling the Framers? You “know” their thoughts? You can talk process all day, all week, yet in nearly a decade of watching, researching, debating, I’ve yet to hear a single explanation of where I’m supposed to get a warm fuzzy that amending the Constitution will make oath-breakers (and that includes those state legislators promoting this) start upholding the words they swore an oath to uphold.

            The “wrong” Constitution? As if there is more than one. That’s a convenient lie to let many of the promoters of this pig-in-a-poke who are legislators themselves off the hook for violating their oaths when voting to take federal monies for reasons the Constitution doesn’t authorize the feds to either tax or spend on.

            I’ll gladly listen to reason, if reason is put forth, but failure to adhere to the Constitution is not indicative of the Constitution being flawed, but rather, a lack of will by the People to hold their elected officials to their word (oath).

            The Constitution isn’t the problem. Amending it isn’t the solution. We haven’t lived under it for a long time. We should try that first before we start playing Russian Roulette with it, and especially in the hands of state legislators with a record of violating their oath.