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Article V: A Potential Path to Restore State Sovereignty & Citizen Responsibility

By Shanon Brooks

According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, a Constitutional Convention could be activated by the application of at least 34 states.

There are two strongly-held opinions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of such a convention.

One purports that such a move would likely put the nation and her 224 year-old charter in mortal jeopardy by risking a “runaway convention.”

The other claims that it is the right of the several sovereign states to exercise Article V and direct the actions of such a convention.

The truth is we will never really know what could happen in such a convention until it actually occurs.

The original Convention of Philadelphia was in fact a “runaway” convention. But by all accounts, that was actually a good thing.

It was a good thing because the members of that convention were for the most part, intelligent, moral, and wise men that were willing to put aside their egos and search for a solution of governance that promoted individual freedom, state sovereignty and national liberty.

Today we suffer morally and fiscally from a “runaway” congress.

Those who fear a “con-con” are actually reacting to the fact that there are few in congress that share the qualities of character and self-restraint epitomized by those august members of our first Constitutional Convention.

After all is said and done, what really matters is the character and wisdom of the individual members of Congress.

If a convention were called for by the application of the states, Congress would determine all of the details of the convention; its duration, location, membership and agenda.

Would you trust today’s Congress to establish the parameters for a Constitutional Convention that could have the power to alter or destroy our freedoms and our very way of life?  If the answer is no, then we are in worse shape than we imagine.

We don’t need a con-con to destroy the U.S Constitution, congress already wields such power and is currently passing legislation on a regular basis that destroys the very liberty they have sworn to uphold.

What Americans and America need is an infusion of patriotism and political virtue.

We need an opportunity, a critical moment, an instant of clarity that defines who we are and what it means to be Americans, to live in a Republic and to be responsible citizens supporting and engaging in our democratic republic

In a democratic republic, if the government fails, the people have no one to blame but themselves.

If 34 states were to call for the activation of Article V, there is no doubt that many issues could be addressed: a balanced federal budget, the banning  of abortion or flag burning, giving states the right to determine the apportionment of their legislative districts, term limits, and many others.

It is certain that many Americans who currently stand on the side-lines would be pulled into the debate by sheer gravitational force and take an active part in determining the outcome of the question.

How is this bad?  How could such a process of the people, by the people and for the people be any worse than the missteps Congress is currently making?

I don’t have all of the answers, but such a process would certainly drive me to look for them.

Regardless the outcome of a state initiated convention, 38 states would have to ratify any new amendments.

The citizens of 38 states or their representatives would have to ponder, discuss, debate, and argue until a majority in each of the 38 distinct and culturally diverse populations agreed on a single idea.

What would be the odds?

Worried that people are easily swayed? Then get out there and do some persuading yourself.

We can either die a slow death as congress whittles away at the original intent of the founders, or allow the pot to be stirred— actively trusting God and ourselves to guide us to a more promising future.


Shanon Brooks is the President of Monticello College, the Director of Education and Training for Humanitarian Visions International, S.A., and a founding partner of the Center for Social Leadership. He co-authored Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens.

Shanon and his wife Julia are raising their six children in Monticello, Utah.

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