House defeats Convention of States resolution...for now | Beaufort County Now | GOP did not have its act together and misinformation abounded

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House defeats Convention of States resolution...for now

The Left-wing News and Observer reports:

In a protracted argument mostly among Republicans, the state House on Thursday narrowly voted against requesting a national convention to make changes to the U.S. Constitution.

The 53-59 vote killed the resolution, but the House later brought the issue back up and voted 66-45 to allow it to be considered again. The resolution was sent to the House Rules Committee, and Speaker Tim Moore said it could be brought up for a vote again next year. He says it’s unlikely the resolution will be considered again this year.

Sen. Bert Jones of Reidsville argued for it, saying 12 other states have formally requested a convention of the states. The movement stems from the belief that the U.S. Constitution must be amended to make Washington politicians more responsive and stave off a growing national debt that conservative supporters say will eventually destroy the country’s economy.

Jones said of all the hundreds of bills filed in the General Assembly this year “none are more important to the health of nation than this one.”

Moore took the unusual step of participating in the debate from the House floor, supporting Jones’ resolution.

Rep. Michael Speciale, a conservative Republican from New Bern, was among the House members who warned that there were dangers of holding such a convention because it could be expanded beyond its original purposes. He said it should be used only as a last resort.

Democratic Rep. Deb Butler of Wilmington spoke against the bill for the same reason as Speciale.

“We are living in an environment that is politically incendiary. We have to all agree on that,” she said. “There are extremists on either side of this debate who could co-opt a convention and do great damage to our Constitution.”

In April, the Senate passed a resolution calling for a convention of the states in a 29-20 vote.

The House took up the resolution after former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint visited the legislature Tuesday to lobby for the concept. The group also brought a hat-wearing llama to draw attention to their cause.

There hasn’t been a constitutional convention since the first one in 1787. If two-thirds of the states call for a convention, Congress has to call the meeting.

While 12 states have passed a similar resolution to the one considered in North Carolina, other states have passed bills calling for a balanced budget amendment, leading to some confusion about how close the count stands to the required 34 states.

Nancy MacLean, a professor of history and public policy at Duke University, said the most organized or best funded delegations might be able to steer a convention. She said holding a convention could be opening Pandora’s box.

“It’s inviting the whirlwind to hold one of these things, especially at a time when the country is so divided and polarized,” said MacLean, whose new book “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America” is among Oprah’s 20 books to read this summer. “The people that are pushing these conventions say that they believe in the American Constitution, yet they want to change the American Constitution significantly.”

While supporters of calling a new constitutional convention believe its scope could be limited — Wisconsin, for example, said its delegates would only be able to vote on amendments related to a balanced budget — others think there would be no controlling where a convention goes.

“The best example is our own constitutional convention (in 1787), which was called essentially to fix the Articles of Confederation,” said Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at UNC Chapel Hill. “The rest, as they say, is history. If you have a formal constitutional convention, at that point, all bets are off.”

Commentary

The misinformation on this issue is distressing.  A COS, in accord with this resolution would be limited to the items included in the resolution.  Moreover, the Convention could not amend the Constitution, but could only propose it.  If it attaomed the necessary 2/3 of the states to be submitted it would require 3/4 concurrence by the states to be ratified.  So the argument that extremists could "co-op" the convention is bogus.  Not a likely situation where it would be comparable to the 1787 convention.  One of the items in the Resolution is term limits.  One might presume that cost it some votes.

 


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