A website is raising the alarm in an attempt to stop the Ohio legislature from voting for a Constitutional Convention for the United States in the fear that it will become an open convention. Their fears are unfounded. Article V of the Constitution permits the states to demand "a Convention for offering Amendments . . . [to] this Constitution" [emphasis added], and nothing more. Reinforcing that limitation is a law passed by Congress that the convention cannot consider anything that is not in the call for the convention. You can be sure the people in power will not give up any unless you strictly follow the letter of the law.
I could not confirm that thirty-two states have called for the convention--Google "constitutional convention" and you will come up with 448,000 hits. Do a Google search on "con con" (an abbreviation in the blogosphere for constitutional convention) and get 138,000,000 hits. Obviously, I did not check all of the sites. I'll continue to research this. It may be the subject of a future post.
What I did find is several states have proposed a convention for amending their own state constitutions; Illinois in particular is in the news right now because of Governor Blagojevich's arrest. And there are countries like the Philippians who want to amend their national constitutions.
Nonetheless, this provides an excuse for me to put in my own 2¢ worth: a convention to propose just a balanced budget amendment would be a horrendous waste.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, dissenting in Olmstead v. U.S. (1928), wrote,
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.
The balanced budget amendment is an important amendment but so is term limiting Congress; a more vital amendment is reigning in the unlimited power of the United States Supreme Court.
In the year 2000, Justice Scalia stated in his dissent in the Dickerson case that the Supreme Court had given itself the power to amend the Constitution. The only remarkable thing about Dickerson is the Court came out and openly stated (in lawyer-speak, of course) that it could amend the Constitution. In fact, it had been covertly amending the Constitution at least since the Warren Court of the 1950s.
It will never be possible to amend the Constitution fast enough and often enough to keep up with an illegitimate, activist Supreme Court. Of some ten thousand amendments proposed during the history of this nation, only twenty-seven have been ratified to become a part of the Constitution.
If several amendments compete for the public's attention, it diminishes the probability that any one of them will be adopted. Instead, the people should unite in support of a Convention for offering amendments under Article V. of the Constitution.
When the Supreme Court seized power in Marbury v. Madison (1803), the people, acquiesced and allowed it to happen. But the country still belongs to the people. The idea that this is a government "of the people, by the people and for the people" did not die when Abraham Lincoln was shot.. We can still do something about it.
The Constitution does NOT give the Court the right of judicial review (overturning an Act of Congress) nor does it give the Court the power to amend the Constitution. See, U. S. Const., Art. V here: http://www.usconstitution.net/. In drafting the Constitution the founders considered, and specifically rejected, the notion that the Court could overturn an Act of Congress. Nonetheless, the Court seized that power in Marbury v. Madison (1803).
We need to take the power back.