July Newsletter

  • Florida Adopts ‘Single Subject” Article V Application
  • California Joins Vermont in Article V Effort
  • Article V Farris-Schlafly Debate Video is Now Available
  • CoS Leaders to Launch Series of Fall Rallies
  • September 17 is Constitution Day
  • Herman Cain to Speak at ALEC Luncheon
  • The Article V Library is a Valuable Research Resource
  • Political Leaders Say a BBA Can Put an End to Lack of Leadership

Florida Adopts ‘Single Subject” Article V Application –
Florida resident W. S. “Spider” Webb Jr. has formed a new Article V effort (as a Super PAC)  proposing a constitutional amendment requiring that Congress be limited to adopting “Single Subject” laws.

He points out that 41 states currently have a single subject provision in their constitution which states that any legislation passed must deal with only one subject or it will be repealed. For example, the Florida Constitution reads: Art. III, Section 6 – Every law shall embrace but one subject and matter properly connected therewith, and the subject shall be briefly expressed in the title.

The Florida legislature has already adopted an Article V application calling for the Single Subject amendment.  House Memorial 261, which was introduced by Florida state Representative Halsey Beshears was adopted this spring with strong bipartisan majorities in both legislative chambers.

For more information on Single Subject Amendment PAC, and the group’s mission, visit www.SingleSubjectAmendment.com.  Mr. Webb can be reached at 850-694-2607.

California Adopts Article V Application –
California became the second state to adopt a Wolf-PAC promoted Article V application when on June 23 the CA Senate approved the earlier House-passed Article V resolution (AJR 1).

The application, aimed at overturning the 2010 US Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is similar to one passed earlier by the Vermont legislature.  The application states that it is “for the sole purpose of proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would limit corporate personhood for purposes of campaign finance and political speech and would further declare that money does not constitute speech and may be legislatively limited…”

Wolf-PAC reports that its proposal is pending in eight other states.  More info at: www.wolf-pac.com, Mike Monetta – 603-812-8173.

May Article V Debate Video is Now Available –
During May, Michael Farris of Convention of States (CoS) and Andy Schlafly of the Eagle Forum held a debate in a New Jersey church.  Farris argued in favor of using Article V while Schlafly argued against using Article V.

While the audio quality is less-than-desirable, the entire 1 hour 24 minute brush-up can be watched/heard at:  http://conventionofstates.com/michael-farris-debates-andy-schlafly-new-jersey/.

CoS Leaders to Launch Series of Fall Rallies –
Mark Meckler and Mike Ferris of the Convention of States effort plan appearances in multiple states this fall.  The rallies and events are aimed at ensuring that the Article V CoS proposal is given optimum exposure ahead of the fall election season.

One of the CoS rallies will be in Denver on September 2.  Article V expert Prof. Rob Natelson is expected to speak at the event.

September 17 is Constitution Day –
Wednesday, September 17 is designated Constitution Day across the US.  We are told that federal regulations require every US school to teach their students something about the Constitution on that day.

What a great opportunity to teach young people about the relatively unknown provisions in Article V and the powers they extend to states.  Plan now to work with local teachers to set up a Constitution Day teaching event.

Herman Cain to Speak at ALEC Luncheon –
The BBA Task Force has announced that former presidential candidate and radio talk show host Herman Cain will address state legislators on Friday August 1, during the 2014 ALEC Annual meeting in Dallas, TX.

Cain will be talking about using the provisions of Article V to restore federalism and tackle issues plaguing the federal government.  Several Article V proponents have announced their intent to be at the July 29 through August 2 event.  They hope to engage state legislators in one-on-one conversations about the importance of states using Article V to restore a balance between state and federal powers.

The Article V Library is a Valuable Research Resource –
Anyone who champions the use of Article V should be (or become) familiar with www.article5library.org.

The site is the work of Robert Biggerstaff, a man loth to saying much about himself.  He points out that prior to his site there was no public central repository of documents relating to Article V applications from states. Even Congress doesn’t have any uniform procedure in place for handling Article V applications from the states.

As an Article V researcher himself, he eventually found his own accumulation of documents and notes related to this endeavor demanded an indexing and retrieval system significantly more sophisticated than the dog-eared file folders, index cards, and color-coded highlighters he had been using.  He began building a database of documents that over time, expanded in both volume capacity and complexity.  Knowing his research could be invaluable to someone else on a similar research trail, he founded The Article V Library.

On Robert’s site one can look up virtually any Article V application ever filed by any state.  He keeps track of rescissions too.  They can be searched by subject, state or year.  The site includes references to useful Article V documents (currently 114 of them).  The completely nonpartisan site avoids affiliation with any groups advocating a particular use of Article V.

Robert says, “Our primary goal is to make the source documents available to everyone equally and to objectively organize them in ways that may be useful to users regardless of the purpose or goal of the user.  There is no agenda except a sense of public service to make these documents available to others.”  No one receives any remuneration for their work related to the Article V Library.

He admits, “As with any document collection, there may be errors and obviously omissions if documents are not known to us.  There certainly are some lingering typos due to the OCR of source documents that escaped review.  Those are corrected as we get to them.  But we do believe this collection is the most accurate resource regarding the actual Article V applications themselves.”

Most Article V scholars are impressed with Biggerstaff’s work, and consider his Library an invaluable service to those seriously researching Article V issues.

Political Leaders Say a BBA Can Put an End to Lack of Leadership –
On June 27 the Huffington Post carried an article championing the need for a state-led Article V convention leading to a constitutional amendment requiring a federal balanced budget.

The article was co-authored by Ohio Governor John R. Kasich (a Republican), and Minnesota’s Congressman Timothy Perry (a Democrat).

They say, “It’s time to force Washington to focus on the essential priority of sound fiscal management and balance the federal budget every year.  Fortunately, the US Constitution empowers states to trigger this kind of change and we are seeing a recent wave of state’s call for a convention to pass an amendment to require a balanced budget….”

Addressing those who fear any changes to the Constitution, they say: “Admittedly the Constitution has worked well for more than two centuries; we shouldn’t tinker with it lightly. The high number of states required to initiate this process — and then approve the product of it — stand as a safe barrier against things going in an unintended direction.  When, however, Washington’s level of fiscal irresponsibility reaches the heights it has, with little hope that Washington can fix itself, this type of intervention should be considered.”

They conclude with: “without a balanced budget amendment, the status quo wins and future generations lose.”

Read the full article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gov-john-kasich/balanced-budget-amendment_b_5536682.html.

Did you know?
* That one reason Founding-Era conventions worked so well is that many or most of the commissioners had attended interstate conventions before.  The Assembly of State Legislatures is working on rules and procedures in advance of an amendments convention to make up for the fact that the commissioners will not have attended such a gathering before.

* It looks like the Assembly of State Legislatures will recommend Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure as a source of rules. Mason’s Manual has been around for decades, and it now governs the proceedings of over 70% of state legislative chambers.                                                                                                                        

By Prof. Rob Natelson
Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence
Independence Institute & Montana Policy Institute

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