Levin: Backing Convention of States is a no-brainer for conservatives

Levin: Backing Convention of States is a no-brainer for conservatives

Levin: Backing Convention of States is a no-brainer for conservatives

A move is under way, perhaps a quiet move, to give more governing authority to the man or woman you're prone to see at church, the grocery store or the community 4th of July fireworks celebration.

In his 2014 book "The Liberty Amendments" – a New York Times #1 bestseller – author, media personality and former advisor in the Reagan administration Mark Levin says Americans should return power to the states; and that the states have the authority to claim this power under the document many now seek to revise: the U.S. Constitution.

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; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

According to ConventionofStates.com, 19 states have passed a resolution to call an Article V convention for the purpose of adding constitutional amendments that would "impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limit the terms of office for officials and members of Congress." (See sidebar)

Opponents say the Constitution lacks guidelines for what an Article V convention would look like and would therefore result in chaos followed by legal battles. Levin sees it differently.

"The Framers of the Constitution in Philadelphia put this language in Article V to allow for two ways to amend the Constitution. Both of them are very difficult by design," Levin said Friday on American Family Radio.

The first requires the House and Senate to pass a proposed amendment each by two-thirds majority. Once that happens the bill would be presented to the states. This is the route taken by all current constitutional amendments.

The second is to call a Constitutional Convention, an act that requires approval of two-thirds of state legislatures. The magic number just to get approval for the convention is 34 states; once there, passing proposed amendments would require approval of 38 states.

ConventionofStates.com says in addition to the 19 states that have passed the resolution seeking a convention, another seven have passed it in one legislative chamber. Another 14 states are discussing it.

The Convention of States project is led by Citizens for Self-governance, an organization that seeks to provide resources, advocacy and education for like-minded groups and individuals.

Commoncause.org, which opposes a Constitutional Convention, says the Convention of States movement has "major resources" behind it. The accompanying list includes current and former members of Congress, current and former state governors and more.

The quiet movement

Despite receiving those endorsements, what Convention of States hasn't received is a notable amount of media coverage.

Levin, Mark Levin

"This has been a fairly low-profile process," Levin told show host Jenna Ellis. "You know, and I know, and I think your listeners know that Washington is not going to reform Washington. Congress is not going to say, 'You know what? We're too big, we're too strong, we're violating the Constitution.' People complain about this, but writing your congressman is not going to fix it."

He'll support three, but Levin himself proposed 11 amendments – his reasoning being, to borrow a line from the 70s rock duo Seals and Crofts: "We may never pass this way again."

Whether it happens this time remains to be seen, but Americans should thank George Mason that the opportunity exists. As Levin explained, Mason – the author of Virginia's Declaration of Rights in 1776 – came up with the method that allows states to bypass Congress and amend the U.S. Constitution.

As the Framers neared the end of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, their work had included only one way – the congressional way – to amend their document.

Mason argued for the states option because "no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people if the government should become oppressive," wrote another Virginian, James Madison.

Oppression is what we have now, Levin says.

"I see that as we move further and further away from constitutional government with more and more power centralized in Washington, DC, more and more power centralized in the Democrat Party," he said." You see the Democrats in Congress doing things the Framers could never have dreamed of: When they have a Democrat president, they can further legislative power to that president. When they don't, they try to destroy the Republican president who's in office.

"This is not the kind of government that the Framers had in mind," Levin emphasized.

"Convention of states is the only constitutional way to get our country back …. Washington is not going to fix Washington. You're going to fix Washington!" (Mark Levin at CPAC)

Checking the Supreme Court

Among the changes Levin proposes is a Supreme Court override that does not currently exist.

He suggests an amendment that would allow Congress, by a three-fifths super majority vote of both houses, to nullify – not rewrite or replace – a Supreme Court decision if they act within 24 months. He would give the same power to the states if three-fifths of legislatures would vote to nullify a decision in 24 months.

Levin says the process would work better than "five lawyers who happen to get picked to be justices of the Supreme Court, and you have 5-4 votes on what fundamental rights are. So in other words, if one justice swings, it's not a fundamental right. I think there's some perversity in all that, and of course the Framers never expected the Supreme Court to be as powerful as it is or any of these branches of government."

If the states had that voice in 2015, it's possible that same-sex marriage would not be the law of the land today. According to Levin, it could also take steam out of arguments to add to the number of justices on the court.

"Look at the issue of abortion. They got it right, you know, [Justice Samuel] Alito and the others. It's up to the states – and the Left goes nuts. They threaten Supreme Court justices. They want to expand the court, so they get the decision they want."

Levin argues that overturning major Supreme Court decision shouldn't be easy, but shouldn't be impossible either.

"When it comes to these major cases right now, we have no say whatsoever given the power of the court. You know, [Thomas] Jefferson saw this early on. He was very concerned about this," Levin said.

A check on the Supreme Court is not on the agenda for a proposed Convention of States, nor would be discussions on free speech or the right to bear arms.

Levin refutes the claim that a convention would be a wild and chaotic event.

"My challenge is this: How could you possibly have a runaway convention when you still need 38 states?" Levin asked. "That's the legislatures or conventions needed to ratify whatever comes out of this meeting. Our problem is going to be getting the amendments passed, not a runaway convention."

Levin says getting behind the convention movement is a no-brainer for conservatives.

"[Democrats] oppose Federalism, they oppose representative government, they oppose Constitutionalism, and we support it. Now if you want to get it back, if you want to at least try to get it back in some significant way, then you'll support the Convention of the States. If you just want to whine about it and rub your hands and complain, then you won't. It's that simple."