Guest Column: Article V Convention? There is a better and safer way.

(From time to time, we have guest columnists commenting on issues of the day from their perspective. Guest columns are always welcome, and can be submitted to me here. -PP)

The US Constitution is arguably the greatest governing document ever written. But great notwithstanding, our Constitution has its frailties. Indeed, every socio-legal contract ever conceived has an intrinsic Achilles’ heel. For America’s constitution that vulnerable place is located in its fifth section: “Article V.”
Article V gives state-level lawmakers the power to force Congress to arrange a meeting (convention) of delegates to change, suspend, rewrite or overhaul the Constitution of the United States of America.

Our nation’s Constitution is not an easy study. The relevant part of Article V, however, is only 87 words in length and takes less than a minute to read and comprehend. (Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was a comparative tome at 272 words.) The literary footprint of Article V is unremarkable, belying a clear and present danger to our nation’s supreme law in its entirety.

Manipulation of our Constitution through its fifth section is serious and recent; this isn’t a fictional Tom Clancy conspiracy novel. SD’s House of Representatives conducted floor debate three times this year on the invocation of an Article V Convention (House Joint Resolution, HJR 1002). Our constitution was under genuine and substantial threat.

Ostensibly, the Resolution’s primary purpose was to force Congress to exercise self-control in collecting and expending taxpayer dollars. Washington D.C. was to be contractually bound by the Constitution via the colloquialisms “Convention of States” and “Balanced Budget Amendment.” Despite attractive taxpayer-seductive language, SD’s State Representatives wisely and soundly killed HJR 1002.

Although advertised otherwise, the Article V application for a Convention of States does not grant SD’s Legislature any control over convention topics. Our US Constitution would be hung on a wall to become a dartboard for random whimsical repeals and modifications. Would South Dakotans be willing to risk their right to keep and bear firearms? …or freely worship? I think not.

Had the Article V Convention been authorized, the US Congress would’ve had sole authority to appoint delegates and assign state allegiance to each. California’s 55 electoral votes versus South Dakota’s three? Could’ve happened. Congress also owned the prerogative to select the ratification process. Further, once convened, delegates become self-sovereign; accountable only to themselves. Not to Congress. Not to the SD Legislature. Not even to “We the People.”

Every SD state representative favors fiscal responsibility and limited federal government. Proponents of the Article V Convention couldn’t explain why they’d hold our Constitution hostage, in ransom for unenforceable federal fiscal requirements. Blackmailing Congress is flawed strategy. An Article V Convention directly implies that our Constitution is structurally unsound and in dire need of repair. The majority of SD’s state representatives did not – and do not – concur.

Besides, there’s a better and safer way. If answerable fiscal policy is the target, then American citizens should focus their sights on our elected officials at their federal posts. Know that our Constitution in its present state already includes restraints on the Feds. Demand your elected officials adhere to the Constitution – not amend it. None of the existing 27 constitutional amendments were enacted utilizing Article V procedures.

President James Madison – a primary author of our Constitution – expressed grave concern regarding Article V “difficulties.” In 1788, he stated he’d quite “tremble” at the thought of likely “insidious” partisan delegates at Article V Conventions. Eventually, he proposed the Constitution be void of all reference to the Article V process.

Our supreme law is vulnerable at its succinct, exploitable fifth section. Since our nation’s birth, more than a million American men and women have sacrificed their lives, providing the armor that’s protected the Constitution at its Achilles’ heel. The Article V Convention of States is perilous self-sabotage. The sacred, venerable Constitution of the United States of America is not wherein the problem lies. This state legislator asks – and votes – that it be left alone.

Rep. David L. Johnson, R-District 33
SD State House of Representatives

10 thoughts on “Guest Column: Article V Convention? There is a better and safer way.”

    1. And how is Noem responsible for the right wing wackos voting against repeal and replace.

    1. I doubt he did write it. I dont think he opened his mouth during the floor debate on HJR1002.

  1. And to think a balanced budget amendment or term limits would magically Right the sinking ship of debt and fill the Federal coffers with Franklins. Pure dangerous naivety.
    Great article Rep. Johnson.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Hoffman. I stand firmly in defense of my Constitution today just as I did when I swore to its protection and defense as an officer in the USAF back in the 80’s, and then again in January of this year in my oath as a new state legislator.

      I firmly believe (and want my fellow citizens to know) that the current Article V movement in SD is a grave threat to our national Constitution. That’s why I wrote this Op/Ed article for the Rapid City Journal and why I spoke against the Resolution on the House floor during its debate in February.

      I have an abiding respect for the House prime sponsor of HCR1002, but also a deep disagreement with his Resolution. I encourage all South Dakotans to pay close attention to this issue as I believe it will return to the legislature again next year. I’ll continue to speak out publicly and privately against this well-intentioned – but dangerous – legislation.

      I’m urging all South Dakotans, with regard to an Article V proposal, to either support its defeat or defeat its support.

      Rep. David L. Johnson
      R-District 33, Pennington & Meade Cos

  2. I see your page needs some fresh & unique articles.
    Writing manually is time consuming, but there is solution for this hard task.
    Just search for – Miftolo’s tools rewriter

  3. Since it is such a short read, let us examine the final words of Article V: “… and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”

    The influence of South Dakota shall be the same as California in the process of Convention of states. Just as the influences of the respective states are the same in the U.S. Senate. The possibility you offer to scare your constituents (“California’s 55 electoral votes versus South Dakota’s three”) is contrary to the definition in Article V.

    As far as a rogue outcome the result of a convention of states: The result of any convention of states must be either “ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof”. Certainly not an easy threshold to attain.

    The ratification process is state-by-state, not according to electoral vote totals as you infer in your treatise.

    The accounts of which I have read about the process of an Article V convention of states indicate that each state legislature has responsibility to appoint representatives to the convention.

    Given the inaccuracies contained in your submission (as well as all the shenanigans which emanate from our state legislatures each and every session), I am not certain I gain much comfort, nor confidence that the South Dakota legislatures would be responsible for this task.

    To many constitutional conservatives, the clear and present danger to the Constitution of the United States, as well as to liberty in the United States of America is the overreach of a federal government.

    Article V of the Constitution yields to you as a state legislator power to be part of a process to stem this over-reach and return power to the states (and to we, the people).

    Are you up for the job ? Or do the voters need to upgrade representation in your district ?

  4. If you paid funds (or if the state paid funds on your behalf) to a legislative research or advisory group to provide the boilerplate outline for this submission, please seek a refund. You have been mis-guided.

Comments are closed.