Seven Reasons why we need more citizen involvement and not a Constitutional Convention Resolution

Eagle Forum of Alabama opposes the recently introduced resolution HJR23 which pushes a Constitutional Convention as a way to obtain term limits for members of Congress. Term Limits via an Article V Constitutional Convention is a bad idea on multiple counts. We don’t need yet another call for an Article V Constitutional Convention, which according to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger and other Constitutional scholars, cannot be limited to any one issue and could become a Pandora’s Box.

There are many problems with HJR23.

1. We already have ‘term limits’, they are called “elections”, every two, four, and six years. Just because voters are derelict in their duty, does not mean we must change our process.
2. ‘Artificial’ term limits means giving the bureaucracy a LOT more power, in that institutional memory and experience is no longer available.
3. Voters are prohibited from voting for the person they believe is best for that office.
4. In the last term any official serves, without re-election on the horizon, there is no longer the accountability that was once there.
5. Term limits can prevent legislators from gaining the experience they need to become skilled lawmakers.
6. Term limits would give lobbyists more influence. 
In his presidential farewell address in 1989, President Reagan rightly pointed out that term limits are “a preemption of the people’s right to vote for whomever they want as many times as they want.”
7. Here’s a look at congressional tenure by the numbers: 9.1 Years of average length of service in the United States House of Representatives as of January 2013, according to the Congressional Research Service. Average length of service in the U.S. Senate as of January 2013 is 10.2 years.

The way to effectively reform Congress lies in supporting and voting for candidates who uphold the belief in a stronger local government rather than a stronger national government. Term limits will not achieve the reform that is needed in our federal government because term limits will NOT RESTRAIN the power of our federal government. The solution is for citizens to get involved with the political process at all levels. As Justice Antonin Scalia stated on May 11, 2015: “A Constitutional Convention is a horrible idea. This is not a good century to write a Constitution.”

Andy Schlafly on a Compact for a Balanced Budget Article V Convention

The following letter regarding a Constitutional Convention was sent from Eunie Smith to Alabama Legislators on May 6, 2015. 

To:  Alabama Legislators
From:  Eunie Smith, President Eagle Forum of Alabama

Apparently you have received misinformation regarding Eagle Forum’s position on an Article V Convention.  Please read carefully Eagle Forum Board Member Andy Schlafly’s short statement following, forwarded to me on 5/3/15:

“I completely oppose an Article V Convention.  It is a dangerous threat to our values and our Nation.  Congress or judicial activism would likely require that the voting at such a convention be in proportion to population, and thereby dominated by liberal states.  They would probably put a right to abortion and homosexual marriage into the Constitution, and repeal the Second Amendment.  There is nothing good that can result from an Article V Convention, because Congress and the Courts will not feel restrained by a new amendment any more than they comply with existing text.  Even proposing an Article V Convention has the harmful effect of devaluing the Constitution we cherish.

The original Constitutional Convention was made possible by rules of secrecy against media interference.  That is impossible today, and thus the liberal media would obtain the result it wants.  Pinning one’s hopes on an Article V Convention today is like a bankrupt man turning to gambling to solve his family’s financial problems.  Hard work, in electing good people who defend our existing Constitution, is what is needed.  The pie-in-the-sky, dangerous proposal of an Article V Convention should be rejected.  (11/16/2014)”

Andrew L. Schlafly, Esq.
Attorney who practices before the U.S. Supreme Court and twelve U.S. Courts of Appeal; General Counsel of the Assn. of American Physicians & Surgeons (oldest conservative group in the U.S.); A leading attorney in federal litigation against abortion; For six consecutive years, 2009-2014, have led busloads of teenagers to the March for Life in D.C.; Contact:  [email protected]

Proponents of a Constitutional Convention have insisted that a Convention could be limited to the one issue of a Balanced Budget.  However, Yellowhammer quoted the House Sponsor as saying that the “Convention would be limited to a small set of issues….”  Unfortunately, such limiting is wishful thinking because a convention once convened, is a law unto itself.  All it takes is a majority proclaimed by the chairman of the Convention, and anything goes.

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Andy Schlafly’s statement against a Convention of the States

I completely oppose an Article V convention.  It is a dangerous threat to our values and our Nation.  Congress or judicial activism would likely require that the voting at such a convention be in proportion to population, and thereby dominated by liberal states.  They would probably put a right to abortion and homosexual marriage into the Constitution, and repeal the Second Amendment.  There is nothing good that can result from an Article V convention, because Congress and the Courts will not feel restrained by a new amendment any more than they comply with existing text.  Even proposing an Article V convention has the harmful effect of devaluing the Constitution we cherish.

The original Constitutional Convention was made possible by rules of secrecy against media interference. That is impossible today and thus the liberal media would obtain the result it wants.  Pinning one’s hopes on an Article V convention today is like a bankrupt man turning to gambling to solve his family’s financial problems.  Hard work, in electing good people who defend our existing Constitution, is what is needed.  The pie-in-the-sky, dangerous proposal of an Article V convention should be rejected.

 

Andrew L. Schlafly, Esq.

Attorney who practices before the U.S. Supreme Court and twelve U.S. Courts of Appeal

General Counsel of the Ass’n of American Physicians & Surgeons (oldest conservative group in the U.S.)

A leading attorney in federal litigation against abortion

For six consecutive years, 2009-2014, have led busloads of teenagers to the March for Life in D.C.

Don’t Be Fooled By Article V Conventions

Great article by Matthew Spaulding over at Heritage on why constitutional amendment conventions are not necessary to fix our problems.

Stemming from that analysis, and taking into consideration the circumstances under which we are now operating, we have come to the conclusion that an Article V convention is not the answer to our problems.  The lack of precedent, extensive unknowns, and considerable risks of an Article V amendments convention should bring sober pause to advocates of legitimate constitutional reform contemplating this avenue.  We are not prepared to encourage state governments at this time to apply to Congress to call an amendments convention.

Basically, the ramifications of a convention are wholly unknown, and for that reason too risky to use.

That said, advocating an Article V convention as part of a state-based strategy to press Congress to pass a constitutional amendment is not unreasonable.  Precisely because of the potential chaos of the process, the very threat of an amendments convention will pressure Congress to act rather than risk having one proceed.  That’s what happened in the 1980s with the unsuccessful push for a balanced budget amendment (good example) but also during the progressive era with the successful push for the direct election of senators (bad example).

Stop Trojan Horse SJR 87

Urgent:  Please ask your Senator and House member to stop SJR87.

RE: SJR 87 asking for term limits via Constitutional Convention

In recognition of the fact that an Article V Convention is not a solution, but rather a Trojan Horse, both Maryland and New Mexico rescinded all previous calls for a Con Con during the first week of April, 2017.

Many well-intentioned conservatives cling to a Convention as a solution to problems our country faces.  However, numerous extremely radical, progressive and socialist organizations are also fighting for an Article V Convention with George Soros’ money and massive media outreach.  Constitutional scholars* (see below) and political experience confirm that a Constitutional Convention once convened would be a law unto itself.  Therefore, it could well put at risk some of our most cherished freedoms and even our entire Constitution.

  • COS advocates cover the full spectrum of ideologies and include hundreds of organizations in the Move to Amend coalition like Peace groups (Watch out Second Amendment.), communist fronts, Sierra Club, Code Pink, Occupy groups, and Wolf-PAC, which wants to publicly finance elections. Some toy with ideas like direct democracy and the popular vote, while others never publicly state what they would seek from a convention.  All that these groups have been able to agree upon so far is the desire to hold a COS.
  • A COS cannot be limited, since there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution and no law to restrict its purpose, procedures, agenda, duration or election of delegates.
  • There is no way to assure that COS delegates would obey any restrictions placed on them by the states. They may not have to run for re-election and thus would be free from accountability to the public.
  • Term limits in states such as Missouri have given unelected bureaucrats the upper hand with procedural and institutional knowledge.  In Alabama, state employees lobbying the Alabama legislature already seem disproportionate to the private sector.  How much worse will it be to give the lifetime bureaucrats in DC even more power and control over a frequently changing Congress?
  • There is no stopgap for preventing ill-conceived constitutional changes from being ratified by 38 or more states. Modern communications capability gives moneyed special interests the ability to whip the populace up with emotional rhetoric to get them to vote for ideas that test well in focus groups rather than those that have survived the test of time.
  • We have for so long neglected to truly educate our children on the Foundational events and documents that created the United States of America that many now believe the Constitution and Bill of Rights, rather than being documents based on the careful study of thousands of years of human behavior, are outdated and irrelevant. It would be easy to stir up those so uneducated into a popular frenzy of support for any number of amendments that would fundamentally change our country.

Let’s limit terms as needed at the ballot box and strive harder to observe the Constitution that we have.   PLEASE OPPOSE SJR87.

Following are links for sound arguments against the various forms of legislation related to a Constitutional Convention.  They are short and logical.  Hope you find them helpful in speaking with your state legislators.

Links for arguments COS against, CFA WP, Term Limits, and general talking points.

Blessings,

Eunie Smith

*At a minimum…the Federal Judiciary, including The Supreme Court, will have to resolve the inevitable disputes over which branch and level of government may be entrusted to decide each of the many questions left open by Article V.”
— Laurence H. Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School  (affirmed by email 4/7/2017)

“…there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention.  The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda.  Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey.  After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda.  The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the Confederation Congress ‘for the sole and express purpose’.”  Chief Justice Warren Burger in letter to Phyllis Schlafly.

Ask Your Legislators to Stop Trojan Horse SJR 87 (copy 05)

150Urgent:  Please contact your Senator and House member to stop SJR 87
RE: SJR 87 asking for term limits via Constitutional Convention

In recognition of the fact that an Article V Convention Of States is not a solution, but rather a Trojan Horse, both Maryland and Nevada rescinded all previous calls for a Con Con during the first week of April, 2017.

Many well-intentioned conservatives cling to a Convention of States referred to in Article V of our Constitution as a solution to problems our country faces.  However, numerous extremely radical, progressive and socialist organizations are also fighting for an Article V Convention with George Soros’ money and massive media outreach.  Constitutional scholars* (see below) and political experience confirm that a Constitutional Convention once convened would be a law unto itself.  Therefore, it could well put at risk some of our most cherished freedoms and even our entire Constitution.

• COS advocates cover the full spectrum of ideologies and include hundreds of organizations in the Move to Amend coalition like Peace groups (Watch out Second Amendment.), communist fronts, Sierra Club, Code Pink, Occupy groups, and Wolf-PAC, which wants to publicly finance elections. Some toy with ideas like direct democracy and the popular vote, while others never publicly state what they would seek from a convention.  All that these groups have been able to agree upon so far is the desire to hold a COS.

• A COS cannot be limited, since there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution and no law to restrict its purpose, procedures, agenda, duration or election of delegates.

• There is no way to assure that COS delegates would obey any restrictions placed on them by the states. They may not have to run for re-election and thus would be free from accountability to the public.

• Term limits in states such as Missouri have given unelected bureaucrats the upper hand with procedural and institutional knowledge.  In Alabama, state employees lobbying the Alabama legislature already seem disproportionate to the private sector.  How much worse will it be to give the lifetime bureaucrats in DC even more power and control over a frequently changing Congress?

• There is no stopgap for preventing ill-conceived constitutional changes from being ratified by 38 or more states. Modern communications capability gives moneyed special interests the ability to whip the populace up with emotional rhetoric to get them to vote for ideas that test well in focus groups rather than those that have survived the test of time.

• We have for so long neglected to truly educate our children on the Foundational events and documents that created the United States of America that many now believe the Constitution and Bill of Rights, rather than being documents based on the careful study of thousands of years of human behavior, are outdated and irrelevant. It would be easy to stir up those so uneducated into a popular frenzy of support for any number of amendments that would fundamentally change our country.

     Let’s limit terms as needed at the ballot box and strive harder to observe the Constitution that we have.   PLEASE OPPOSE SJR87.

Blessings,
Eunie Smith

*At a minimum…the Federal Judiciary, including The Supreme Court, will have to resolve the inevitable disputes over which branch and level of government may be entrusted to decide each of the many questions left open by Article V.”
— Laurence H. Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School  (affirmed by email 4/7/2017)

“…there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention.  The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda.  Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey.  After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda.  The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the Confederation Congress ‘for the sole and express purpose’.”  Chief Justice Warren Burger in letter to Phyllis Schlafly.

Eagle Forum of Alabama President Eunie Smith awarded the “Dan Ireland Salt and Light Award”

Congratulations to Eunie Smith on being awarded the 2016 Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP) “Dan Ireland Salt and Light Award” for her many years of selfless volunteer work for God, Family and Country/Alabama.   ALCAP Executive Director Joe Godfrey cited many of Eunie’s diverse accomplishments including her having been elected by the Southern Baptist Convention to serve seven years as a Trustee and then elected as Chairman of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee. He recently stated, “When our ALCAP Board discussed who should be this year’s recipient, there was no question that Eunie should be the person to receive the Dan Ireland Salt & Light Award.  She has been a strong advocate for the cause of Christ for many years and has had a positive impact on our culture that many may never realize.” Dr. Ireland himself made the surprise presentation at First Baptist Church Birmingham during the Sunday morning May 15 service.  See the story from The Alabama Baptist, here.

In attendance was State School Board Member Stephanie Bell who said of Eunie, “She is a treasure and Alabama has been blessed by the work of this sacrificial Christian servant and volunteer. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do as you stand for what is right”, and of Eagle Forum, “…they have at their center a core of beliefs about what schools should be, about the role of government.  But to accomplish their goals they are willing to work with anyone or group if they believe the result will be one that benefits children and families.”

ALCAP is a statewide interdenominational ministry that serves as Alabama’s “moral compass” and lobbies the legislature on behalf of the faith community.

Eagle Forum of Alabama was begun by Eunie Smith, who was tapped by Phyllis Schlafly to lead.  For over forty years, Eagle Forum of Alabama, under Eunie’s leadership, has sought to help citizens participate in the process of self-government and public policy making.  We seek to equip individuals with timely, reliable information from a conservative, Constitutional point of view on public policy issues which affect the family.  They will then know how, when and where to express themselves to make their voice heard.  This type of participation in self-government is essential for America to continue to be a land of individual liberty, respect for family integrity, public and private virtue, and private enterprise.  We must keep the education of our children with these principles – unalienable rights, limited government, private enterprise, a strong national defense, and traditional moral values – a major priority.

Some Eagle Forum of Alabama Accomplishments:

  • Catalyst for the Alabama Reading Initiative
  • Proposed the law for citizens’ textbook review
  • Persuaded the State Board of Education to include insert that macroevolution was to be treated as a theory
  • Drafted and pushed passage of the Alabama Abstinence Act of 1992
  • Drafted and pushed passage of the regulation that stopped psychotherapeutic techniques in classrooms
  • Stopped the so-called Equal Rights Amendment
  • Preserved women’s traditional exemption from military draft and combat
  • Retained social security benefits for widows and dependent wives
  • Passed federal and state laws to combat child pornography
  • Protected Alabama parents’ rights to decide on kindergarten
  • Defeated HillaryCare
  • Defeated the ABC Child Care bill
  • Participated in coalitions that defeated the lottery and video poker
  • Consistently advocate legislation that protects innocent human life from conception to natural death
  • Held statewide meetings educating the public on Common Core and continue to work for its repeal
  • Led the movement in 1981 that rescinded the Alabama legislature’s prior calls for a federal constitutional convention, knowing that it would jeopardize the U.S. Constitution
  • Regularly brief state legislators, Congressmen and Senators on countless issues

Ed Martin’s Slander Against Eagle Forum of Alabama

Dear friends and supporters,

I am writing you to set the record straight.  You may have received an email from Ed Martin, who has been employed for approximately 16 months by the National Eagle Forum board on which I serve.  He made statements against me personally as well as Eagle Forum of Alabama. These statements from Mr. Martin are slanderous, libelous and without merit. Does it make sense that six long term board members with a total of 219 years of collective volunteer service to the organization would “hijack Eagle Forum”?  (I have personally served over 44 years.) Certainly not!  These board members have fought tirelessly for many years for the values we hold dear under the leadership of Phyllis Schlafly.

Phyllis Schlafly nominated me to the position which I have served for many years as First Vice President of the National Eagle Forum C4 Board. To accuse me of calling for her removal is also slanderous, libelous and without merit.  Her legacy is legendary and ongoing. It is because of our love and respect for Phyllis and our years of camaraderie that we remain dedicated to protecting her legacy and Eagle Forum.

The “rogue meeting” which Mr. Martin references is a duly called meeting of the full board of directors to conduct necessary board business.  The Martin email with its baseless name calling was not signed by Phyllis Schlafly and is totally uncharacteristic of Eagle Forum.  Eagle Forum has always been an organization that exemplified respectful dialogue and free speech.  The email was apparently designed to intimidate and to thwart six patriotic Americans from doing their fiduciary duty.  These women love God and country and have sacrificed selflessly as volunteers to serve both through Eagle Forum.  To make private Board matters public and slander these women in the process is unconscionable.

Mr. Martin’s letter asserts that Eagle Forum of Alabama “allowed Alabama to pass a Constitutional Convention (Con Con) in 2015.”  While Eagle Forum of Alabama’s goal is to influence the legislature on a myriad of public policy issues, it is beyond absurd to hold this organization accountable for all actions of the state legislature. As you well know, Eagle Forum of Alabama and I personally have faithfully fought any form of Con Con brought to Alabama since our founding. Eagle Forum of Alabama’s reputation of opposing Con Con is well known to those in Alabama. For examples, search our state chapter’s website (alabamaeagle.org) using the term “Constitutional Convention” where a smorgasbord of entries regarding our activities will be readily apparent.

Eagle Forum of Alabama is committed to protecting the integrity of America’s divinely inspired Constitution.  We were instrumental in the Alabama legislature’s resolution rescinding all Con Con calls as far back as 1981. On May 6, 2015, I sent a letter via email to Alabama legislators stating Eagle Forum of Alabama’s position against a Con Con. Included in that letter was Andy Schlafly’s statement against it, as well.  Please see the Con Con question contained in the attached candidate questionnaire and official response from Deborah Love, Executive Director of Eagle Forum of Alabama here.  It is well-known that Eagle Forum of Alabama has consistently opposed any call for a Federal Con Con as well as State Con Cons.

Eagle Forum of Alabama immediately calls on Mr. Martin to cease making slanderous remarks about Eagle Forum of Alabama. If Mr. Martin does not stop making these false statements, we will be forced to take further action on behalf of Eagle Forum of Alabama. If anyone has questions about Eagle Forum’s stance on issues or activities, please contact me or the staff of Eagle Forum of Alabama.  Please be assured that we will continue as we have done for more than 44 years to stand for truth.

Sincerely,

Eunie Smith
President

Eagle Forum of Alabama

Office (205) 879-7096

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Some of Eagle Forum of Alabama’s Educational Resources on the Dangers of Constitutional Conventions

This is not a comprehensive list of our publications or work on the dangers of Constitutional Convention.

 

Video Library Resources on Constitutional Convention

alabamaeagle.org/resources/video-library

 

Print Resources on Constitutional Convention and Constitutional Education.  All resources in print and media library are listed our website and are available to the public at no charge.

alabamaeagle.org/resources/print-library

 

Question on Candidate Questionnaire on Constitutional Conventions

http://alabamaeagle.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Stacy-Lee-George.pdf

 

Eagle Forum of Alabama Website Articles on Constitutional Conventions

http://alabamaeagle.org/?s=Constitutional+Convention

 

Executive Director, Deborah Love’s Response to Ed Martin’s False Accusations

http://alabamaeagle.org/2016/04/11/executive-director-deborah-loves-response-to-ed-martins-false-accusations

 

Eagle Forum of Alabama’s Position Statement

http://alabamaeagle.org/issues/alabama-constitution

 

Eunie Smith’s letter to Alabama Legislators on an Article V Convention

http://alabamaeagle.org/2016/04/11/andy-schlafly-on-a-compact-for-a-balanced-budget-article-v-convention

 

Constitution

The U.S. Constitution was given to us by brilliant men who sought God’s wisdom in the creation of our nation.  They came to this land for religious freedom.  The Constitution they left for us is not an evolving document, but one with timeless truths.  We oppose any Constitutional Convention designed to change it.

We believe that any rewrite of the Alabama Constitution by means of a constitutional convention jeopardizes every individual right now upheld in this state.  Alabama’s citizens enjoy stronger protection of our liberty under our state constitution than under the U.S. Constitution.  Those rights are at risk if special interest groups are allowed to start anew.  The Alabama Constitution has been recompiled article by article.  We supported that method.  The following must always be protected in our Constitution:

  • Balanced budget requirements that allow no deficit spending
  • A ban on increase of property or income taxes without a referendum of the people
  • Religious liberty protections
  • A ban on the expansion of gambling in the state.

Senator Jeff Sessions: “The Supreme Court Has Become a Supreme Legislature”

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court’s order to change the marriage laws in the 50 states:

“The Supreme Court has become a Supreme Legislature. They have not only rewritten the laws of the 50 United States, but have redefined a sacred and ancient institution. The Framers provided only two means of amending the Constitution: an amendment must be proposed through either a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate or a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the states, and either must then be ratified by three-fourths of the states. They did not authorize judges to amend the Constitution. Five judges have neither the moral nor legal authority to decide for themselves that the heritage which gave birth to our nation should be supplanted with their own fleeting views of contemporary events.

 

Read the rest of Senator Sessions’ statement here.