Letter | Options underway to amend U.S. Constitution

The S.C. House and Senate are considering bills to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution, specifically H 4372 and S0833.

These are believed necessary because our national government’s leaders continue to amass greater and greater power to our national government so that its powers are out-of-control. The unalloyed current system is not adequate to correct this.

In fact the current system rewards those who seek not to work for the benefit of the nation but rather to maintain their power indefinitely. Re-election gives such people greater and greater power to control our electoral process so they can do so. Motivated knowledgeable people have become powerless to change the situation within the current system.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides two ways to propose Amendments to the constitution. One way is “whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary.” The other is upon “the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several states.”

The movement to amend the constitution in the second way is underway in 12 states, each using the exact same words as needed for constitutionally requiring congress, by its Article V to “call a Convention for proposing Amendments.” This is due to the 2013 Convention of the States [2013 COS] organization’s remarkable one year effort.

The 2013 COS wording used in their legislature applications and before the South Carolina House and Senate sub-committees provides for that with the operative words:

“The legislature of the State of ______ hereby applies to Congress, under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States, for the calling of a convention of the states limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”

Some Americans are concerned that this wording, in itself, would not adequately protect against an out-of-control convention in which delegates and their elected chairman could totally change the government beyond simply limiting its powers and the terms of office of its officials. Other Americans believe this wording is amply restrictive and yet would allow multiple highly desirable amendments such as those suggested by Mark Levin and quoted in the GIAC2002.org Web site. To access these within a more comprehensive overall article too long for here -- on that site’s home page, click the “Amending the Constitution” link in the far left menus under “National Resources.”

Petitions to congress by citizens or legislatures for it to propose individual amendments along lines such as Levin or others suggest is the other constitutional way to attempt to get amendments.

An ideal single compound amendment could be to provide for recall of federal government officials in the administrative, legislative and congressional branches and limit the time of each in office to 12 years or a single term, whichever is less.

The single amendment approach requires a two-to-one vote of the two bodies of congress before presenting an amendment for voter approval. It is extremely unlikely that congress would vote so overwhelming for any amendment that diminishes the power it has garnered.

So a single amendment approach with at least some chance of passage might be to provide for recall of a president and vice president as this would not affect the power of congress. It would in fact help protect congressional power against an overreaching executive branch. This approach has historic precedent in the congressional limiting of presidential terms to two.

However unlikely the successes of single amendment approaches that depend on congressional action have, they do not have any risks that could conceivably result for an out of control convention.

Of course, congress could be petitioned for both single independent amendments separately and in combination with a 2013 COS application.

The writer lives in Surfside Beach.