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Early last session, my friend Sen. Steve Halloran passed Legislative Resolution 14. This was Nebraska’s application to Congress to call a convention of the states for proposing amendments to the federal constitution. Nebraska became the seventeenth state to pass this resolution. Since last January, the West Virgina and South Carolina legislatures have passed this resolution bringing the total to nineteen states. Six other state legislatures have passed the measure in one chamber, including our neighbors Iowa and South Dakota. Two-thirds of the states (34) must pass the resolution for the convention to be called.
Article five of the US constitution provides two ways to propose amendments to the federal constitution. Two-thirds of both the house and the senate can propose an amendment, or two-thirds of the States in a convention can do so. In either case, three-fourths (38) of the States must ratify the amendment before it becomes part of the constitution. This safeguard applies equally to both methods. Thirty-three amendments have been proposed in the history of the country. Twenty-seven of these proposed amendments have been ratified by the States. The article five process clearly works.
The second part of article five was written on the next to the last day of the constitutional convention. As the delegates read the final draft of the Constitution, Colonel George Mason of Virginia was worried. Article five in the final draft only had the two-thirds of congress method to propose amendments. He argued;
“Col Mason thought the plan of amending the Constitution exceptionable & dangerous. As the proposing of amendments is in both the modes to depend, in the first immediately, in the second, ultimately, on Congress, no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.” (See Madison’s notes 15 Sep 1787). His colleagues agreed. The two-thirds of the State’s method was then added into article five without debate on a unanimous vote of the delegates.
Americans have watched, with increasing alarm, the horrific events our country has suffered these last two years. Eight months of riots burning American cities. Record inflation. A daily invasion crossing our southern border. Over one hundred thousand Americans dead from fentanyl brought in by international criminal cartels. Trillions of dollars of wealth have disappeared just this year from American’s retirement savings, and scores of Americans continue to be held without bail in solitary confinement for misdemeanor charges from the January 6th protest at the US Capitol. On top of everything else, our congress has voted to give over $50 billion dollars in printed money, that Americans yet unborn will have to pay back, to the war in Ukraine. This throws fuel on the inflation fire here at home and escalates tensions with a nuclear-armed Russia whose leader is not right in the head.
Colonel George Mason of Virginia was absolutely correct to be worried about the federal government he and his fellow countrymen had just created becoming “oppressive.” It has become unmoored from the constitution. Its proper role can only be restored by the states. Thank the lord the framers had the wisdom to make sure and include in the constitution the power the states need to secure the blessings of liberty and save our country. Nineteen states have recognized this pressing need. I pray the remaining fifteen states reach this conclusion swiftly.
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