Nullification vs. Constitutional Convention

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
03/21/2014
       
Nullification vs. Constitutional Convention

With the U.S. Constitution being disregarded by every branch of the federal government, the solution is for voters and state legislators to enforce it, not revise it.

Every day, the federal government — Congress, the president, and the courts — passes and protects acts that are unconstitutional and deprive Americans of our most basic rights.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) denies due process rights to anyone detained by the president on suspicion of being a threat to national security. The act also declares the United States to be a battleground in the “War on Terror.”

Using the unconstitutional Patriot Act as legal justification, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court) regularly rubber stamps the National Security Agency’s (NSA) dragnet surveillance activities, robbing Americans of the rights protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Those same protections will soon face another threat, as thousands of government-controlled drones very soon will begin buzzing over the domestic skies.

For its part, ObamaCare is a frontal assault on the Bill of Rights, forcing Americans to choose between following their faith and breaking the law, a direct defiance of the First Amendment.

In the name of safety, President Obama has issued over two dozen executive orders preventing Americans from accessing the right that protects all others: the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.

Federal spending and debt are ballooning — a consequence of the federal government interjecting itself into myriad areas where it has no constitutional authority. For example, there is not a single syllable in the Constitution providing for foreign aid ($74 billion spent from 2010-2011), undeclared wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (nearly $4 trillion spent since 2001), or the 185 federal welfare programs (nearly $2 trillion spent from 2010-2011). In the past decade, based on just those three examples alone, Congress has authorized the spending of over $6 trillion for unconstitutional purposes!

The above is just a sampling of a long list of abuses of the Constitution that have awakened many to the fact that something must be done to rein in a runaway federal government. But what? Many who agree on the problem disagree on the solution. Many want to call a new constitutional convention — or as some prefer to call it, a “convention of the states” — for the purpose of changing the Constitution to restore good government. Many others advocate state nullification of unconstitutional federal acts as a safer and surer way of pushing back against the federal assault.

Who’s right? To determine the answer, let’s survey both approaches.

The Constitutional Convention Approach

The power to call a constitutional convention is enumerated in Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which states that Congress, “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments.”

Well-known “conservative” talk-show hosts Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck have all come out in favor of an Article V convention. Levin is leading the charge, having written a popular book promoting this option. In The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic, he argues: “We, the people, through our state legislatures — and the state legislatures, acting collectively [through the Article V convention process] — have enormous power to constrain the federal government, reestablish self-government, and secure individual sovereignty.” Levin then devotes most of the space in his book to presenting his case for 11 different constitutional amendments he’d like to see proposed by a convention and then submitted to the states for ratification.

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