The Convention of States, an organization run by Parler interim CEO Mark Meckler, tacitly admitted that an Article V constitutional convention cannot be limited by states.
Last Wednesday, Kansas Senators debated SCR 1611, a motion that would have violated the state’s own constitution. The resolution, brought forward by Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, would have called for an Article V constitutional convention, despite the fact such a move would require a two-thirds majority to be successfully passed in the Kansas legislature, as required by Article 2 Section 13 of the Kansas constitution. The motion, when voted on, eventually failed, 21-19.
The Convention of States, an organization chaired by current interim CEO of Parler, Mark Meckler, fully backed the resolution, as they claimed that the Kansas Constitution, was, in fact, unenforceable, due to the fact that it “attempts to impose restrictions on the right of the legislature to call” an Article V constitutional convention. Meckler, who traveled to Kansas to make the pitch to Kansas legislators, and who’s Convention of States organization is pushing for the constitutional convention in order to seemingly implement mandatory balanced budgets in Congress and set term limits for federal officials, even claimed that Article 2 of the Kansas Constitution was “slipped in[to the document] without debate.”
National File has previously reported on the Convention of States and Meckler’s involvement within it, highlighting legal precedent that suggests the activists behind the Convention of States, by calling for an Article V constitutional convention, could open up a can of worms, “with states unable to control what a convention could and could not discuss, and nobody else having clear constitutional control over the convention.” Leftist organizations with close ties to globalist financier George Soros, such as Wolf PAC are also in favor of such a convention.
Despite reports from organizations such as the John Birch Society, and legal opinion from Chief Justice Warren Burger, the Convention of States has up until now fervently denied that such a convention could be become a “runaway” convention, and that any convention would have to be solely restricted to debating whatever topics the state legislatures had noted when bringing forward an application. Yet, the logic and precedent applied by Convention of States when attempting to pass SCR 1611, has tacitly admitted that any such restrictions could not apply.
Article 2, Section 13 of the Kansas State Constitution was created by the Kansas Legislature in 1974, and accepted into the constitution when 68% of Kansas voters ratified it. In legal arguments put forward by the Convention of States, this is therefore unconstitutional, as the people had an input into the process. In fact, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt even said in 2019 that such a power granted to the state legislature “cannot be constrained by the people of Kansas.” Speaking against the resolution, Kansas Senator Richard Hildebrand noted that, “We the People apparently don’t matter.”
A number of problems then result from this logic. First and foremost, the section of the state constitution was not created by the people, only ratified by them. It was not initiated by a ballot, unlike other states, and was, in fact, initially created and passed by the legislature, and only handed to the people later. Secondly, this also means that previous statements implying the motion was “slipped in,” were incorrect, given that it was voted upon at a grassroots level.
Furthermore, there is nothing in Article V of the constitution, regarding the calling of a convention, which demands a simple majority in the state legislature for calling a constitutional convention, if the legislature has decided to do so. There is also nothing in Article V which states that only amendments proposed by the legislatures at the time of calling for a convention would be acceptable. By the logic that you cannot create restrictions onto the powers of the legislature to require a simple majority, which is not explicit, you cannot also, as Convention of States claims, only hear previously demanded amendments at a constitutional convention.
In fact, there is historical precedent for doing so, as Hildebrand argued in his speech. The convention at which the Constitution was created at the end of the 18th century was only meant to be for amending the Articles of Confederation, the original uniting document of the country, but the entire constitution was rewritten. The Federalists, Hildebrand noted, who controlled the media at the time, were able to push their Papers out towards the country and gain acceptance for their new constitution, unlike the Anti-Federalists, whose arguments were forgotten and ignored.
Since its founding, the Convention of States has repeatedly argued that the convention will be limited, and thus, is the perfect opportunity for conservatives to amend the Constitution in a bid to restore a limited government. However, the Kansas Campaign for Liberty points out that this attempt to overturn Kansas’s ability to limit how it calls the convention effectively suggests that the Convention of States also cannot be limited by states. Even if all of this weren’t the case, SCR 1611 would have been a “brazen” violation of the Kansas State Constitution, according to the Kansas Campaign Liberty. In a statement, John Axtell, the organization’s coordinator, argued that the Convention of States claims there will be “rules” to govern an Article V constitutional convention, “but they are breaking every rule that gets in their way”:
“Sadly, members of the Kansas Senate are likely planning to go along with this scheme to violate the Kansas Constitution! These Kansas State Senators could even be willing to violate the very Constitution they swore under God to support just to pass this resolution,” wrote Axtell. “Their scheme shows the Convention of States idea to be what it really is – a horrible scheme, working against your liberties.”
“They say there will be ‘rules’ and ‘procedures’ that will be followed during a Convention of States, but they will brazenly violate the Kansas Constitution to get their way,” Axtell continued. “Their legal opinion on which their scheme is based even states that the Convention of States process ‘cannot be constrained by the people of Kansas!'”
Senator Hildebrand, who had been called a “traitor” for noting the dangers of an Article V constitutional convention, stressed that many supporters of a convention are “patriots” who “see a problem with the federal government,” but who could never answer certain questions regarding the convention, with the Convention of States and others arguing that “the court system is our problem… [but] their solution is to use that same court system to bypass and violate our Kansas state constitution.”