With great alarm and uneasiness, I read John Cheves’s Feb. 7 article “Movement to let states rewrite the U.S. Constitution comes to Kentucky” regarding the move afoot to attempt to trigger a constitutional convention as provided for under Article V of the United States Constitution.
Under the provisions of Article V, if 34 states pass a resolution calling for it, the states can convene their own constitutional convention instead of going the typical route through Congress.
As Boone Circuit Judge Rick Bruggemann writes, “To coin such a bluff as ‘risky’ is a towering achievement in the art of understatement. It’s a suicidal game of constitutional roulette.”
Proponents of an Article V “con-con” have all sorts of reasons for wanting to amend the Constitution — some good, some bad. However, it is important to note that an Article V constitutional convention is completely without precedent in the history of the U.S.
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More importantly, there is no constitutional formula to limit such a convention after it has been called. It could easily turn into a farcical free-for-all in which the final product could wind up disastrous.
The Constitution is what keeps us free. It is the greatest political document in the history of man, and it protects everyone under its sweeping and timeless safeguards. To unnecessarily tinker with it is a fool’s errand. Regardless of one’s personal ideologies it is unconscionable to alter the document for purposes of scoring cheap political points.
There is a normal, usual way of amending of the U.S. Constitution through the elected representatives of the people in the federal Congress in conjunction with ratification by state legislatures. It has been utilized 27 times since 1789. To attempt to bypass that tried and true way and to instead open a can of worms for which there is no precedent is a dangerous gamble indeed.
Any individual or group who attempts to allay the worst fears expressed by myself along with many others about any suggested controls on what could happen at an Article V “con-con” is deluded and is not being honest with themselves. The simple fact is that there are absolutely no limits on what could be added to or subtracted from our Constitution at such a gathering. Under such a scenario, there is no telling what could happen and what unfathomable damage could be done to our personal freedoms and individual liberties, let alone to the brilliance of one of the great achievements of man in the history of the world.
Bruggemann is exactly right, writing, “why should we trust anyone to remodel the work of the Founders? It isn’t worth the risk. Madison and Jefferson are not likely to be at a new convention. But even if they happened to be represented, by all indications they’ll be badly outnumbered.”
All Kentuckians — Democratic, Republican or Independent — should contact their state senators and representatives in Frankfort and urge them to oppose any resolution that calls for Kentucky to join a misguided chorus for an Article V constitutional convention. Our Constitution works, and long may its wisdom stand as a testament to the greatness of the American nation.
Larry Forgy of Lexington is a retired attorney and was the 1995 Republican nominee for Kentucky Governor.