Over two years since he lost his reelection bid former President Trump continues to beat the drum that the election was stolen from him. Earlier this month he wrote on social media that the “fraud” allows for “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” This is obviously not true but it got me thinking.
When the Constitution was ratified in 1789 it allowed for future amendments in Article V. There are two ways it can be done: A proposed amendment that is passed by a 2/3 majority of both houses of Congress and then ratified by the state legislators in 3/4 of the states becomes an amendment. This how it’s always been done.
But the authors of the Constitution also recognized that there may be a point where Congress refuses to act and they allowed for another method: Two thirds of the state legislatures can call for a Constitutional convention to consider amendments. This has never been done, but it is allowed.
So here’s the Constitutional question: if there is another Constitutional convention, can they only propose new amendments or can they scrap existing parts of the Constitution? There is a precedent for repealing amendments: the 18th amendment instituted prohibition (of alcohol) and the 20th amendment repealed it. But no part of the Constitution itself has ever been repealed.
Some Constitutional scholars believe that the convention can only deal with the amendments but others disagree. Those who disagree point out that the original Constitutional convention was meant only to amend the previous Articles of Confederation. But once the framers began to meet they understood that the Articles of Confederation needed to be scrapped and they needed to start over. If you’ve never heard of the Articles of Confederation (and most Americans haven’t) you can read about it here. They hold that this can happen again.
Now imagine the parts of the Constitution that you hold most dear: freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, etc. Is that what you really want? I imagine not. I also don’t think that’s what Mr. Trump wants, but he seems to think he can control every process. Fortunately he can’t.
Seriously, Mr. Trump: call me. Teaching you how our nation works won’t be easy but I’m willing to give it a try.