Academic journal article Albany Law Review

A Case against a Convention of the States

Academic journal article Albany Law Review

A Case against a Convention of the States

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

Nine of the original thirteen states ratified the Constitution of the United States of America in 1788. (1) Nearly two hundred and thirty years later, it is the oldest "charter of government" still governing its people; (2) the next oldest is Norway's Constitution, enacted in 1814. (3) The U.S. Constitution's ratification followed the American Revolution, a conflict that happened because England's King George and Parliament treated the colonies like an illegitimate child, taxing them as a means of paying for the British Empire's many forays into foreign lands and not granting the colonists representation in Parliament--thus disallowing the colonists to have a say in how their taxes were spent. (4) There were other usurpations to which natural-born Englishmen were entitled due to birthright, tantamount to a denial of equal protection of the laws under post-Constitution America. (5) It is, therefore, a Constitution that emerged from trial by fire, vulcanized by the heat of righteous revolution insulated and protected by the Teflon-hard blood of patriots.

The Constitution has survived the ravages of a Civil War fought over the rights of southern states to retain slaves to work their plantations, wrongheaded wars with neighboring nations, two world wars, a cold war that included two "hot" ones in Korea and Vietnam, two Persian Gulf wars, an ongoing war against terror, and many cultural revolutions spurred by the Constitution's protections against discrimination and the government's suppression of civil rights. How could our Constitution endure for so many years?

II. A CASE AGAINST A CONVENTION OF THE STATES

A. If You Want a Constitution That Spans Generations, Better to Have Brilliant and Successful Revolutionaries Writing It Than Smart, Spoiled Brats

The forty founding fathers who wrote the Constitution were brilliant--all of them, not just one or two. Among them were George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. (6) Almost all fought in the American Revolution. (7) More impressive was the diversity of the founders' life experiences; few were "career" politicians. (8) Specifically:

* Thirty-five were lawyers, although not all practiced the law as a career. (9) Several were judges. (10)

* Thirteen--Blount, Broom, Clymer, Dayton, Fitzsimons, Gerry, Gilman, Gorham, Langdon, Robert Morris (as opposed to Governor Morris), Pierce, Sherman, and Wilson--worked in business, shipping, or as merchants. (11) Six--Blount, Dayton, Fitzsimons, Gorham, Robert Morris, and Wilson--worked in major land speculation. (12) Eleven--Bedford, Blair, Clymer, Dayton, Fitzsimons, Franklin, King, Langdon, Robert Morris, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and Sherman--were securities speculators. (13) Twelve--Bassett, Blair, Blount, Butler, Carroll, Jenifer, Mason, Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Rutledge, Spaight, and Washington--owned farms or plantations. (14)

* Franklin, McHenry, and Mifflin were "retired from active economic endeavors." (15) Franklin and Williamson were also engaged in scientific pursuits. (16) The physicians in the group were McClurg, McHenry, and Williamson, (17) and Johnson served as president of a university. (18) As far as spiritual ventures were concerned, Baldwin was a former minister, (19) while at least Williamson, Madison, and Ellsworth had not been ordained but had studied some theology. (20)

* Washington and Robert Morris were wealthy, (21) as were a few others--Carroll, Houston, Jenifer, and Mifflin. (22)

* Baldwin, Blair, Brearly, Gilman, Jenifer, Livingston, Madison, and Rutledge were the only nine out of forty to receive much income from serving in public office. (23)

Suffice to say that successful men masterminded a Constitution intended to preserve the freedoms in which they believed, thanks to real-life experience, and one that enabled them and their posterity to live free, personally and economically, into the foreseeable future and beyond. …

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