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A Letter to the ASL

By       Message John De Herrera       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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No one wants to add insult to injury, but without careful consideration, ASL currently has the potential to do just that, and in a worst possible way.

The injury we're talking about is what the US Congress is inflicting upon the American public in disallowing it a non-binding deliberative assembly, to find common ground past the gridlock of corporate politicians.

I've followed your group since its inception and have seen a video where a member congratulates other ASL members on a great day of work, so I write this as a friend who has been at this issue since 2001. In that time I've researched and have seen a lot of groups come and go, but ASL is the latest and greatest, and I mean that objectively/historically, going back to the 1960s. This group truly has the power to bring about America's first convention post-ratification of the Constitution, but let's not forget, ASL members are caught in the same web of corporate Repub/Dem money, and the Article V Convention is the antithesis of that status quo. So if ASL is going to bring it, it better be swiftly and without error.

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In part of continuing activism I was involved in a recent email exchange with COS/CFA administrators, university professors, ALEC contractors, and others, and we went round in the same circles: the questions of how many applications, how many valid, and if enough, how do delegates become delegates, and who makes rules for them and the convention?

As an ASL member your reaction is that because the Constitution is silent on such questions and government has never answered them, ASL is taking them on, on behalf of the states and the people. The US Congress is denying the right to proposal and ASL is coming to their aid in working to bring a convention into being. If so, caveat: the problem has always been the same--getting the Congress to participate in order for the process to achieve legitimacy in the eyes of the public at large. Unless the public deems it official Congress will be allowed to continue to do what it has always done, pretend the alternate mode of proposal does not exist, and turn its back on all efforts and applications.

Whether an ASL member or just an average citizen, one must first answer the following question: Should the convention operate under the same rules and laws that bind the US Congress in the same process? Until answered, one is everywhere and nowhere on the issue, which is precisely where the Congress wishes the discussion to remain--everywhere and nowhere--a sort of national phantasm.

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The correct answer is Yes, the Article V Convention must be bound by the same rules and laws that bind the Congress because everyone involved in the process must be equally protected. For instance the American public and members of Congress must be protected that delegates are allowed no more or no less power to propose than the Congress. In other words, the phrase "just like Congress" answers any operational question one might have about the convention process because it aligns it with what already constitutionally exists and is therefore most likely to be deemed legitimate by the public.

Because the convention is a two-part process--that of proposal by delegates, and that of ratification by the people--it means that ultimately the entire process is in the hands of the people. In that case it doesn't matter what the delegates discuss and propose because the final word is a super-majority of the people acting through their state legislatures. Therefore any arbitrary attempt to limit and/or rescind an application is an act against the people because it's an action against a part of a process that exists entirely for their benefit.

In terms of the rule of law the Constitution places no terms or conditions on an application, so as far as it's concerned, all that matters is an application has been cast. This also falls in line with the spirit of the law, i.e. there will always be politicians and others attempting to create uncertainty about them as a way to prevent the process from moving forward--which is where we are and always have been, and why ASL is growing. Again, if the convention is for the people and their right to find common ground when government falters, then of course there's no reason to limit applications or discussions. Besides, disallowing fellow Americans to discuss/propose what they believe the best amendment moving forward is as bad as Congress disallowing a convention.

As you may or may not know, Friends of the Article V Convention (FOAVC) has within the past few years created the first-ever database of applications currently on record. The record--which itself is part of the Constitution as it mandates both houses maintain records--show that the convention call is long overdue. I was part of a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court in 2006 about this where the Congress, represented by the Solicitor General, was forced to hold the position that regardless of existing applications, it would not issue the call as required. So what does this mean to ASL? It means if we cannot get the US Congress to participate in the process it will do what to date it's always done and will simply ignore ASL, whereby it will be unable to achieve legitimacy in the eyes of the people. Case in point, earlier this year there was hub-bub in mainstream news and Facebook feeds talking about Michigan becoming the thirty-fourth state to cast an application. Have you heard/seen signal that Congress is looking into the matter? More proof that unless ASL gets Congress to count existing applications the effort fails. It also means that if ASL orchestrates something outside the rule of law--along the lines of COS/CFA, and ignoring the part Congress plays in the process--it will add insult to injury because ASL will have deviated from the Constitution and the rule of law and will have fallen to the level of Congress when there is no reason to, and when such a plan actually plays into the hands of Congress.

Why be involved in such an effort? Because the US Congress is inflicting harm upon the American public and you and me are part of it, and so are our families, as will be grandkids and great grandkids. There are a number of things about American history that politicians do not talk about, not because they don't want to, but because they can't, because doing so would alter how we citizens see and think about our government. The flip side of that means if enough of us become cognizant and desiring of something, Congress will have no choice but to comply. A paper put out by the Congressional Research Service (subsequently updated April 2014) confirms this when it states that if enough Americans want a convention Congress will have to call it. That the paper has been updated since it was first delivered to Congress is significant; it means there is movement in the halls of power. Congress may not be talking about it, but they are clearly aware of the growing interest in Article V and that the negative/false myths surrounding it no longer hold up like they did in previous decades.

There has been much work leading up to this and ASL has arrived at the perfect moment. The question is, are they in it to win it, or are they going to add insult to injury? Unless we're talking about a different Earth, a different USA, a different Constitution, and a different history surrounding Article V, there is no other way to move forward properly and effectively. Luckily the facts are on our side and all ASL has to do is state the truth: The convention is a two-part process in the hands of a supermajority of the people, entirely guided by the constitutional principle of equal protection under the law, and in order to adhere to the rule of law, we as a society must first begin with a count of existing applications by the Congress. ASL then raises awareness of this to where a tipping point is achieved and Congress is compelled to obey the law and make a count. From there the process will produce consensus in the form of proposals, and consensus again in the form of constitutional amendments--which is how we as a people are meant to live and prosper while at the same time preserving the light of freedom for all.

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Writer/artist/activist from California, with a degree in Creative Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Advocating for the convention clause of Article V since 2001.

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