Wednesday, December 18, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Monthly GMOM meeting at the Episcopal Cathedral, in Charles Village, Baltimore.
Featuring Richard Striner on Constitutional Amendments and Bad Supreme Court Rulings
RSVP at the Facebook Event Page.
Richard Striner Ph.D., an acclaimed American historian will provide a broad historical perspective to the contemporary movement for a Fair Elections Amendment, and how this can result in tremendous societal change. Historical events, including the circumstances resulting in the Thirteenth Amendment, provide the most powerful and convincing precedent for our movement. Past constitutional amendments, constitutional interpretation, and challenges to bad Supreme Court rulings, and how they inform current efforts in Maryland and the U.S, will be reviewed.
Dr. Striner is professor of history at Washington College whose books and articles span history, economics and politics. A regular guest on the Mid Day Show on WYPR with Dan Rodricks, and a regular contributor to the New York Times “Opinionator” blog, he is known for engaging presentation, and receives top evaluations from students every year.
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PHONE BANK PARTIES
RALLY IN ANNAPOLIS
Progress in Maryland
- Respected Senator Jamie Raskin will introduce a resolution calling for an Article V Convention of the States
- Ways and Means Chair Sheila Hixson will provide strong support in the House of Delegates
Another way to amend the Constitution
GMOM (Get Money Out – Maryland) is working to get the Maryland legislature to pass a joint resolution formally calling for a Convention of the States (or "Article V Convention"), as a means to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution for free and fair elections and overturning ‘Citizen's United,’ When two thirds of the states do likewise, the convention must be convened. 'Citizens United' is the disastrous 2010 Supreme Court decision which ruled that corporations cannot be limited in the amount they spend on elections, because of their "constitutional right" of "free speech," as if they were people. States calling for a convention (for the purpose of proposing amendments) is the key, as spelled out in Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
We feel this is more fruitful than trying to get Congress to propose such an amendment in the traditio
nal manner. A dozen or more states have already passed this type of resolution which merely say that Congress should propose an amendment, without calling for a convention. Congress is free to ignore that type of resolution and that is exactly what it has done: ignored them. It is hard to imagine that an institutionally corrupt Congress could ever propose an amendment for fundamental reform of political corruption itself. All federal legislators won their seats by raising extraordinary sums from special interests in a corrupt system. Sadly, we have already lost our democracy on the federal level. But state legislatures are still responsive to the democratic process. At this point, only states can get us this kind of amendment, by calling for a convention, which then must be convened, bypassing Congress. The convention is key.
The first state resolution calling for an Article V Convention was introduced less than two years ago, in 2011 in California. Now, a dozen states have pending legislation, and approximately twenty others are in the process of developing this type of resolution: calling for a convention to propose amendments. The people, through their state legislatures, have the power to amend the constitution by calling for a convention, thus bypassing Congress.
(An amendment to the U. S. constitution is needed since any legislative means of limiting corporate election spending is now considered to be unconstitutional).
Two ways to propose an amendment:
There are only two ways to propose a constitutional amendment. One is an amendment proposed by Congress. But Congress is funded by special interests, is universally recognized as institutionally corrupt, has a 7% approval rating, and was not able to pass something as basic as the Disclose Act, which essentially says "Please just tell us who's bribing you."
The other way is through state legislatures, which are much closer to the people, and have the power to fix our democracy by calling for an Article V Convention.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution:
The framers took special care to ensure that no branch of government could ever attain unchecked power. They anticipated and prepared for the possibility that Congress might go off course and need correction by the people themselves. For that, they gave us Article V, which gives the people the right, through their state legislatures, to call for an Article V Convention (or, "Convention of the states") to propose amendments to the constitution. Article V is a core component of the constitution, meant to be used when our federal legislators no longer represent us, and that time is now.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress....
Who does the constitution belong to? Congress, or the people?
The selling point that made ratification of our constitution possible in 1791 was the promise that States would have ultimate authority over Congress in proposing and ratifying amendments. This principle appeals to conservatives, tea partiers, libertarians, independents and progressives. Only by working across the political spectrum can We the People hope to win against entrenched special interests and enormously powerful corporations.
Not to worry about a “Runaway Convention”
Some worry about a so-called “runaway convention” that might propose a wild, irresponsible amendment. First, an Article V Convention would have no more power to propose amendments than Congress already has. The need for ratification by three fourths of the states would clearly prevent any “runaway” amendments from being proposed or ratified. This has never been a problem in the hundreds of state constitutional conventions, to develop state constitutions, that have already been held in the U.S. It is possible to limit the convention to the issue of Citizens United and corporate personhood. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "Constitutional Convention," but actually it is an “Article V Convention” or "Convention of the states" who’s purpose is limited to proposing amendments on a specific topic (as specified by the states).
The Article V Convention process has been used many times
Just the threat of an Article V Convention may be the most effective way to motivate Congress to directly propose meaningful amendments. Four times in history, Congress has proposed amendments (which were later ratified) only after state legislatures voted for an Article V Convention for each of these issues. In order to forestall a Convention, Congress then proposed these amendments directly. We won the 17th Amendment (for direct election of Senators) in 1913 when we were within one state of the two thirds needed to call for a Convention. Also, Congress proposed the 21st amendment (repeal of prohibition), 22nd amendment (term limits for the President), and 25th amendment (clarifies Presidential succession), only after many state legislatures had called for an Article V Convention for each of these issues.
Get involved with fellow Marylanders:
Maryland has a lot of supportive state legislators, and we are optimistic that a bill for an Article V Convention will be introduced in the 2014 General Assembly Session. We are poised to become one of the first states to formally call for an Article V Convention – for free and fair elections. Call Get Money Out - Maryland at 410-849-0670. Also, please visit the Google Group for Maryland and just say 'Hi' so we know you're out there. Or e-mail us at admin@GetMoneyOutMD.org.