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Why states can’t prevent a runaway convention

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By Publius Huldah at Renew America

The danger of an Article V convention (which made James Madison “tremble,” caused Alexander Hamilton “dread,” and Chief Justice John Jay to say that another convention would impose an “extravagant risque“) is this: the delegates to the convention can run away: instead of proposing amendments to our existing Constitution, they can write a completely new Constitution with a new – and easier – mode of ratification. 1

The convention lobby implicitly acknowledges this danger when they say State Legislatures should pass “unfaithful delegate” laws to control delegates. 2

Accordingly, Wyoming passed a delegate law earlier this year which purports to empower the WY Legislature to “immediately recall” any delegate who makes an “unauthorized vote” at the convention, and to charge with a felony any delegate who fails to follow the WY Legislature’s instructions on what he may do at the convention. The Texas delegate law purports to make “invalid” any “unauthorized vote” at the convention, and to empower the TX Legislature to recall any delegate who violates his instructions. But Tennessee takes the cake with its delegate law: Not only does the TN law purport to “void” votes cast at the convention by TN delegates which are outside the instructions or limits placed on the delegates by the TN Legislature – and then to prosecute such delegates for a felony; the TN law also asserts that if all TN delegates vote or “attempt to vote” outside the scope of the instructions or limits, TN’s previously filed applications for an Article V convention are to be treated as “having no effect at all.” Other States have passed similar laws.

Such laws are contrary to our founding principles and are based on false assumptions. Accordingly, they are unenforceable and ineffective.

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