A letter demanding an official tabulation of State legislature applications for a convention to propose amendments as prescribed in Article V of the Constitution just arrived at the Office of the Speaker of the House for John Boehner. As international observation may be required to determine if elections are being managed correctly, we reached out to internationally known whistle blowers, Karen Hudes, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Carl Robert Gibson, and Hörður Torfason to observe how Congress handles their duty to call a convention once two-thirds of the states apply. After 238 years of application by State legislatures it is “arguable”, as the Congressional Research Service described, that States reached the threshold to trigger a convention call which Congress should have no authority to refuse.
In recent years, we discovered the flaw in the process was not the inaction or incorrect action of States but Congress’ ability to ignore those applications by avoiding the count. Both houses of Congress neglected to assign the duty to track these applications to any entity in the government. If Congress never knows the number has been reached, they are not obligated to call the convention. It is like a race where the runners can never see the finish line. We learned from conversations with Thomas Neale of the Congressional Research Service that in the 1970s there were 22 bills submitted to create new statutes for the Article V processes, including assigning the duty to the Clerk of House, but they all failed.
On April 15th, 2013 our group, ArticleV.org mailed an official request for a tally of these applications on record to the Clerk of House, Karen Haas after being instructed by House Parliamentarian, Tom Wickham how to submit this request for the first time in US history. More than a year has passed since Congress received the request, although the Speaker of the House John Boehner had submitted the request to the Judiciary Committee for consideration, as you might guess, I am unaware of any plans to discuss this in the agenda in the committee anytime soon.
However Bill Walker of FOAVC.org brought it to my attention that when the Speaker made the request for the report, it should have been directed to the Clerk of House, where we originally sent the letter, and not to a committee according to House Rule 2 (j) which specifies that,
In addition to any other reports required by the Speaker…the clerk shall report to the Committee on House Administration…
In case this was misdirected, in all fairness this would be the first time this process has ever tried to function, we needed to notify the Speaker of the House, Parliamentarian, and Clerk of House. There is a conflict of interest when Congress considers calling a convention or merely counting these applications. It requires oversight that our domestic media has so far failed to devote any time to.
The shrinking ability of Congress to ignore these applications was exacerbated by the State of Michigan as they declared they are the 34th state and final state needed to trigger the convention and the request to the Speaker by Rep. Duncan Hunter for a tabulation of the applications Michigan acknowledged.
So what is my hurry if the pressure is building? First, it should not take so long. If all else fails Congress can verify by inquiry with the state of origin. That would take about a few days, certainly not a year.
Secondly, this matter was never meant to be deliberated by members of Congress. ”Congress shall have ‘no vote, debate or committee’ regarding state applications” once the proper number of states has been presented. Along with our original request we presented 42 scanned copies of the applications of 42 states (34 states would trigger a convention) which we believe are legal and still standing today.
Third, our country is begging to change this system, a long train of abuses and usurpations is reducing the People to absolute despotism. We need to revive OUR Constitution.
Lastly there are attempts to insure that states will puppet the delegates. Last month Florida became the 4th state to outlaw an election of delegates to a convention to propose amendments, and took away the right to deliberate as a delegate. “If a delegate does not follow those instructions, their vote would be voided and their appointment to the convention would be forfeited. They also could be charged with a third-degree felony.” The media failed to point out this process would cancel an election.
Wisconsin legislators are also looking at model legislation from ALEC that, “2. Prohibits Delegates from Attending a Convention for Proposing Amendments if Congress Mandates Proportional Representation.”
As a matter of fact, Congress has already mandated an election of delegates. Some legislators in Wisconsin hate the idea that the People may actually elect delegates:
(2) the term ‘election’ means—
(E) the election of delegates to a constitutional convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States or of any State; and
Unfortunately We the People cannot be magnanimous or patient about Congress’ pace to fulfill their duty under Article V. We do not have the luxury of time when powers that be rig this process before it is called. The right to alter, or to abolish is a real thing. It belongs to We the People. States will have final say in the ratification process. Nothing will be amended to the Constitution without the consent of 38 or 75% of the states. That is an action that would reflect the republican model of government in every respect because it represents an authentic act of the whole people.
The main problem with state applications specifying exact language is the objection that a convention called to consider a predetermined amendment would, in effect, become part of the ratifying process. …an attempt by the various State legislatures to force Congress to call a convention which can only act mechanically to approve or disapprove a specific amendment. The attempt is to make the convention merely an initial step in the ratifying process instead of a deliberative meeting to seek out solutions to a problem. The word ‘propose’ cannot be stretched to mean ‘ratify’. The Congress cannot properly accept and become part of any prepackaged effort to short cut the amendment process. –Senator Robert F Kennedy
Here is the text of our letter this week:
To the offices of:
Speaker of the House, John Boehner
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
US House Parliamentarian, Tom Wickham
H-209 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Clerk of US House, Karen Haas
U.S. Capitol, Room H154
Washington, DC 20515–6601
July 22nd, 2014
RE: Request sent to Clerk of House Karen Haas by Dan Marks for verification and tabulation of applications from state legislatures for an Article V convention to propose amendments
We are writing today in regards to the April 15, 2013 request sent to Clerk of House Karen Haas by Dan Marks for verification and tabulation of applications from state legislatures for an Article V convention to propose amendments.
In light of the recent and similar request by the Honorable Duncan Hunter from California to the Speaker of the House for a tabulation of States applications for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment as well as the claim made by the state of Michigan that they are the 34th state to apply for a balanced budget amendment; we also discovered a possible inadvertent error in process when the Speaker of the House referred our request to the Judiciary Committee on Oct 24th, 2013.
Recently the Congressional Research Service agrees that a critical mass may have been reached, “the legislatures of Ohio, in November 2013, and Michigan, in March 2014, applied to Congress for an Article V Convention to consider a balanced federal budget amendment; these are the first new state applications since 1982 and are also the 33rd and 34th applications for the balanced budget amendment convention. If all 32 previous related state applications are valid, it is arguable that the constitutional requirement for requests from two-thirds of the states has been met, and that Congress should consider calling a convention.”
The Article V Convention to Propose Constitutional Amendments: Contemporary Issues for Congress by Thomas H. Neale, Specialist in American National Government https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=752285
Congressional Record Entry Oct 24th, 2013,
“PETITIONS, ETC. Under clause 3 of rule XII, 55. The SPEAKER presented a petition of Dan Marks, Hilo, HI, relative to a letter regarding methods for proposing amendments; which was referred to the committee on the Judiciary.”
The Speaker’s presentation to the Judiciary Committee was improper and the request should have been directed back to the Clerk of House with the authority to tabulate these applications as a requirement under House Rule 2 (j) which specifies that “In addition to any other reports required by the Speaker…the clerk shall report to the Committee on House Administration…”
In addition, Dan Marks’ letter contained a tabulation and scanned copies of 42 applications from the Congressional Record for verification more than one year ago. Dan Marks has the right to assume a duty that is unassigned under the 10th Amendment which affords the People a right to assume powers that are not delegated. This collection of records should be simple to verify legally and by inquiry with the state of origin.
Legal Counsel to the Clerk of House, Kirk Boyle, clearly stated that the duty is not assigned and sent the request to the Speaker of the House.
“The Clerk has not been assigned the responsibility to tabulate State applications for an Article V convention by statute or the rules or precedents of the House. Accordingly, the Office of the Clerk is unable to fulfill your request.”
June 7th, 2013 letter from Kirk Boyle, Legal Counsel, Office of the Clerk to Dan Marks
This request should have never been sent to a committee which would have discretion over the applications of state legislatures. The lack of action on the part of the committee is sufficient proof to demonstrate why Congressman James Madison stated in the matter of a convention call Congress shall have “no vote, debate or committee.”
As shown by material already sent the Speaker, according to the May 5, 1789 Congressional Record Congressman James Madison (author of Article V at the 1787 convention) stated during discussion of how to process the first application for an Article V Convention by the state of Virginia received by the house that Congress shall have ‘no vote, debate or committee’ regarding state applications. A convention call (it was repeatedly stated) is based on the number of submitted applications by the states. The House that day agreed with Madison and voted to have all applications ‘lie on the table until a sufficient number of states shall have applied at which time Congress shall have no option’ on a call. Neither the house nor senate has ever altered the affect or effect of this vote. The states having long since satisfied the number needed for a call. We ask all applications be taken off the table and a count made of them by use of House Rule (2) j as there is no constitutional basis for the Speaker to do otherwise.
United States v. Sprague, 282 U.S. page 716 (1931), the Supreme Court stated:
The United States asserts that article 5 is clear in statement and in meaning, contains no ambiguity and calls for no resort to rules of construction. A mere reading demonstrates that this is true. It provides two methods for proposing amendments. Congress may propose them by a vote of two-thirds of both houses, or, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the States, must call a convention to propose them.
Since the Judiciary Committee failed to take action, the conditions to call a convention seem to have been met, and the process to verify the applications on record is otherwise non-existent; we formally demand the immediate tabulation of the applications on record from state legislatures by the Office of Clerk of House, Karen Haas as prescribed in House Rule 2 (j).
Dan Marks, President
William Walker, President
Friends of Article V Convention FOAVC.org
Law Offices of Karen Hudes
Carl Robert Gibson, Editor
Occupy.com (Media Observer)
Hörður Torfason (Intl. Observer)
Birgitta Jónsdóttir (Intl. Observer)
Member of Icelandic Parliament
Hörður Torfason & Birgitta Jónsdóttir
Iceland recently went through a peaceful revolution and replaced many of their leaders. They met in a constitutional convention and crowdsourced a new constitution that has the support of the people. I was personally thrilled that Iceland was demonstrating to the world that there is a new way to make systemic change and decentralize the power of the delegates.
Last year I was able to talk to Hörður Torfason about that experience and how we could apply those lessons to the struggles we have had in the US to regain our representation in government and restore the rights that get violated on the daily basis. Hörður and I stayed in contact since that interview and now Iceland is struggling after two years to get their popular constitution ratified. We are brothers in search of liberty and a better way of life for our nations.
I explained to Hörður how the situation here is not much better and that Congress still stonewalls the simple request for an official count of which states’ applications count and which do not because nearly every state has already applied. I asked Hörður to lend his voice to our cause and hopefully apply a little international pressure to keep Congress honest. Just to give you an idea of what a great person Hörður is, his friends told him not to sign this letter for the fear of what the US government would do to him. Since he knew Birgitta Jónsdóttir, I asked him to see if she was interested in signing the letter. Unsure of the position he might be in, he still presented the letter to Birgitta Jónsdóttir to consider. Thankfully I received a message from Hörður,
I have been thinking if I should sign the letter since it is way out of everything I usually do. But why not support each other? That´s what it´s all about. Yesterday I finally got hold of Birgitta and she agrees on signing it and so will I. –Hörður Torfason
Not long after the Speaker of the House submitted the request to the House Judiciary Committee, I woke up one day to hear news of someone in Washington D.C. giving Tom Wickham, the House Parliamentarian a hard time about a stalled request to count applications. It turned out to be Karen Hudes, Former Counsel for the World Bank and is now a globally known banking whistle blower and Acting General Counsel for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. I contacted her to let her know where things stood and that I appreciated her support for our action. She is desperate for the US to get control over the currency and avoid a collapse of a fiat currency.
I met Carl when he was organizing a march in Washington D.C. with US Uncut that will come to the aid of various causes. I had a chance to meet him in person last summer at the Democracy Convention in Madison, WI. Carl has a way of filling space and can make sure he gets heard when mainstream media tunes out some of his controversial subjects. He and US Uncut also added their name to a letter of support in the original request made on April 15th, 2014. Carl also authored the Huffington Post article 5 Ways the U.S. Can Have an Icelandic Revolution. He certainly understands the potential for change.
None of this would be possible without the work and research of Bill Walker and Friends of Article V Convention (FOAVC.org). Bill Walker was the person who discovered the possible error in the direction the committee as improper by House Rule 2(j). It seemed logical to let the House Parliamentarian take a look at this considering this is the first time Congress has ever tried to process this possibility.
He and his group also compiled the first database of the applications with their own private funding. Unfortunately Congress had not only neglected to count these applications, they never put them aside in “brackets” of any kind for future inventory. FOAVC hired independent researchers to sift through the Congressional Record and list these applications. The list came out to more than 500 applications made by 49 states. Our Inter-Occupy Article V work group in 2012 looked through that list and no matter what legal perspective we applied to it, we seemed to have more than enough applications. Our group concluded unanimously after weeks of discussion that:
We involved with Inter-Occupy Article V work group acknowledge the fact that the States have satisfied the required two-thirds numerical threshold to call for an Article V Convention under Article V of the US Constitution and Congress should call an Article V Convention to order.
It has been a long road from James Madison’s motion in 1789 to wait until the proper number of states have been presented to Congress. So many efforts that included the end of slavery and recently in states of Vermont and California calls for a repair of our corrupt campaign system. I hope an opportunity to create a new world like we once were comes soon. Our nation is painfully aware of how far astray we have gone in just the last 15 years. This is the moment our Founding Fathers spoke of when patriots would defend the republic and Constitution. It is our collective duty to use all legal means of change to defend the Constitution.