"Let the End be Legitimate" – Against an Article V Convention

Nationalists at the 1787 convention claimed they were speaking for the People of the States (rather than their States separately,) and as such they were a higher power than the States, with full authority to dissolve or disregard the existing Constitution.  In fact, Alexander C. Hanson (son of former President John Hanson,) argued with "a [Maryland] Farmer" that the convention could not enact a bill of rights because they were acting as private individuals, "any of whom have a right to propose a Constitution to the Americans to adopt at their discretion…"   This mis-placement of authority was as critical as it remains audacious, for the same authority exists in any group claiming to represent the American People (including the previously-mentioned "Convention for Social Justice,") to convene and write a new Constitution, set their own rules for ratification, and  declare it adopted at any time.  As in 1787, such would be either an act of secession or treason—both of which are considered equivalent today, especially since the recent unpleasantness. 

Supporters of the usurpers will argue that Congress and the States all approved of violating the Constitution.  If so, then why didn't they just pass the amendments in keeping with Article XIII?  The answer is that then, just as now, the question was political rather than ethical.  Would anyone play fair and follow the law when their national ambitions were on the line?  Obama didn't in 2009; FDR didn't in 1936; Lincoln didn't in 1861; and Hamilton & co. certainly didn't in 1787.  The usurpers knew the votes they needed weren't in Congress & the State legislatures, where many who still understood the reasons for the Revolution sat in elected office.  They needed a total reset, and by creating a new convention with delegates they could control, the big-government Nationalists were able to outmaneuver the limited-government Anti-Federalists at each turn.  So complete was their defeat of Liberty that according to Luther Martin, Maryland ratified the Constitution while recommending absolutely no amendments as a condition, refusing to even allow the Minority of the State Convention to read their proposed amendments before the vote was taken. 

The second point where History is at odds with the Article V Apologists' view that the States were never sovereign is that after declaring independence (which at least 4 States did on their own before July 4th, 1776, the States were advised to draw up their own Constitutions, which they did by declaring themselves to be "Sovereign, Free, and Independent.")  The 1787 Constitution illegally strips the states of all these qualities, and leaves a mere a façade of federalism to the States, rendering them responsible only for menial administrative functions and completely nullifying their Bills of Rights wherever there is a conflict.  A State whose Bill of Rights is abridged lacks the legal authority to protect its people against federal encroachment.  The Supremacy Clause even made the National government undisputed master over the States.  Anti-Federalist Robert Yates (this time as "Brutus") writes in his 2nd letter on November 1, 1787:

…The powers, rights and authority, granted to the general government by this Constitution, are as complete, with respect to every object to which they extend, as that of any State government—it reaches to every thing which concerns human happiness—life, liberty, and property are under its control…

--Brutus, 1787

This brings to mind the "implied powers" doctrine, argued for by Alexander Hamilton and forced upon the States by Chief Justice John Marshall during the McCullough v. Maryland case.  Marshall's standard for a law being Constitutional was merely: "Let the end be legitimate, [and] let it be within the scope of the constitution…" Brutus makes it clear that there is nothing outside the scope of the Constitution, and Obamacare confirms this.  The only barrier for the government, therefore, is what the definition of "legitimate" is.  And since the Supreme Court has found even the murder of infants as a matter of convenience to be "legitimate," it is hard to imagine this government finding anything outside the scope of the central government's power!  It is utter fraud for the so-called "Constitutionalists" to insist as they do that on the one hand, the National government is one of limited powers, while at the same time asserting that it is Supreme over the States on delegated and un-delegated powers alike. Through implied powers, the National government can annex land, start a space program, draft you into the military, force you to fight its enemies, stop a farmer from growing wheat, force you to purchase health insurance or any other product, and fine or imprison you if you don't. 
Madison assured us that States would retain their sovereignty over powers not delegated, and today's conservatives have hinged their entire ideology on his forked-tongued promises.  Brutus shines the light upon this darkness. 

Learn more about your Constitution with Robert Broadus and the "Institute on the Constitution" and receive your free gift.

This is Part 4 in a series. Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 3 here.

Don't forget to Like Freedom Outpost on Facebook, Google Plus, & Twitter. You can also get Freedom Outpost delivered to your Amazon Kindle device here.

About Robert Broadus
Robert Broadus (aka Brutus) is a writer and course instructor for Institute on the Constitution, an educational outreach that presents the Founders’ American View of Law and Government. Broadus is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and as Navy Veteran he is not a Republican or a Democrat — he is an Anti-Federalist. Broadus hosted the East-Coast Anti-Federalist radio show on Liberty Works Radio, and was a candidate for the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives from the state of Maryland. Mr. Broadus has been an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), has campaigned to legislate an end to the personal income tax, and has fought for the preservation of our rights of conscience and religion. Robert has contributed to Fox News, AOL News, The New York Times, CBS, Rush Limbaugh Show, Washington Times, and more…

6 thoughts on “"Let the End be Legitimate" – Against an Article V Convention

  1. I find Mr. Broadus' Anti-Federalist views to be correct and not "revisionism", and I say this as one who supports a convention of the states to amend the Constitution (which is not necessarily the same thing as a constitutional convention).

    The Nationalists (as Mr. Broadus rightly terms them) did come to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 better organized and with a plan to dispense with the Articles of Confederation and create a new national government and constitution. Where Mr. Broadus and I likely disagree is that I would not consider the Articles of Confederation a "Constitution" (as he called it in his article above), but it was more of a treaty of cooperation between sovereign states, somewhat like the United Nations. In fact, a review of the history of that time will demonstrate that the Congress of that day and the States themselves operated much as the United Nation does today (and where are the conservatives who don't think the U.N. is a joke and would be opposed the U.S. withdrawing from it?). So the Founders did not junk the Constitution they already had because the Articles of Confederation were not a constitution.

    I do think Mr. Broadus and I might agree that the States were the most free when they first declared independence from Britain, and remained free when they joined together under the Articles of Confederation. They voluntarily gave up some of their freedoms when they accepted the Constitution, and have been giving up more and more of their rights and liberties ever since, with the Civil War, subsequent constitutional amendments, the New Deal, and by passively acquiescing to government violations. Given this trajectory, it is clear why one might fear that the People and the States will lose even more as the result of another Convention authorized to propose constitutional changes.

    I don't oppose a convention because I know that it's results, if there are any, would only be recommendations to the States that are not binding, and that would have to be ratified by 38 out of 50 States presently, a high bar indeed. It cannot alter the number of States needed to ratify their proposed changes because a strong national government (and millions of Americans firmly attached to this Constitution) stand ready to oppose such a coup d'etat, factors not present in the 1780s. Besides, as Glenn Beck has put it, if 38 States are willing to destroy the country through amendments, then we've lost the country already. What are we fighting to preserve if the system of government is already contrary to what the governed consent to?

  2. The Blue Tail Gadfly says:

    I find it odd that Robert Broadus (aka Brutus) writes and is a course instructor for the Institute on the Constitution when he has such disdain for both the Framers and Constitution.

    I hope they don't teach his Anti-Federalist revisionism there. So far the only thing I agree with him on is the dangers of a Constitutional Convention.

    Since he wishes to impugn James Madison's character, and repeat the same arguments that the Anti-Federalists made when first opposing the Constitution, I might as well c/p one of James Madison's rebuttals.

    "There are a number of opinions, but the principal question is whether it be a federal or a consolidated government.... I conceive myself that it is of a mixed nature; it is in a manner unprecedented; we cannot find one express example in the experience of the world. It stands by itself. In some respects it is a government of a federal nature; in others, it is of a consolidated nature. Even if we attend to the manner in which the Constitution is investigated, ratified, and made the act of the people of America, I can say, notwithstanding what the honorable gentleman [Patrick Henry] has alleged, that this government is not completely consolidated, nor is it entirely federal. Who are the parties to it? The people - but not the people as composing one great body, but the people as composing thirteen sovereignties. Were it, as the gentleman asserts, a consolidated government, the assent of a majority of the
    people would be sufficient for its establishment; and, as a majority have adopted it already, the remaining states would be bound by the act of the majority, even if they unanimously rejected it.... But, sir, no state is bound by it, as it is, without its own consent. Should all the states adopt it, it will be then a government established by the thirteen states of America, not through the intervention of the legislatures, but by the people at large. In this particular respect the distinction between the existing and the proposed
    governments is very material. The existing system has been derived from the dependent derivative authority of the legislatures of the states; whereas, this is derived from the superior power of the people.

    I wish this government may answer the expectation of its friends and foil the apprehension of its enemies. I hope the patriotism of the people will continue and be a sufficient guard to their liberties. I believe its tendency will be that the state governments will counteract the general interest and ultimately prevail." ~James Madison, Virginia Ratifying Convention

    • I find this line from Madison's arguments at the Virginia Ratifying Convention interesting: "But, sir, no state is bound by it, as it is, without its own consent." The "it" there, is the Constitution, and leads me to believe that on those grounds, a State should be allowed to secede from the United States if it no longer consents to be a part of the United States. (Sure, the War for Southern Independence was fought and lost and supposedly settled the question, but since when does might make right?)

    • The Blue Tail Gadfly says:

      Hi Publius II,

      In this case, I believe Madison is speaking in terms of ratifying the new constitution and thus joining the Union. They were to enter the compact of their own free-will. I haven't studied the subject of secession but as the Declaration of Independence rightfully points out:

      "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness],
      it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
      institute new Government..."

      When considering secession, it seems the question is whether it is the Form of Government which is destructive or if it is the unprincipled politicians who 'We the People' elected.

      "Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress. How wise will it be in them by cherishing the union to preserve to themselves an advantage which can never be too highly prized!" ~Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 28

      If a State secedes, the people of that State will lose that check and balance over their State government. I would prefer sticking with the US Constitution and for the States to start nullifying these unconstitutional laws. If Americans won't even do that, I am extremely doubtful secession will solve any of their problems.


      'United We Stand, Divided We Fall'

  3. Article 6 "Supremacy Clause" is not without limits. "in pursuance thereof" meaning in continuation of (the Constitution). Article 10 establishes what those "limits" are. Thus the "Supremacy Clause" does NOT give cart Blanche to the federal government, and is NOT supreme over the states. In order for Article 6 to be "supreme" it must be in the confines of the Constitution itself. Many "judges, politicians, and federal pundits" have illegally misrepresented the "Supremacy Clause" and the people have allowed it through ignorance or compliance stating that it "trumps" ALL OTHER parts of the Bill of Rights and Constitution which is NOT accurate.

    • Lorri, there's an added factor involved with this issue of state's rights. The federal government usurps their authority under the Constitution by the grant process. Feds extort our money in the first place then offer it back to the states with a hang man's noose attached in the mandates. This usurpation scam takes place right down to our local county government level. Think of just your local sheriff's dept. and the dea funds that they accept.... one can't serve two masters. No matter how much bravado your local sheriff spouts, you can bet he/she will think twice before crossing the feds and loosing their funding. This is how the feds took over education. It use to be that schools did not depend on federal money to run. With the federal grants, either funneled through the state to the district, or, straight from the feds, come the mandates that are unconstitutional. The usual process is the state will accept funds with mandates and then the legislators pass unconstitutional laws in the state in order to comply with the mandates of the grant. Works just like any contract that you or I might sign.