A chill went down my spine. The Convention secretary was calling the roll of states gathered for a historical test-run of an Article Five convention for proposing constitutional amendments, and every state in the Union had shown up to participate.
A total of 137 commissioners (delegates), including 115 sitting state legislators and 22 non-legislator citizens took part in testing this long-neglected constitutional process and the set of draft rules developed by experts Rob Natelson and Michael Farris to guide it.
And how did it work? Beautifully.
The facade of the National Constitution Center illuminated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Mark Makela/Corbis)
One of the Convention’s legal advisors, Professor Randy Barnett from Georgetown Law Center, remarked, “George Mason, who gave us the Article Five Convention of States, would be proud; it was his spirit that pervaded the hall.”
And indeed, no one who was there could deny that the “spirit that pervaded the hall” carried the same sense of destiny and purpose that must have guided our Founding Fathers as they penned America’s great manual of government.
These 137 commissioners came to the simulation representing a broad and diverse range of state and regional concerns. They came from greatly varying political experiences. Their constituencies ranged from poor inner city Americans to the wealthy, affluent movers and shakers of society. But they all came with this common political bond: the recognition that—much like King George of England--Washington, D.C. has taken too much, for too long, from the states and the people. It has illegitimately imposed its will upon the nation through the abuse of the limited powers actually ceded to it in our Constitution.
But there was another common thread that united these 137 commissioners with each other and with the Founders: the determination to find a means of securing liberty, and the hope that this Article Five process could be that means.
By performing this test-run of Article Five’s convention for proposing amendments, these 137 commissioners from across the land have demonstrated to a desperate America that our Constitution, and the processes it prescribed for a healthy Republic, were built to last.
Americans need not panic as they realize that no new President, no new Congress, and no new Court on the horizon is likely to restore our nation. Because of what happened last week in Williamsburg, Virginia, we can see that there is another option—a beautiful, constitutional option that is within our grasp.
As Convention of States Project Co-Founder Michael Farris, remarked, “The events at Williamsburg will be remembered as a turning point in history. The spirit of liberty and self-government have been reignited.”
It’s time to fan the flame.
To read the final report from the Convention (including the six amendments that were “officially” proposed to rein in D.C.), to see the full list of commissioners, and to watch a recording of the entire plenary session from Friday, click here.
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