Gov. Abbott Wants a Con Con, part I

The Article V convention is a Constitutional Convention
[Part I]

Governor Abbott unveiled his Texas Plan on January 8, 2016 with his wish list of amendments to the U.S. Constitution. This is interesting because the governor has no legislative powers.

Texas Constitution, Article II:. The powers of the Government of the State

1875 Texas Constitutional Convention
1875 Texas Constitutional Convention

of Texas shall be divided into three distinct departments, each of which shall be confided to a separate body of magistracy, to wit: Those which are Legislative to one; those which are Executive to another, and those which are Judicial to another; and no person, or collection of persons, being of one of these departments, shall exercise any power properly attached to either of the others, except in the instances herein expressly permitted.

Only the Texas legislature can propose a “request” (through a resolution) to Congress, for an Article V convention, a.k.a. constitutional convention (con con), yet Gov. Abbott released his 92 page “Texas Plan” to re-write the U.S. Constitution (con con). And, no less than 5 times the governor calls for a “constitutional convention”, under the Texas Plan (pages 67 & 68).

The Constitution for the United States is the charter upon which the states created a federal government, and delegated certain limited duties with corresponding limited powers of taxation to fund the delegated federal functions (Article I.).

The constitution has been amended 27 times since the creation of our Federal government. Provisions for amending are found in Article V.

Article V
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; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Article V – translation

Amending the U.S. Constitution requires 2 steps;
1.) proposing amendments and
2.) ratifying amendments.

Each of these 2 steps (proposing and ratifying) can be executed in one of two ways. The options for each are:

Proposing Amendments
Congress shall propose amendments:
I. Whenever two thirds of both houses [290 in the House and 67 in the Senate] deem it necessary,
-OR-
II. On the application of the legislatures of two thirds [34 states] of the several states to propose amendments. Note, Article V does not mention 2/3 of Governors make application.

Ratifying Amendments
Once an amendment(s) has been proposed (either by Congress or by the legislatures), then Congress (not state legislatures) decides which method the states will use in ratification.
I. Congress may send such proposal(s) to each of the state legislatures for their up or down vote which has been the historical norm. [3/4 of the states (38) approval required for ratification]
–OR-
II. Congress may dictate that states use the several state ratifying conventions which has been used only once, in 1933. [3/4 of state ratifying conventions (38) must approve]

Only one amendment has been ratified using the state ratifying convention – in 1933 the 21st Amendment repealed alcohol prohibition (the 18th Amendment).

In 1933, the Texas legislature did not allow voters to directly vote on the 21st Amendment. Instead, one delegate (and one alternate delegate) from each of Texas’ 31 senatorial districts was elected by the People to attend a ratifying convention in Austin, voting yea or nay on the proposed 21st amendment.

So, What is a State Ratifying Convention?

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