Levin responds to the Neo-Confederates and other naysayers about the convention of states proposing amendments to the constitution.
James Madison and the Framers were right!
In his 1830 letter, James Madison explains at length his rejection of nullification and his support for Article V. (See link below.) Moreover, unlike Article V, which was expressly proposed, crafted, and adopted at the Constitutional Convention, and ratified as part of the Constitution at the state ratification conventions,nullification was not. The word nullification doesn’t even appear in Madison’s notes of the Convention’s proceedings and, of course, in the Constitution itself. Article V is obviously part of the Constitution. I didn’t invent it. But I do endorse it.
There’s much more to say and I will next week. That said,there are those who are neo-confederates and part of fringe groups who seek the unraveling of the Republic. During the pre~Civil War period nullification was seen by many as a step toward secession. I reject this.
Furthermore, a republic of 50 states cannot function if one or two or ten states nullify laws they consider unconstitutional, whether those states are blue or red or what have you. It is not our purpose to reinvent the Articles of Confederation in some form but to reestablish our constitutional system, federalism and the power of the states acting collectively.
The reform amendments I propose may not be perfect but are intended to empower in most cases three-fifths of the state legislatures to act if the political will exists or compels it. This is not about a couple of states nullifying a federal statute or whatever, creating chaos and legal instability, but a significant majority of state legislatures overriding federal action. If the federal government ignores the actions of these states, the states then enforce their collective will. It’s the state legislatures that are then free to ignore, reject, or bypass federal intrusion or usurpation.
As for the selection of delegates, the historical record is unequivocal — the state legislatures choose their delegates and control them, not Congress. Otherwise the purpose of the state convention process is self-defeating and irrational. The framers were neither. The argument that there’s any confusion about this is simply nonsense and fear-mongering
In addition, the contention that Congress can take over the state convention is equally silly. Congress’s role is ministerial. It is obliged to call for the convention. Alexander Hamilton makes this point in Federalist 85. And in the end, the proposed amendments produced by the convention require three-fourth’s of the states to ratify. The state legislatures basically replace Congress for purposes of proposing amendments,thereby bypassing Congress.
Those who attack Article V are attacking the framers and the Constitution itself. As I said, I didn’t invent it. And let’s keep in mind that the Article V state convention process is federalism in action, something constitutionalist should embrace.
If folks would take the time to read my book and other information available on the subject, and recognize what the neo-confederate nullification crowd is actually shoveling, we might make further progress.George Mason and the others made clear that the Article V state convention process is the legitimate and constitutional recourse in response to an oppressive federal government. He said it and they concurred with their votes.
MR. MADISON TO MR. EVERETT.