WILL WE SOON SEE AN ARTICLE V CONVENTION OF STATES?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 10, 2015) — On Thursday, former attorney and constitutional scholar Montgomery Blair Sibley announced that he filed a lawsuit against Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for having failed to respond to his request to call a convention of states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
Sibley traces his ancestry back to Founding Father George Mason of Virginia, who attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Other ancestors include Francis Preston Blair, who published the Congressional Globe during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency; and Attorney Montgomery Blair, who represented Dred Scott in the famous case of Dred Scott v. Sandford.
By running for president himself in 2012, Sibley challenged the legitimacy of Barack Hussein Obama to hold the office of president under Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the Constitution. He later called for a grand jury investigation of Obama’s documents, which have been declared “computer-generated forgeries” by a team of criminal investigators.
Sibley also assisted experienced typesetter and author Douglas Vogt in petitioning a federal court to present evidence of forgery and fraud to a sitting grand jury which was ultimately denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.
On October 16 of last year, Sibley opined that the first three articles of the U.S. Constitution “have now been preverted beyond all redemption” in regard to the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the federal government.
Last spring, Sibley published findings arrived at through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests showing that the Obama regime, in the person of federal magistrate Deborah Robinson, inexplicably dismissed a number of indictments against accused domestic terrorist Elizabeth Ann Duke, who had known ties to The Weather Underground, led by Obama acquaintance and former fellow board member William Ayers.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution reads:
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.
On his blog on Thursday, Sibley wrote, in part:
…yesterday I sued the U.S. Congress through their representatives: the Honorable Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the Senate, and the Honorable John A. Boehner, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. The suit is framed as a logical syllogism:
U.S. Citizens have a general right: “to require that the Government be administered according to law. . . .”. Fairchild v. Hughes, 258 U.S. 126, 130 (1922)
The “Law” found at Article V of the Constitution states in pertinent part: “The Congress . . . on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, . . ”
“Two thirds of the several States” equals 34 states (50 states*.66%= 34)
To date, as detailed in the Complaint, thirty-five (35) states have made “application” for a Convention to Propose Amendments but Congress has refused to make the “call”.
Therefore, insomuch as Congress is not “administering” the government according to law, the Court is obligated to order Congress to do its duty and make the “call” for such a Convention.
On March 5, Sibley published the initial letter he had written to Boehner and McConnell stating that because 35 states are on record as having voted in favor of holding an Article V convention, “Congress is obligated to discharge its Constitutionally-imposed ministerial duty to ‘call’ such a Convention” whose purpose would be “to Propose Amendments to re-align the balance of power between the federal government, the states and the People.”
His recent lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Division. It seeks redress in three areas consisting of two declaratory judgments and a “Writ of Mandamus to directing Congress to carry out the affirmative action of Calling for a Convention for Proposing Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
In an appendix to Sibley’s lawsuit, documented state requests for an Article V convention begin with Minnesota in 1901.
As stated in his March 5 blog post, Sibley told The Post & Email that if Congress fails to call the convention, the lawsuit will move to the U.S. Supreme Court.
To begin the interview, The Post & Email asked Sibley why he decided to file the lawsuit:
MR. SIBLEY: Once I started doing the research, I saw from an old law review article that there had been quite a few states which had indeed made a specific call for an Article V Convention to propose amendments. So I went down to the Library of Congress, which has the entire Congressional Record on electronic database. I went through each state’s call and dug it out of the Congressional Record, so now I have 36 pages saying the state of Maryland makes the call for a constitutional convention, etc., etc.
So with that information, I then wrote the letter which is attached to the complaint and told John Boehner and Mitch McConnell that “Your duty has been triggered; you must move ahead and discharge what is not discretionary, but a ministerial duty to call the convention.” I heard nothing back from them, and after the waiting period, I decided to go ahead and file the suit.
I could have sued all 535 members of Congress, but that’s a little unwieldy, so I chose the leader of the Senate and the leader of the House. If the suit progresses, which I don’t expect it will, I will turn it into a class action and name everybody else. For procedural purposes, this is enough to get the suit in the door.
THE POST & EMAIL: How long do they have to respond now that it has escalated to a lawsuit?
MR. SIBLEY: Technically, they have 60 days from yesterday to respond. They’re supposed to respond within 20 days, but because I also have to serve the U.S. Attorney and Attorney General as a matter of procedure, that extended the time period to 60 days out.
THE POST & EMAIL: Have you received any acknowledgement since you filed the lawsuit, realizing that it has been only one day?
MR. SIBLEY: No, none at all.
THE POST & EMAIL: Do you consider an Article V convention and constitutional convention to be synonymous?
MR. SIBLEY: No, they’re distinct animals. The first one which we had in 1787 is no longer possible under the social compact that was entered into. There’s no provision to allow such a thing. What everyone agreed to was the Article V method of amending our Constitution, which has two options: 1) Congress can propose amendments, which then go to the states, and if three-quarters of the states approve the amendment, it becomes part of the Constitution; and 2) a convention to propose amendments. That’s when the states force the call; the Congress makes it – and this gets a little murky because nobody really knows the answer yet – but eventually the states arrive; they each get one vote, and if 50% of the states plus one vote for a particular amendment, it is forwarded to the respective 50 states. If three-quarters of those states approve it, it becomes part of the Constitution. This is not a convention where they can rewrite the entire Constitution; they’re not given that authority under Article V.
[Editor’s Note: On October 28, 2014, Sibley wrote on his blog:
As the Founding Fathers determined over two hundred years ago, by acknowledging that the vote by the various states is an affirmation, they understood that delegate votes are for the purpose of expressing the vote of the state, thus expressing both the sovereign authority of the people and the sovereign authority the people have given to the states. In turn, this cumulative vote of the delegates, each of which has the same constitutional authority within the boundaries of each state as each delegate represents the same population value and thus sovereign authority, is used to express the vote of the state. In this manner, the sovereign authority of each delegate is equal.]
The two terms are not the same, and people constantly get this confused. They think, “Some special interest group is going to amend the Constitution and make Christianity illegal” or something, and it’s not possible. Three-quarters of the states would have to approve that, and that would be a remarkable thing. But if that’s the law in three-quarters of the states, then that’s the law, isn’t it?
THE POST & EMAIL: If Boehner and McConnell perform their Article V ministerial duty and call such a convention, how would delegates from each state be appointed?
MR. SIBLEY: It’s never been done, it was never defined, and there is no legitimate answer to that question. That’s one of the reasons that I’m filing the suit: to give an opportunity for those questions to be addressed to the appellate courts so that we now know exactly what needs to be done. Some of these calls happened over 100 years ago. Is that still a valid call? Is it too old? What’s to say what is too old or not too old?
THE POST & EMAIL: There’s no statute of limitations stated in Article V.
MR. SIBLEY: No, there isn’t. To answer your specific question, my sense is that each state would determine its own way of choosing and sending delegates. California may send 1,000; Rhode Island may send one, and it wouldn’t matter, because at the end of the day, each state would get only one vote. But the way they determined to do it would be up to the states.
THE POST & EMAIL: I’ve read a lot of commentary which is vehemently against an Article V convention. One of the reasons I’ve observed is that a delegate could propose that, for instance, Sharia law becomes the law of the land or that the Bill of Rights is abolished. Many people appear afraid that that is what could happen if special interests or if non-citizens get in to the convention. What do you say to that?
MR. SIBLEY: You need to understand the very limited authority of an Article V state convention. All they can do is propose an amendment. So if they vote out an amendment that is going to eliminate the Bill of Rights, that amendment is not wrong; it’s not part of the Constitution; it’s only sent to the 50 state legislatures. If three-quarters of those states then vote to add that to the Constitution, well, apparently, that is the will of three-quarters of the states, and that is the constitutional amendment. The delegates have no authority except to make a proposal, and that proposal has to go through the state legislatures of 38 or 39 states in order to become constitutional law. So the delegates don’t have any ultimate power greater than proposing an amendment.
THE POST & EMAIL: I think people also fear that the delegates will dismantle the Constitution and its current amendments right there at the convention.
MR. SIBLEY: Well, they’re ignorant, and that’s a real fault of their own for not reading the plain language which says that a proposed amendment that thereafter is approved by three-quarters of the states becomes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So let the delegates propose that Sharia law is now going to govern all of the United States’ affairs. That’s an interesting proposition; now let’s send it to 50 legislatures and see if 38 states agree with that proposition and agree to amend the Constitution. This system guards against that very kind of extremism leaking into our sacred document.
THE POST & EMAIL: I read that the Ford Foundation and other corporations have sponsored the writing of a “Constitution for the Newstates of America,” which advocates socialism imposed by a ruling elite.
MR. SIBLEY: Go get ’em…go for it. If they can convince three-quarters of the states, they deserve the fruits of their labor. But I don’t think anything that extreme is going to happen.
THE POST & EMAIL: Because most people today do not have a strong background in civics or the Constitution, do you think there is enough time to educate the American people as to what they might expect from an Article V convention?
MR. SIBLEY: You know that my name is “Montgomery I-Always-Go-to-the-Supreme-Court Sibley,” so this suit that I filed, one way or the other, will end up at the U.S. Supreme Court in the next 6-9 months. If they say, “No, we’re not going to take it and decide this issue,” the question is, “Why not? It’s pressing; we need to know the answers as to what the contours of this Article V convention are going to be. So I’m hoping that’s going to be part of the civics lesson that gets that kind of publicity.
[Editor’s Note: The Post & Email will present the second half of our interview with Mr. Sibley in the near future, which will discuss his reasons for advocating for an Article V convention.]