LeMunyon Represents VA at Assembly of State Legislatures

LeMunyon Represents VA at Assembly of State Legislatures

LeMunyon Represents VA at Assembly of State Legislatures

By Tim Hannigan- Via Fairfax Free Citizen-

Virginia House Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R, VA-67)represented Virginia at a meeting of the Assembly of State Legislatures (formerly Mount Vernon General Assembly) in Indianapolis, IA, during June 12-13, to continue development of the plans and processes for a Constitution Article V Convention for Proposing Amendments to the Constitution.

The focus of the Assembly is to develop the rules, processes, and procedures that would guide an Article V Convention, NOT on development or consideration of specific amendments to be reviewed at a Convention.

The Assembly of State Legislators first met at George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, VA (hence the original name of the assembly) on December 7, 2013.Ninety-seven legislators representing 32 states spent their own money to travel to Mount Vernon for the meeting. Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R, IA-16) and Ohio Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Huffman (R, OH-4) organized the meeting and extended invitations to all state legislatures to send representatives. Delegates LeMunyon, Dave Albo (R, VA-42), and Scott Lingamfelter (R, VA-31) represented Virginia at that meeting. The meeting participants agreed on a general approach toward developing a bipartisan Article V Convention plan, including follow-up meetings.

In an exclusive interview with the Fairfax Free Citizen, Delegate LeMunyon said House Speaker William Howell (R, VA-28) appointed him to be Virginia’s sole representative at the Indiana meeting, probably because he was available in June and has shown an active interest in an Article V Convention and has, in fact, introduced Article V Convention resolutions every year he has been in the House since 2010.

Delegate LeMunyon explained his interest in an Article V Convention came from the strong dissatisfaction with the Federal Government expressed to him by constituents when he knocked on thousands of doors during his initial 2009 campaign. Repeatedly, people from across the political spectrum voiced their frustration with the accumulation of national debt; the Federal Government’s usurpation of power, including its intrusive role in children’s education; and the influence of special interests on long-serving federal lawmakers. “Whatever was going on in Washington didn’t seem to have a whole lot to do with making their lives better.”

He concluded Congress has structural problems and won’t fix itself. That leaves only one choice, besides electing new people to Congress, and that is to have the states exercise their power to amend the Constitution. He, and others supporting an Article V Convention, both conservatives and liberals, contend the intent of the Constitution’s Article V drafters was to allow states to limit the role and influence of Congress.

Delegate LeMunyon pointed out the Article V language provides little detail about organizing and implementing a Convention to amend the Constitution:

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 …

The brevity may have been the case because political conventions were common among the colonies and states during the colonial era, and Constitutional guidance for them was unnecessary. Delegate LeMunyon says the Assembly will try to build consensus around the “historical precedent” of past conventions but does not rule out the possibility of potential litigation that could challenge such precedent.

Thus, the purpose of the Assembly of State Legislators is to develop Convention policies, procedures, and practices that are acceptable to the 50 states.

During the meeting in Indiana, the Assembly adopted Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure as the source for the Convention’s rules. Seventy of the 99 state legislative bodies currently use Mason’s as their rule book. The Assembly also organized the following four committees:

  • Executive Committee, which will oversee all Assembly activities. Legislators from Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Rhode Island, Kansas, and Oklahoma are members of this committee.
  • Rules & Procedures Committee, which will develop the rules for the Convention to follow.
  • Judiciary Committee, which will ensure state applications and a Congressional call for a Convention are consistent and legally correct.
  • Planning, Communications, and Finance Committee, which will coordinate meeting logistics and budget for Convention expenses.
    Each committee will have co-chairmen, one each from the Republican and Democratic Parties.

At his request, Delegate LeMunyon is a member of the Rules & Procedures Committee. He has had discussions with Constitutional scholars Randy Barnett of Georgetown University’s Law Center and Rob Natelson of the Independence Institute who have taken an active interest in an Article V Convention. Thus, he will play a key role in how the Convention will actually operate. Under the Co-Chairmanship of State Senator Wayne Niederhauser (R, UT-9), President of the Utah Senate, and State Senator Jason Holsman (D, MI-7), the committee will meet periodically this summer and fall. To ensure rules development complies with accepted legal practices, Delegate LeMunyon is periodically updating Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R, VA-6), the Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, on progress being made in development of Convention rules.

The full Assembly of State Legislatures will meet likely again this December. If all goes as planned, the Assembly will hold a “Convention dry run” at some point thereafter to rehearse implementation of the various proposed rules and procedures with a view toward correcting procedural problems that could arise during an actual Convention.

An Article V Convention is a controversial subject among people across the political spectrum. Some conservatives enthusiastically support such a Convention, while others adamantly oppose it. Likewise, liberals both support and oppose it. Delegate LeMunyon supports a Convention.

By Tim Hannigan- Via Fairfax Free Citizen-

In an exclusive interview with the Fairfax Free Citizen on July 17, Virginia Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R, VA-67) stated his strong support for an Article V Convention for Proposing Amendments to the United States Constitution. He provided comments on various topics that have been hotly disputed among proponents and opponents of an Article V Convention.

Purpose of the Convention Language in Article V of the Constitution. It was the clear intent of the Constitution drafters to allow the states a means to limit Congress, making it more responsible and more responsive. Whether that Article V clause reflected the true desires of the drafters or was just inserted to mollify the concerns of Virginia’s convention delegates George Mason and Edmund Randolp is moot. The Article V Convention for Proposing Amendments is in the Constitution and has equal standing with all other Constitutional provisions.

Article V Convention Rules and Procedures. Because the Constitution provides little detail about how to organize, manage, and control an Article V Convention, the Assembly of State Legislatures is attempting to develop and document rules and procedures that reflect the best ideas of state legislators from across the country. Clearly, one cannot rule out the risk that an obstructionist-led public or legal campaign against these rules and procedures could block a convention movement. But convention proponents should not give up without at least trying to develop a national consensus supportive of them. As the number of states asking Congress to call for a convention approaches the required 34, convention proponents will have to make an Article V Convention a public issue in political campaigns, as ultimately the people will decide whether they want a convention.

Defective Constitution and Improper Implementation. The Constitution has some defects that require fixing. For example, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Commerce Clause is off track from the founder’s original intent, so a Constitutional amendment is necessary to revise that clause. At the same time, the Federal Government has usurped authorities and powers not granted to it in the Constitution, and one or more Constitutional amendments are necessary to roll back these usurpations. For example, the Federal has taken on a dominating role in education, a power not delegated to the Federal Government by the states. In short, an Article V Convention is necessary to fix both defects in the Constitution and the Federal Government’s usurpation of power.

State Nullification of Federal Laws and Regulations. Most states don’t recognize they have the power to nullify federal laws and regulations as implied by a “compact” among the states. In the 1840s, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the theory of nullification, ruling states can’t pick out laws and say they won’t comply with them. Delegate LeMunyon says the country can’t have federal laws that do not apply uniformly around the country, with half the states complying and the other half not complying. He offered the unworkable hypothetical example of Ohio opposing water pollution rules in a river and causing Missourians to suffer the consequences of the polluted river as it flows through that state.

Federal Government’s Influence on States. The Federal Government seldom inflicts retribution on states that challenge its “power grabs.” However, it does dangle the promise of Federal subsidies to states to induce them to accept Federal programs, e.g., subsidies for the Medicaid program.

Preventing a “Runaway Convention.” The Assembly of State Legislatures’ Rules & Procedures Committee (on which Delegate LeMunyon serves) is attempting to draft rules and procedures to guard against the convention going beyond its limited amendment purpose and redrafting the entire Constitution, as the Constitutional Convention of 1787 did when called to amend the Articles of Confederation. Use of Mason’s Manual as the convention procedural guide is a start, but additional provisions may have to be added to the Manual, including one that prevents “chucking” the entire Manual. One of the key checks on a runaway convention will be emphasis on making all convention meetings and deliberations open and transparent to the public and media. The Convention will be allowed to adjourn, as necessary, to allow the opportunity for the sovereign states and people to instruct their delegates on how to vote.

Prospects of Federal Government Complying With Amended Constitution. In the final analysis, any Constitutional amendments that result from an Article V Convention will matter if the people want them to matter. The states and people can always take Government transgressions to court. As Ben Franklin said upon emerging from the original Constitutional Convention said, we have “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Over the past 100 years, people appear to have wanted a stronger Federal Government than originally established in the Constitution. It is Delegate LeMunyon’s hope that over the course of time the American people will realize the Federal Government is “too big to manage and too big to succeed.” Most people don’t pay attention to politics any more now than they did 200 years ago. Some people sense a problem with Federal Government overreach, but, like the frog in the slowly boiling water, they may not realize how bad the problem is until too late. Opponents of big government must educate the sovereign people about the benefits of small government if they are to roll back the Federal Government’s power.

 

Fairfax Free Citizen

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