South Carolina State Senator Shane Massey is barely 40, and he’s been in the Senate for ten years. He has resisted the imperial rule of Senate President Hugh Leatherman from the start, at times without any backing from even one colleague. Finally he’s reached a point where he may be able to dislodge Leatherman from absolute power.
The ridiculous Rules of the South Carolina Senate are why we haven’t gotten South Carolina for the BBA. Essentially, only a few bills a year are allowed to pass with a simple majority. And Leatherman gets to decide which bills get this “preferred treatment”. Everything else requires a 2/3 vote. We’ve never been given the opportunity to pass our Resolution with a majority.
No one is even sure if Leatherman even opposes the Article V BBA Resolution. He won’t say. He doesn’t have much to say to anyone. Even the members of the Senate Republican Majority can’t get a hearing. If I was a South Carolina State Senator I wouldn’t put up with it. And now, apparently, something close to a majority of the Caucus has screwed up the courage to defy an 85 year old man. What the hell took them so long?
If Massie succeeds, by either deposing Leatherman, or forcing a rule change, we’ll get through South Carolina in a New York minute. Well, let me take that back. They operate at a pretty slow pace. But we’d get it, and it could be our 34th.
As far as I know the exact date of the Nashville Convention hasn’t been determined, and I have a suggestion. Start it off on August 23rd, two days after the Great American Eclipse. Nashville is directly in line for a full eclipse, and a lot of people, especially from the South, will be going to Nashville to see it. If you tried to book a room for August 19th, 20th, or 21st you’d have trouble. But by the 23rd the eclipse watchers will have gone home, and the accommodations should be available.
And if you’re a delegate from a part of the country that won’t see the eclipse, which is most of it, maybe you want to kill two birds with one stone. Come to Nashville early, see the eclipse, and then go the first Convention of States in 155 years.
Why haven’t we done this before? I was a State Legislator for eight years, and if it had occurred to me, I would have gotten a few States to join Alaska in having a Convention of States. It’s easy to do. You just do what Tennessee is going to do, and then you convince some other States to join in. It’s a piece of cake. And it hasn’t been done in 155 years.
Part of it is because of the language of Article V. All the people at Philadelphia knew what a Convention of States was. Many of them had just been to one in Annapolis. So they just assume everybody knows what one is. But we’re so ignorant of the principles of federalism in this country that we can’t even speak its language.
Article V was designed by Madison and Mason with two goals in mind. First, to recognize and formalize the sovereignty of the States. Second, to force passage of the Bill of Rights. Mason had insisted on a Bill of Rights in the Constitution, but lost. So he walked out of the Convention and refused to sign the Constitution. And he told them that he would oppose passage in Virginia, and thus doom the whole enterprise. Without a Bill of Rights, Mason didn’t want the Constitution.
Madison, ever the diplomat, figured a way out. Allow the States to amend the Constitution directly, as set out in Article V. He then promised the delegates at the Virginia Ratification Convention that the First Congress would amend the Constitution by adopting the Bill of Rights. And if that promise was broken, the States could get a Bill of Rights at an Article V Convention. All these promises were made to the delegates elected in 1788. It worked, barely. Ratification passed in late June, 89-79. Madison and Mason saved the day. Without Virginia, no Constitution.
If if it wasn’t for Article V, we wouldn’t have a Constitution. And Article V is how we’ll save it. Starting in Nashville.