The guardians of the Constitution are the States, acting through their State Legislatures. They are given the ultimate authority. If they wanted, they could abolish the Constitution, and start over. The only thing they can’t do is reduce the equal suffrage of the States in the upper chamber of the federal legislature.
Since the power of the States is essentially unlimited under Article V, there is fear that an Article V Convention would “run away”, that is, exceed the scope of its call. Our fundamental freedoms under the Bill of Rights could theoretically be eliminated. An Amendment Convention called for the sole and exclusive purpose of proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment might decide that it wanted to do something else besides.
In which case Congress would be within its rights to refuse to specify how such proposed Amendments would be ratified. Until Congress does this, the process of Amendment under Article V is brought to a halt. Further, of course, is the difficulty of getting 38 States to ratify such Amendments. All it takes to stop an Amendment is one chamber of a State Legislature in 13 States. With Amendments to the Constitution, many are called, and few are chosen.
Another reason this runaway scenario is so fanciful is the composition of the people with the power, the 7,382 members of our State Legislatures. I was one for eight years in Alaska, and over the last three years, working with the BBA Task Force, I’ve met hundreds of them, all across the country. With some exceptions, like California, they’re not professional politicians, and have no desire to become one. They’re citizen legislators, most of whom make a financial sacrifice in order to serve. Unlike Congress, few of them are lawyers. There’s no money in it, unless you’re corrupt, and few are.
A State Legislator is an elected community leader, and it’s considered a great honor. Your friends and neighbors want you to go to the State Capitol and represent them. Many of them are personally acquainted with you. In places like Maine and New Hampshire the number of voters in a State House District is tiny, maybe 10,000. As a State Senator in Alaska, I had about 50,000 people in my district. It was where I lived, earned a living, and sent my kids to school. I was never a very sociable person, but Babbie made a lot of friends, and we were just members of the community. If you wanted to ask me a question at the grocery store, I’d be happy to answer, though in my case nobody ever did. Most State Legislative sessions only last a few months, so you’re living at home in the district almost the whole year. You’ll answer your own phone, and arrange to meet with anyone in your district on legislative business. A State Legislator is accountable, unlike a Congressman.
With few exceptions, these people are nothing to be afraid of, especially when about 60% of them are Republicans, and most of those are conservatives. These are the people who care about where this country is heading, and prove it by running for office. More than the average citizen, they understand the importance of the Constitution, which every one of them has taken an oath to uphold. A lot of them take that oath seriously.
So the answer to the question, who guards the Guardians?, is simple. The people who live in their community. The answer is, you. If my State Representative starts messing with the Bill of Rights, he’ll hear from me, face to face. And I’m not alone.
The crazy thing is, the Guardians are afraid of each other. Bill Fruth and I have run into this time and time again. “We’re OK here in Utah, but how about all those other guys?” I’d tell them that those other guys were a lot like them, but they didn’t believe me.
Fruth and I have finally figured out how to deal with this problem, and it’s why I go into 2017 with such complete confidence. I’ve always known the Great American Eclipse in August of next year would be somehow symbolic. Now I’ve figured out how. The impact of the first use of Article V in our history, to save the Constitution, marks a turning point in our political history, a new beginning. We’re going to restore our Constitutional form of government, one Amendment Convention at a time.
It starts in 2017.