Guest Post by former NH Senator Jim Rubens
To All Fiscal Responsibility Amendment Supporters:
Please reach out by personal phone call or email to all GOP voting members in your county or city delegation to help rebut Bircher falsehoods.
The hottest agenda item for the January 28 GOP annual meeting (excepting the Chair race) is turning out to be the resolution endorsing a constitutional amendment to limit national debt. Over the past week, New Hampshire Republicans have been blitzed with counterfactual emails in opposition.
The claims being circulated are largely premised on discredited John Birch Society fear mongering about Article V state power to propose and to ratify constitutional amendments.
Rather than diving into the rabbit hole with scholarly corrections to each of the Bircher fabrications, understand the actual JBS prime objective. JBS wants state legislators to unilaterally relinquish their amending power, leaving Congress in complete control. Rather than imposing constitutional limits on Congress’ unchecked addiction to debt and printed money, JBS would apparently prefer to speed us headlong into a fiscal and monetary train wreck.
Two straightforward facts about the Article V amending process generally restore confidence in our system of federalism that guards us against Congressional unresponsiveness:
1. Birchers claim that an amending convention has the power to void and replace the Constitution. In fact, the black-letter language of Article V grants delegates to an amending convention zero power to change the Constitution in any way. Any amendment that delegates may propose is without effect unless and until ratified by 38 states. This means that 13 of 99 state legislative bodies have absolute veto power. No proposed amendment can be ratified without robust support by conservatives.
2. Birchers claim that convention delegates will go rogue and seize power from state legislatures. In fact, in its unanimous 2020 decision in Chiafalo v. Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed absolute “principle-agent” authority by state legislatures to remove, replace and sanction delegates attempting to breach the subject-matter limitation imposed on them by that state’s amending convention application. Translation: a contractor you hire to replace your roof may not go rogue and replace your windows.
Here’s why the John Birch Society flipped from support of Article V to opposition.
During the late 1970s as Ronald Reagan built toward his landslide victory, he urged the states to use their Article V power to limit federal debt. The states responded in force. By 1979, 39 states including New Hampshire – more than the required 34 – adopted valid Article V applications for a convention for proposing an amendment limited to the subject of fiscal responsibility.
This Reagan-inspired wave frightened California Governor Jerry Brown and other pro-debt pols into launching a campaign against Article V. Knowing that they could not win by arguing for fiscal bloat, the pro-debt forces resorted to “runaway convention” fear-mongering, persuading Birchers that the states would select closet-Communists as amending convention delegates who would somehow seize power and shred the Constitution.
Given that Republicans now hold a solid 58 to 41 edge in control over the 99 state legislative bodies, we can safely assume that an amending convention will not be hijacked by Communists.
Again, please circulate your support for the debt-limit amendment resolution to GOP voting members in your county or city delegation.
Debt Limit Resolution cosponsors to date:
Harry Bean, Gilford, chair, Belknap County GOP delegation
Diane Bitter, Portsmouth, fmr Secretary, NH GOP
Chris Buda, Nashua, ‘22 chair, Nashua GOP
Eli Clemmer, Berlin, chair, Coos County GOP
Rep. David Love, Derry, House Member
Rep. Dan McGuire, Epsom, House Member
Richard Merkt, Westmoreland, ‘22 chair, Cheshire County GOP
Bruce Perlo, Franconia, ’22 chair, Grafton County GOP
Terry Roy, Deerfield, chair, House Criminal Justice Committee
Jim Rubens, Hanover, fmr NH GOP platform chair, fmr state senator
(Affiliations do not imply organizational endorsement)
Jim Rubens is a former NH State Senator and a former chair of the NH GOP platform committee.