After a long and arduous battle in Oklahoma, lawmakers late this week ultimately decided to quash various measures that would have put the state on record calling for a Constitutional Convention (Con Con) under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The victory for anti-Con-Con forces in Oklahoma was especially noteworthy because U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican who has a positive and conservative reputation among most Oklahomans, was strongly in favor of calling a convention. However, in the end, lawmakers and activists told The New American that the risks to the existing Constitution of calling a convention in the current political climate were simply too great.
On April 21, the state House of Representatives voted 56 to 42 to quash Senate Joint Resolution 4, which would have sent an application to Congress on behalf of Oklahoma asking it to convene a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. The text of the resolution would have attempted to limit the scope of the convention to amendments that impose “fiscal restraints on, and limit the power and jurisdiction of, the federal government,” as well as limiting the terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress. Another measure that also ended up failing would have sought a balanced-budget amendment.
If 34 states apply under Article V, a constitutional convention would be convened — the first since delegates met to amend the Articles of Confederation and ended up replacing it with the current Constitution. About two dozen states have applied so far.
In Oklahoma, though, at least until next year’s legislative session, the issue is dead. And activists who spoke to The New American, citing the risks to the Constitution, said they intend to make sure it stays dead.
Supporters of the measure argued that a Con Con represents the last hope for reining in a federal government that more than two-thirds of Americans say in polls is “out of control” and a threat to liberty. Few involved in the battle disagreed with the assertion that Washington, D.C., has gone off the rails and needs to be urgently restrained. The question of how to do that, though, was a crucial focal point amid the debate, with critics of the Con-Con plan saying the solution is the Constitution, not changing it.
Among those opposing the Con-Con effort was Oklahoma Representative Mike Ritze, a constitutional conservative and doctor. After nearly six combined hours of floor discussion and debate on two separate proposals, during which he and others cited the risk of a “runaway convention” and other concerns, Oklahoma defeated the Article V agenda, Representative Ritze explained.