Opponents to an Article V convention would argue that our nation lacks the brilliance and leadership that was prevalent among the founding generation. These naysayers question whether any good amendments could come out of a present-day Article V convention, arguing that there are no “George Washingtons” or “James Madisons” among us today.
To these people, we say you have to look no further than Purcellville, Virginia.
From June 16-27th, forty-six teenagers from across the nation gathered together at Patrick Henry College for Michael Farris’ constitutional law camp, where he condensed a year-long course on constitutional law into two weeks. These teenagers were immersed in instruction on the original meaning of the Constitution, the Supreme Courts failure at interpreting the founding document, and landmark cases that essentially have altered the words of the document outside of the normal amending process.
If that wasn’t intense enough, the campers also participated in a Convention of States simulation, writing amendments to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. They were challenged to use the information they learned to fix the current abuses of power committed by the federal government.
With Farris’ Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens and Mark Levin’s The Liberty Amendments in hand, these students were assigned to state delegations and received instruction from both Farris and myself on their assignments. As Farris told the students, “My goal in [the COS project] to get back to the Constitution as written, not as interpreted by the Supreme Court.” These students certainly did not disappoint.
After a week of small committee meetings, super-committee hearings, coalition building, and debates on the floor of a simulated convention, the students drafted seven amendments. Their subject matter ranged from placing terms limits on Congress to clarifying the Commerce Clause to limiting executive orders. Each amendment curbed the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and would do a great deal of good if ratified today.
At the end of the week, we asked the students, “Do you think that a Convention of States is necessary to reign in the power of the federal government?” Every single hand was raised. Some of them even expressed interest in signing up as volunteers.
We think the overall perspective of the students can be summed up in the words of Linda Gaponenko from Illinois, “It rewired my thought process to think more critically and analytically, and realize I have a duty to defend the Constitution.”