Letters to the editor

Apr. 12, 2014 @ 04:43 PM

There is no risk of a constitutional convention

The commenter who feared the outcome of a liberal or conservative constitutional convention need not worry.

Changes to the Constitution are set out in Article V of the Constitution. The most familiar option for adding amendments to the Constitution are done via two-thirds voting approval of each the Senate and the House followed by a three-fourths majority ratification by 38 state legislatures. The amendment is then added to the Constitution as law.

The second and lesser known method for adding amendments to the Constitution, which has never been done, is for two-thirds of state legislatures to apply to Congress to hold a “constitutional convention” and the Congress is to comply with the request.

However, the Congress does have the ability to pass legislation addressing the issue before a “constitutional convention” is scheduled.

A “constitutional convention” is done outside of Congress and solely through delegates from the petitioning states. It is not a Republican one or a Democratic one but is solely held based on two-thirds of the states (34) asking for one.

Rules, procedures, who is a delegate and other details for the convention must be agreed to in advance and can only address one topic. The one topic, which has been debated in the 1960s, the 1980s, and again now, is an amendment to require Congress to “balance the federal budget.”

The current movement has primarily been promoted by the tea party, with other conservative groups also interested in a balanced budget amendment.

The wording for the amendment to “balance the Federal budget” must be written, and all state legislatures petitioning for the amendment must agree exactly with the specific wording of the amendment before a convention can be called.

The convention can only last one day, and the convention is only to vote to accept or deny the one topic amendment. If the 34 states all agree, then Congress, puts it before all 50 states and three-fourths of all the states must affirm it (38) for it to become law.

There would be no wild adding of amendments to abolish any part of the Constitution or the two parties pressing agendas for their policies. There would be no risk of destroying our founding document nor the government or rights it created.

Even though, technically, a 34th state has asked for a balanced budget amendment, these 34 state petitions are not recent and date back as far as 40 years. The prevailing ruling is these petitions expired after seven years. So, this would mean there are only two petitioners: Ohio and Michigan, and they could withdraw based on the outcome of state elections this November.

As with the Constitution, there are several areas of complexity which are too many to explain here, where current laws would invalidate the holding of any constitutional convention. Due to that complexity, the interpretation of the “constitutional convention” would most likely end up in the Supreme Court after many years in lower courts and only if the Supreme Court even agreed to hear it.

Constitutional amendments are not abolished but remedied with another amendment to invalidate the previous, as was done with Prohibition.

The probability of a “constitutional convention” is zero. As it stands the only agreed amendment to discuss by the two current petitioning states is for a requirement to balance the federal budget. The reason no one has likely heard of this is the media, except Fox, ignore it because of the complexities and hurdles for it to ever become a reality.

Our Constitution is safe even though the conservative-dominated Supreme Court has issued some very dangerous rulings on campaign finance this week, which open the door to buying of candidates and election outcomes being determined by billionaires, like the Koch brothers, who personally spent $500 million to try to elect Mitt Romney and have already spent more than $10 million in attacks ads on Kay Hagan, thus threatening the democracy of elections by the people.

We can still express the values and policies we want for our country by making sure we vote for the candidates who most closely represent those values. If we all vote, then the majority will have spoken and there will still never be a need for a “constitutional convention.”

Beverly Tatum

Waxhaw

Take nothing at face value … investigate

If you think Sarah Palin said, “You can see Russia from my house,” you would be wrong.  Just Google the phrase and find out who is actually being quoted. By the same token, when you see the TV ads that are flooding North Carolina from outsiders, find out who they are and what they want. If billionaires and groups with millions are sinking money into our elections, they will certainly expect something in return. If outside money wants to determine our elections, please ask questions. This may be part of the problem for the shrinking middle class ... voting against their best interests.

Judy Amick

Indian Trail

Finally scared enough to vote?

If you live in North Carolina, you might just get scared enough this year to finally get out and vote. 

Some out-of-state billionaires including the Koch brothers whose companies are dumping poisons into our air are placing their “billion dollar” bets that you are too scared to vote! They are clearly betting billions against you.

But if not you — then who? The millions of infants and toddlers can’t yet — and for many years to come — cast ballots against this air poison dumping.

And they clearly need — now — clean healthy air to breathe.

And more and more voting age citizens risk losing their future votes as the recently passed “voter suppression” restrictions are put into place.

Most of the big money is being poured into grossly expensive political 24/7 cable TV commercials directed primarily against our own senator, Kay Hagan, who has challenged these horrific practices. 

It is imperative to support Kay Hagan — one of the few senators who have the courage to challenge these out-of-state Koch brothers.

Lloyd Weichinger

Waxhaw

Check the batteries in your smoke detector

In the first three months of 2014, North Carolina has lost 30 of its residents to the ravages of fire. These numbers are among the highest in the nation during that time period and reflect the very real dangers that face each of North Carolina’s residents when it comes to fire safety. Fire does not discriminate and can strike at any time and in any type of home.

In the United States there have been 909 reported civilian fatalities due to fire incidents between Jan. 1 and April 1. There have also been 33 reported on-duty firefighter fatalities in 2014. In 2012, the latest year for which we have official data, property loss was estimated at $9.8 billion in structure fires alone.

Despite all of this loss across the country, states including North Carolina are still resisting the concept of installing residential fire sprinkler systems in newly constructed one- and two-family homes and rely solely on smoke alarms to keep their constituents safe.

While working smoke alarms are an effective way to alert residents to a fire, they require residents to take action and can do nothing to prevent the spread of fire. Our most vulnerable citizens, including children, the elderly and the disabled, may not be able to respond to alarms as others might. Fire sprinklers are the only form of proactive fire protection and can protect lives and property by immediately reacting, controlling and even extinguishing a fire.

We urge all citizens to check the batteries in their smoke alarms, educate themselves on the current fire protection requirements in their own cities and states and learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the dangers of fire.

Russell Fleming

President. National Fire Sprinkler Association

Patterson, N.Y.

Transparency vs. paranoia

This past week the bizarre Indian Trail WatchDog website launched another one its irresponsible paranoid rants suggesting the town council’s honoring of the past contributions of Leroy Rushing was somehow a diabolic plot linked to Indian Trail’s insidious Downtown Master Plan which the ITWD opposes.

Who writes such garbage remains hidden as the website claims to desire transparency of government but refuses to disclose the names of its editors.

Yup, transparency for others, but not for oneself. But, then again, what should expect from a group of highly disturbed paranoids?

At the very least an apology is due the Rushing family.

Carlton Aldrich

Indian Trai