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Senate Judiciary hears testimony for and against congressional term limits amendment resolution, approves it

MORGANTOWN – The Senate Judiciary Committee took up and approved on Thursday a House resolution calling for a constitutional convention to approve Congressional term limits.

While the subject has been debated for years, Judiciary heard from some new voices on Thursday.

Quick background: The term limits resolution is HCR 9. Article V of the U.S. Constitution establishes two ways to amend the U.S. Constitution. First, two-thirds of both houses of Congress can propose amendments. Second, two-thirds of the 50 states can apply to Congress to call a convention of states to propose amendments.

In either case, the proposed amendments would have to be ratified either by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or by conventions in three-fourths of the states.

HCR 9 takes the second approach for a congressional term limits amendment.

Shawn Meehan is a Republican, retired master sergeant and founder of the Guard the Constitution project. “I am absolutely against calling an Article V convention,” he said.

He described a number of reasons. Among them, the founders tried term limits and decided they’re not effective. The Articles of Confederation that preceded the Constitution contained congressional term limits and the founders removed them from the new Constitution.

“It ruins the incentive for legislators to behave themselves,” he said, because they have no hope of being rewarded with reelection so they make hay while the sun shines. “It’s up to We the People to check the elected leaders and enforce our Constitution.”

Judi Caler, president of Citizens Against an Article V Convention and a Republican, said the idea of a single-topic convention is a smoke screen. The people pushing for a convention intend to aggregate various unrelated applications – for a balanced budget, term limits and so on, some nearly 200 years old – in order to hold a wide-open convention.

The convention lobby is backed by globalist money and the Constitution is getting in their way,” she said. They want an entirely new constitution and playing into the current discontent of conservatives to get one.

“The subject doesn’t matter,” he said. “We’re going to get the same convention no matter what. We won’t have a Constitution left.”

Ken Clark, regional director of U.S. Term Limits, took the other side of the issue. He contradicted Caler’s contention about aggregating applications, saying more than 400 Article V resolutions have been passed by more than 40 states, but there hasn’t been one.

“Language matters. There have never been 34 identical resolutions passed by the states, ever,” he said. A convention would be called to propose an amendment. “That is all the authority this convention has.”

The Legislature would have full authority over the delegates, he said, and could recall them if they stepped over their boundaries. He added that SB 332, which recently passed the Senate and lays out how convention delegates would be selected and governed, is probably unnecessary as legislatures already have the power.

HCR 9 passed in divided voice vote and heads to the Senate floor for adoption.

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