Convention of States for Princeton Alumni

Dear Class Leader and fellow Alumni,

There’s a national campaign underway to amend the constitution solely by authority of the states. It’s called Convention of States (COS), a grass-roots organization, inspired by Conservatives. Robert P. George, one of our professors, sits on its legal advisory board. 34 states need to approve a constitutional convention. 38 states are needed to ratify.

Approving the constitutional convention has not been a hard-sell in republican-led legislatures. Seventeen states have approved participating in a convention. But some blue states need to be brought on-board not only to authorize a convention, but to ratify the resulting amendment. ¾ of states are needed to ratify.

Reason I am writing alumni is because some of you might want to get involved. Your residence all over the country is relevant. Alums of the classes of ’73 through ’77 may remember me as an Engineering student. (I have a profile on Linked-In to jog your memory). I know of alums who became prominent in politics, law, administration, or business. They could be very influential. But all you really need is enough of a track record following current events over the years, and the ability to vocalize needs of democrat legislators. It will help if you live in convenient driving distance of a state capitol. Then you could visit legislators while in session.

The COS’s planks are as follows:

  • Term limits for nationally elected officials
  • Address national debt
  • Address government abuses of power, for instance, that Congress has turned over legislative and judicial roles to executive administrations. The Constitution doesn’t permit that.

My wife Debbie and I got involved in Maryland recently. We’ve already visited my legislators with other COS members and volunteers. The lower house has agreed subsequently to put the bill up for vote. My wife and I are going to visit several democrat senators (upper house) and to attempt to appeal to them using national and state-specific rationales. Our four are as follows. You would need to modify item 3 (or any other you choose) according to your state’s politics:

  1. Sackett vs. EPA lawsuits. This is where a couple in Idaho bought a half-acre lot in a subdivision in 2010. They saw wet soil on their lot, got concerned, went to the Core of Engineers, who concluded (verbally) that they could build a house on it. Subsequently the EPA put a $38,000 per day fine on them until they returned the land to its natural state. The EPA disallowed any appeal to the courts. They appealed to district and appellate courts anyway, who sided with the EPA. The Supreme Court overturned the lower courts’ rulings unanimously. Now the Sacketts must relitigate in the lower courts. The Sacketts so far have had to file 19 lawsuits!
  2. Too Big to Fail, by Andrew Ross Sorkin. I plan to show the legislator the book cover. The feds forced banks to lend to unqualified buyers, which led to the 2008 liquidity crash and taxpayer bailout.
  3. The Obamacare rollout caused the Maryland democratic gubernatorial candidate to lose the gubernatorial election to a Republican. The candidate had been lieutenant governor and took the helm of Maryland’s Obamacare implementation. He became the scapegoat of the website’s failures, and thereby lost the election in my blue state a few months later.
  4. A picture from an old book of mine, Your Rugged Constitution, published by Stanford University Press in 1950. I’ll distribute it once the Press authorizes my use of it.

You can find information about COS and how to contact your state coordinator at https://conventionofstates.com/resources and related pages. As Princeton is “In the Nation’s Service,” I thought alums of near-vintage classes would want to deliver a good parting shot in this manner while our mental faculties are still up to the challenge.

Note that there is a progressively driven Article 5 movement going on to recall the Citizens’ United court decision. Interestingly, the House of Representatives got wind of this and are having hearings about it (just by chance heard the hearing’s start on NPR). Congress doesn’t really want the states to control their affairs! Consequently, these Article 5 efforts sometimes lead congress into addressing the problems themselves.

The COS already has gained 1.7 million petitioners.

I put this up on my business website because it was the most expeditious way of getting the word around. I’m not trying to sell anything here.

Thanks for your time!

Mark D. Ramsay ’76