Article V Convention or Nullification ~ What's Your "Camp"?

Nullification or Article V conventions?

Article V Conventions and Nullification are NOT mutually exclusive, nor is one the magic pill for all our federal problems.  Each is a legitimate Constitutional solution, but each has a different aim and application.   Each plan has its inherent problems and there are legitimate concerns that should be considered and dangers guarded against.  They can be used together in the defense of Liberty as long as we understand each in its own context and consider the pitfalls involved.    It must be noted that we are having this discussion because of the very fact that we have stepped so far out of the Constitutional boundaries given to this government that we are operating practically in a post-Constitutional America.  At this point, it is unlikely that any solution will be perfect or without peril.

Two different animals

Article V Convention is a long term fix aimed at making corrections at the federal level.  Nullification is an immediate defense at the state level.  Article V aims to make structural changes or further clarifications to the operations of the federal government and its relation to the states by amending the Constitution.  Nullification aims to make no changes to the current Constitution, but is simply an assertion by the individual sovereign states of the authority they already possess and a declaration of the limitations to federal power already defined by the Constitution.  Article V convention in the current context seeks to fix what is assumed to be broken or lacking in the federal system and is to be used in the rarest of circumstances.  Nullification, as intended by the framers, was to be a part of “republican maintenance,” whereby the central government was to be continually kept in check by its masters, the states.

Both have their merits and their dangers.  Let us take a look some problems that we should keep in mind so we can work TOGETHER to defeat the common enemy…TYRANNY.

Some of the problems with Article V:

WHO are the delegates and what is their motivation?

According to James Madison in Federalist 49, one significant problem with conventions is - WHO will be the delegates?  Madison discusses two options for choosing delegates: either through the Legislators or through popular vote of the people.  In each case he believed there was cause for concern.

In modern terms, when delegates are chosen by the legislators, what we could see are appointments based upon party loyalty rather than upon Constitutional expertise and dedication to Liberty principles.    When the delegates are chosen by popular vote, typical election dynamics could determine the outcome.   Voters would vote based upon party popularity and perhaps even a “lesser of two evils” and the same corrupt politicians would now be “fixing” the very problems they created.  The ultimate result of both options would be, as Madison states, “The same influence which had gained them an election into the legislature, would gain them a seat in the convention… They would consequently be parties to the very question to be decided by them.”

According to Madison, the real difficulty with delegates boils down to “motivation”.   What will be the motivating force behind the delegates and their amendments?  Madison recognized that the only reason we have our current Constitution is that the framers had just come from a bloody revolution that kept the delegates focused upon LIBERTY and that forced them to set aside their party politics and personal motivations:

“We are to recollect that all the existing constitutions were formed in the midst of a danger which repressed the passions most unfriendly to order and concord; of an enthusiastic confidence of the people in their patriotic leaders, which stifled the ordinary diversity of opinions on great national questions; of a universal ardor for new and opposite forms, produced by a universal resentment and indignation against the antient government;” ~ James Madison Federalist 49

Madison seems to be telling us that without some overriding and unifying motivation, the convention would likely degrade into another Republican vs. Democrat drama.  If we cannot get delegates that are properly constitutionally minded rather than driven by political gain and greed, this will never benefit us.

WHEN will it be done?

One big difference between nullification and convention is the time each takes to implement.  Any advocate of Article V must admit that this is a LONG TERM goal and not a quick fix.  To call convention, choose delegates, agree on amendments, an Article V convention could take several years, possibly 5 to 10 years.  Adding to the time frame is the Article V requirement of 3/4 ratification by the States.   That means EVERY AMENDMENT must be agreed upon (debated), individually, by 3/4 of the States to ratify.    During such a time frame, it would be prudent to use nullification puts the brakes on at the state level until corrections (if truly needed) can be made at the federal level.

What will be the scope and impact?

Probably the most debated aspect is the notion of a “runaway convention.”  Some say the ¾ ratification is a check on a runaway convention, that ¾ of the states would never go along with a total rewrite of the Constitution or the addition of harmful amendments.  Of course, ¾ of the states DID ratify the very harmful 16th and 17th amendments.  Tinkering with the foundation is always risky business.  SO at the end of the day it may well come back to the main issue of the motivation, focus and education of the people and their delegates.


First, Nullification is a constitutional solution not because it is enumerated, but because the Constitution is a contract (technically a compact) among the States that created the federal government.  The States are the parties to the Constitutional Contract and the federal government is the PRODUCT of that contract.  Inherent in EVERY contract is the right of the parties to that contract to control the product of the contract.  The States are the representatives of the people in this contract and have a DUTY to maintain the federal government within its constitutional boundaries and thus protecting the rights of the people.  Nullification is that act of the PEOPLE through their States to maintain the federal government within in its “limited and defined” boundaries and should be as regularly carried out as an oil change in your car.  Madison states this principle again in Federalist 49:

“As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived; it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory, to recur to the same original authority, not only whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of government; but also whenever any one of the departments may commit encroachments on the chartered authorities of the others.”

This is not the forum for explanation of Nullification.  If you are unfamiliar with this term or have in the past heard that it is not an option available to the States for a myriad of reasons, please take the time to read the FACTS about nullification before you give in to any one position.  THIS LINK will get you started.

Fear of Nullification

The first problem with nullification is fear and ignorance.  For some, nullification’s association (rightly or wrongly) with the Civil War and slavery (despite the fact that it was used to resist slavery) throws a veil of fear over the entire issue.  Many mistruths and misconceptions regarding this Liberty solution must be overcome in order to even utilize this option.  Retorts such as “the South lost the war,” “SCOTUS says no,” or “it’s the law of the land” are common among those ignorant of the concepts of State sovereignty and nullification. 

Even as nullification happens all around us today with, States legalizing marijuana and same sex marriage; states denying the federal government power to enforce the indefinite detention provisions of NDAA 2012 and Obamacare; local and state governments refusing to enforce federal gun restrictions, some will still say that nullification is an obscure and outdated concept. With more than 100 years of distorted history, overcoming the ignorance and fear surrounding Nullification is no easy task. 

Participation by the States:

Whereas Article V requires 3/4 of the States to ratify any amendment, Nullification can be achieved on a State by State basis.  But again, education of the States in this liberty option is a problem to State participation.  Many state legislators do not understand the true nature of the states’ relationship to the federal government and they understand the states’ right and duty to interposition even less.

Federal Enforcement of Unconstitutional Acts

One more roadblock to nullification is the federal government‘s attempt to bully the States into compliance with unconstitutional acts.  The most obvious attempt at forced compliance will be through the withholding of federal funds.  Any State who intends to maintain their supremacy over the federal government will have to be able to become self-sufficient in the face of federal funding withdrawal.  In an arena where it’s all about the money and in a political system where politician climb the ladder of power by giving and receiving favors this is a significant obstacle.

Runaway Nullification

Sometimes opponents of nullification characterize the concept as “ignoring laws you don’t like.”  The question at issue in nullification is not whether we like the law or not, the question is whether the law is constitutional or not.  A possible danger is that states may wish to “nullify” inherent natural rights, such as those protected in the bill of rights from the abuse of the federal government.  When such tyranny arises on the state level, the citizens must be ready to resist this tyranny as well, or else choose to live as slaves.

The REAL Solution lies within the operation of BOTH methods!

What Article V conventions cannot do to stop tyranny now, nullification can accomplish with near immediate effect.  Where Nullification ends, Article V provides a long term solution to strengthening the restraints on the federal government, if done by the right people for the right reasons in the right way.  If we DO NOT engage in Nullification now, we will never survive as a republic long enough for the Article V Convention to have any hopes.  If we just engage in Nullification and do not follow through with shoring up the established boundaries, I believe we will dissolve into individual sovereign States and the Republic will die.

We will not succeed if we are so caught up in our own causes that we have to defeat everyone else’s.  That is egocentric and immature.  Truth be told, we will not succeed without all the efforts of all the people working together in the defense of Liberty.  We need nullification daily to maintain the Republic, yet if we continue to allow the foundation to erode, we may indeed need a convention to right the ship.   


So let’s approach the defense of Liberty like grown-ups.  Let’s work together instead of trying to punch each other in the eye to elevate ourselves.

I have confidence that when all is said and done, our future will look back and say, “Coming up with a new and better form of government was nearly impossible.   The original Constitution itself was not the problem; it was the ignorance of the people that lived under it.”

LEARN MORE or listen to KrisAnne's Radio Podcasts at www.KrisAnneHall.com

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Comment by Judy Lyford on January 9, 2014 at 12:51am

One suggestion I haven't heard lately is the need to choose leaders.  Too many of us (myself included) lack the education or wisdom to accomplish much. We do have some intelligent people among the conservatives. I'll bet there are several who can lead us to victory. Get together and then tell us what to do next. I will happily follow a good leader.

Comment by Chas Jones on January 8, 2014 at 6:59am


Either we remain a "self-governing" People, in which case we rely upon the Wisdom and Leadership of the few to Persuade and Lead the many, OR, we cease to be a "perpetual and united" Union and must become "something else."

I understand the concern by many that far to few today know and comprehend the Values and Principles upon which our constitutional Republic was built. I share that concern, however, we must own the blame for allowing this to be true. We must educate with Truth, History and Facts, our existing Citizenry and Trust Divine Providence, as our Founders did, and then we must identify and choose those Wise Leaders to help us Restore, Preserve, and where possible, Improve our constitutional Republic.

This is the burden and responsibility ... the Duty of Self-Government. Either we Enlighten the People ... OR ... We Perish into some lesser form of Liberty and greater form of Tyranny.

Let us Reason Together to Ensure the Former and Forestall the Latter!

Comment by Donald Mack Flippin on January 7, 2014 at 8:24pm

Ms Hall,

This is an absolutely fabulous article.  And you stated the matter

clearly.  I had already came to the same conclusions; however, I

I not a writer nor a loud voice of any kind in this wilderness.

I agree 100%, and I do so without hesitation.  Nullification is the

thing that will keep us from the immediate imposition of tyranny

by the Godless Progressive/Marxists, and, I believe a properly con-

ducted Article V Convention will get us back (eventually) to the

founders' original intent (as expressed in the Constitution).  How-

ever, the fruits of a properly conducted Article V Convention are

no going to be available for our enjoyment for some time to come.

Therefore, BOTH must needs be utilized to the maximum (IMHO).

Otherwise, there are but three other options remaining:  The for-

mation of a Conservative 3rd party (which would almost surely take

too long), or . . . a TRUE civil war (which would be a bloody affair,

particularly if one happens to be on the losing side after all of the

smoke has cleared). or . . . the seccession of the individual states

from what has become and/or is becoming this unholy union.

Therefore and under said circumstances, I should think that the

first two options are to be much preferred over the latter, and the

reasons are obvious.

My nickle . . . my 5 cents.

Semper Fi!

Comment by Mangus Colorado on January 7, 2014 at 4:26pm

Let me add one more series of Scholars addressing the subjects of our current options . .


Comment by Mangus Colorado on January 7, 2014 at 4:18pm

I am not a product of my circumstances. 
I am a product of my decisions.

--Stephen Covey

Comment by william e grant on January 7, 2014 at 4:05pm

I THINK IT IS THE ONLY WAY BACK (( I THINK IT IS A TAD BETTER THAN COMMUNIST WORLD ORDER )) LET'S GIVE IT A SHOOT WHO KNOWS ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Comment by Steve Merkel on January 7, 2014 at 2:37pm

As KrisAnne pointed out, the federal government is a creation of the states, through the Constitution. The Constitution has authority over the federal government, not the other way round. In Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), Chief Justice Taney issued the majority opinion that slaves were not persons, but property. By so doing he re-wrote the clear words of the Constitution which always referred to slaves as "persons." The Supreme Court thus became a usurper by arrogating unto itself power and authority over its creator. And the Court has been doing so ever since.

Comment by Mangus Colorado on January 7, 2014 at 2:05pm

Here is a short post that will answer many of the posted thoughts . .


The State Legislatures of 34 or 38 control the design and how the Article V process will be designed. The Congress serves in only a clerical function SHALL CALL . . . If 38 States send a identical bill repealing the 14th, 16th and 17th articles of Amendment having been voted in the majority of the State Legislatures - what are the options of the Congress, the Courts, the Executive?

Simple, short, safe, sure and speedy.


Comment by John Henry Botkin on January 7, 2014 at 2:01pm

While there is bound to be turmoil engendered by a national response to states' nullification of unconstitutional practices by the federal government, the debate that would accompany such turmoil should provide a stage for openly exploring the Constitution that creates our nation.  Indeed, those who advocate for standardized limitations on freedom mandated by the current Washington establishment will be confronted by a plethora of individual state practices that are bound to outrage them.  Indeed, one state enacting laws consistent with its right to enjoy Federal defense of its Article IV sec. 4 Constitutional rights might very well run afoul of the visions of sectionally prevailing political persuasions.  America once suffered an internal bloodletting centered on this phenomenon and our Constitution was altered by Amendment 14 in a way designed to prevent states straying from a narrow understanding of their rights to a Republican government.  We are reaping the results of that Radical Republican overreach today. 

Can Americans be persuaded by an examination of our history to discard the paradigm with which they have been conditioned by the advocates of all-powerful central government?  Considering the brevity of the average current attention span and modernity's discarded respect for the weight of empirical evidence, that seems unlikely.  Our Constitution was never intended to impose an alien paradigm upon the citizenry.  Rather it was designed to provide a framework of limitations on the enemies of self determination.  Its framers understood that free men within their communities possess certain common characteristics that mark them as free.  The Bill of Rights presents a list of those characteristics.  That infringements on the rights and characteristics go unchallenged today would seem to indicate that the old paradigm no longer applies and the new one daily gains strength within the national consciousness.  Christian principles derived from Biblical study and practice once provided the paradigm by which "unalienable rights" were understood.  Even dissenters against Biblical authority were so deeply founded in the nearly two thousand year prevailing paradigm upon which post-Roman civilization rested that they found it difficult to conceive notions alien to it. 

Not so these days.  We are so rooted in the godless paradigm of materialism that the old notions that the duality of freedom of will and individual responsibility engendered hardly enter into consideration by voices speaking in the public square.  Are such people as we have become capable of wisely amending a Constitution in a way that cures the warped understanding of the entire document?  It does not seem likely.  Might a single state find a way to govern itself in a way that other states would want to follow?  Maybe.  But will a federal governing culture that has so perfected its tyrannical control of even the way a plurality of the citizenry work, live, love, marry, and think relinquish some of that power in deference to an individual state's application of a "living constitution"?  Doesn't seem likely.  Mr. Lincoln and his party did not.  I would not expect any governing institution existing today to do so.

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

It remains to be seen if the materialistic paradigm possesses the strength to shape human consciousness to the state required by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human rights.  According to that document, all rights are defined and protected by the decrees of the political animal.   Articles 29 and 30 sew it up.

Article 29.
  1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
  2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
  3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 30.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Comment by Gerald V. Todd on January 7, 2014 at 1:53pm

KrisAnne - I can't even get you name straight. Please accept a free pdf copy of my book "Guide 25 - 25 Constitutional Vakues for Politicians and the People Who Vote for Them."

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