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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Excerpts from American Enterprise Institute’s Panel Discussion on Article V with Panelist Antonin Scalia

Excerpts from American Enterprise Institute’s Panel Discussion on Article V with Panelist Antonin Scalia

May 23, 1979 
p. 5
MR. DALY: All right. Professor Scalia, Richard Rovere in the New Yorker, suggested that the convention method of amendment might reinstate segregation and even slavery, throw out much or all of the Bill of Rights, eliminate the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause, reverse any Supreme Court decision the members didn't like, and perhaps for good measure, eliminate the Supreme Court, itself. [Laughter.] Now, what would you anticipate from an unlimited convention?
ANTONIN SCALIA, professor of law, University of Chicago: I suppose it might even pass a bill of attainder to hang Richard Rovere. [Laughter.] All those things are possible, I suppose, just as it is possible that the Congress tomorrow might pass a law abolishing social security as of the next day, or eliminating Christmas. Such things are possible, remotely possible. I have no fear that such extreme proposals would come out of a constitutional convention. Surely, whether that risk is sufficient to cause anyone to be opposed to a constitutional convention depends on how high we think the risk is and how necessary we think the convention is. If we thought the Congress were not necessary for any other purpose, the risk that it might abolish social security would probably be enough to tell its members to go home. So, it really comes down to whether we think a constitutional convention is necessary. I think it is necessary for some purposes, and I am willing to accept what seems to me a minimal risk of intemperate action.The founders inserted this alternative method of obtaining constitutional amendments because they knew the Congress would be unwilling to give attention to many issues the people are concerned with, particularly those involving restrictions on the federal government's own power. The founders foresaw that and they provided the convention as a remedy. If the only way to get that convention is to take this minimal risk, then it is a reasonable one.

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