Gov. Mike Leavitt has been instrumental in organizing and pushing a Conference of the States to get the federal government to recognize the rights and abilities of the individual states. This is certainly needed, and he is to be encouraged in his efforts.
He was quoted as saying in a memo in May last year that if Congress did not respond to the requests of the COS, then a Constitutional Convention (popularly called a con-con) might be needed. This in no way means that the COS itself would be used as a con-con.Article V of the Constitution provides for Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution, or for Congress to call for a con-con if two-thirds of the state legislatures petition Congress to do so.
There are many, however, who want to use the COS for a con-con. The COS could not do so because Congress has not been petitioned and has not called for a con-con. A petition from the COS would not suffice.
There is much fear of a con-con, many thinking that it would run wild and replace our Constitution with something else - some even calling for a parliamentary system like England's. Of course it could not because that would require three-fourths of the state legislatures to agree.
However there are some changes that would be beneficial. For one thing, why should the approval of Congress be required for a con-con if the states require it? But this change alone would not justify a con-con. The Supreme Court and lower courts should be prohibited from legislating from the bench. The courts should be restricted to deciding what is and what is not the law, and what is and what is not constitutional - and they should be required to base their decision on what the framers wrote, not the current social feeling of the judges about what the law should be. Making the law is the job of the Congress, not the courts.
It would be appropriate for Leavitt to eliminate what seems to be much secrecy and make well-publicized statements on the purpose of the COS - which he will, of course, say he has already done. If he has, it would be news to many journalists writing on the subject.
Also, he should clarify and publicize the fact that the COS would not - could not - be used as a con-con. If a con-con is really needed, those interested should have that proposal passed by the states desiring it.
Robert W. English
Salt Lake City