From American Enterprise Institute’s Panel Discussion on Article V with Panelist Antonin Scalia
May 23, 1979
MR. JOHN DALY: All right. Professor Scalia, Richard Rovere in the New Yorker, suggested that the convention method of amendment might;
I listed first among the things that I would like to have considered the structural issues at the federal level. I do not have a lack of trust in the American people. I am the one here who is least terrified of a convention. We have come a long way. We have gotten over many problems. But the fact remains that a widespread and deep feeling of powerlessness in the country is apparent with respect to many issues, not just the budget issue. The people do not feel that their wishes are observed. They are heard but they are not heeded, particularly at the federal level. The Congress has come up with a lot of palliatives---the legislative veto, for example-which do not solve the problem at all . Part of the problem as I have noted is simply that the Congress has become professionalized; its members have a greater interest than ever before in remaining in office; and it is served by a bureaucracy and is much more subject to the power of individualized pressure groups than to the unorganized feelings of the majority of the citizens. This and other factors have created a real feeling of disenfranchisement that I think has a proper basis. The one remedy specifically provided for in the Constitution is the amendment process that bypasses the Congress. I would like to see that amendment process used just once. I do not much care what it is used for the first time, but using it once will exert an enormous influence on both the Congress and the Supreme Court. It will establish the parameters of what can be done and how, and after that the Congress and the Court will behave much better. …
May I rehabilitate myself? Maybe reach down a hand to pull Paul Bator back up on the bandwagon? When I say I do not much care what it is about, I mean that among various respectable issues for a constitutional convention, I am relatively neutral as to which goes first. The process should be used for some significant issue that concerns the American people, but which issue is chosen is relatively unimportant. I would not want a convention for some silly purpose, of course. But I think there are many serious purposes around, many matters that profoundly concern the American people and about which they do not now have a voice. I really want to see the process used responsibly on a serious issue so that the shibboleth-the Richard Rovere alarm about the end of the world--can be put to rest and we can learn how to use the process responsibly in the future.
Antonin Scalia, 1979
The full transcript of the 1979 AEI forum is available, here.
Opinion of the Editor
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David Van Risseghem is the Director of Sooner Politics.org. The resource is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform. This endeavor seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...