If you love constitutional legal scholarship, you will not want to miss this: This Thursday, at 7:00 p.m., at the Colgan Theater on the Manassas campus of Northern Virginia Community College, conservative constitutionalists Delegate Bob Marshall and Patrick Henry College President Mike Farris will debate Article V of the U.S. Constitution. If that's not enough, former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will moderate the debate. Article V of the U.S. Constitution prescribes two methods for amending the constitution. Only one has ever been used — a proposed amendment passed by Congress and ratified by the states, and that hasn't been used in decades. Some believe that with the gridlock in Congress and the increasingly polarized political and ideological strains of the country, that proposed amendments will never escape Congress, even for the most necessary reforms, such as a requirement for a balanced federal budget.

The other method allows for the states to convene a convention to adopt an amendment . . . or amendments. That's where the controversy begins and only accelerates. There may be nothing more divisive among conservatives than this question because some believe, like Delegate Marshall, that if a convention is convened, those delegates, once locked into a room, could not only vote to adopt a specific amendment, but also add and delete to the constitution as they please. Mr. Farris and others believe that it is constitutionally legal to bind the delegates to one specific topic, and that the solvency of the United States (and perhaps another issue or two) demands this approach.

Delegate Marshall describes the event this way:

Mike Farris and I will debate whether or not we should hold a national convention (with delegates from every state), under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, to propose amendments that will make changes to our United States Constitution.

Both of us have researched this issue in depth and have reached opposite conclusions. I will argue that states should not petition Congress to call such a Convention for the purpose of amending (changing) the Constitution. Mike Farris will argue that we should.

Marshall-Farris

Battle of conservative heavyweights: Marshall vs. Farris with referee Cuccinelli!

For the last several years, resolutions have been proposed in the General Assembly for Virginia to add its name to the list of states that have called for an Article V convention. Other than the exhilaration of the intellectual exercise and ramped up lobbying efforts of both sides, they have made no splash, much less passed. But one can never predict the event that will spark a turning point in a movement.

With these two profound and intellectual men debating, and the former attorney general moderating, this will be an enlightening event, and a welcome one given the shrillness of so many issues in our modern political and philosophical discourse. The event, which include questions from the audience, is sponsored by the Manassas Tea Party, is open to the public. "Free will donations" will be accepted to cover the  costs. Colgan Theater is located at 6901 Sudley Road in Manassas.