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Brake, D.C. — Accelerate, States

 

Toward our Article V Convention.


“R

epublicans will hold 31 of the country's 50 governorships next year [and also up to] 69 of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers — more than at any point in history." This further bodes well for the first-ever convening of a convention of states for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

If all thirty Republican-controlled legislatures and Nebraska's, along with just three of the remaining states' — eight of which have a Republican-controlled house or senate — send an application for it to Congress, the Congress must call that convention. Then, as Alexander Hamilton says in Federalist Paper 85, "We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority."

Their application would provide the time and place of convening the convention for proposing amendments as well as interim rules of its proceedings, such as—

The convention meet for that purpose at the place in which the most numerous branch of the state legislature first making such application is sitting, on the one hundred and twentieth day (Sundays excepted) after application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States has been made, and be composed of delegates appointed by the several States, with each State appointing, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, at least one delegate (but in no event more than five), provided no Senator or Representative in Congress, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, be appointed a delegate;

All votes in the convention be taken by States, the delegation from each State having one vote, with a quorum to do business consisting of a delegate or delegates from a majority of the States, and a majority of all the States being necessary to an agreement, approval, or adoption of the convention on any question, order, or resolution;

The convention choose its president and other officers, determine the rules of its proceedings, punish delegates for disorderly behavior, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the States expel a delegate, and keep a journal of its proceedings and publish the same after it adjourns sine die; and

The articles approved by the convention be proposed as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.

It would resolve, also, that—

This application constitutes a continuing application in accordance with Article V of the United States Constitution until at least two-thirds of the legislatures of the several States have made application to the Congress of the United State to call a Convention for the specific and exclusive purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States reading substantially as those contained in this resolution;

If Congress proposes, within 90 days after the legislatures of two-thirds of the States have made that application, all the amendments to the Constitution of the United States identical with those contained in this resolution, then this application shall no longer be of any force or effect; and

This application be deemed null and void, rescinded, canceled, and of no effect in the event that a convention for proposing amendments includes purposes other than providing for amendments to the Constitution of the United States reading substantially as those contained in this resolution.

Finally, every state legislature making this application would request each of the others make it too, and would transmit certified copies of it to them and to both houses of Congress and the U.S. representatives and senators from that state.

After the first legislature sends this application to Congress, the others need send only their concurrence.

As it so happens, Georgia's legislature made an application last March for an Article V convention for proposing amendments that "impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress." Alaska's then Florida's followed suit a month later using the same language. The strategy is particular subjects rather than particular amendments; and the amendments suggested here for that convention each falls within one of those subjects.

When this application is made by the legislatures of 31 more states, we'll be closer than we've ever been in living memory to "erecting barriers against the encroachments of the national authority."



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