The federal government is out of control, operating far beyond the scope of its specific, enumerated powers, and electing the “right people” has proven ineffective to combat this overreach. The problem is not a partisan one. The problem is structural, and it demands a structural solution.
The federal abuse we face is the result of constitutional interpretations that capitalize on ambiguities in the wording of some phrases (i.e., the General Welfare Clause). If we correct these ambiguities by clarifying the Founding Fathers’ original intentions regarding the limitations of federal power, we can restore the federal government to its proper, limited place.
The Convention of States resolution calls for an Article V Convention limited to drafting and 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.” If 34 states pass this application, it will trigger an amendment-proposing convention exclusively on these topics.
The text of Article V makes it clear that a convention only has power to propose amendments. Even if the state legislatures allowed their delegates to the convention to go rogue and even if those delegates managed to pass some outlandish amendments by a majority vote of the states in attendance, those potential amendments remain mere proposals until ratified by three-fourths of the states. This incredibly high bar was put in place by our Founders to ensure that no radical amendments could ever become part of our Constitution.
The History of Article V:
The Founders were no strangers to conventions. During the century leading up to the adoption of the Constitution they held at least 32 multi-state conventions, 11 of which took place in the decade between 1776 and 1786. These conventions adhered to an incredibly uniform set of customs to govern their proceedings: the states appointed and instructed their delegates, each state had one vote regardless of its size or how many delegates it appointed, and the convention itself, subject always to the instructions issued by the states, could appoint its own officers and committees and take other steps necessary to facilitate the purposes for which it was called.
This long history of convention practice was exactly what the Founders had in mind when they drafted the convention provision in Article V. Interestingly, at the Constitutional Convention early discussion of the amendment process revolved around the power of the states to propose amendments. Congress’s ability to propose amendments did not enter the discussion until much later. Late in the Convention, a draft circulated by the committee of style flipped this on its head and gave Congress exclusive authority to propose amendments. Sharp-eyed Virginian George Mason noted the change and registered his staunch objection: if Congress were the only body that could propose amendments, there would never be any amendments to check the power of Congress. After a brief discussion, the entire convention voted unanimously to give the states the power to propose amendments through a convention and the current text of Article V was born.
No Political Affiliation:
The Convention of States is not a partisan effort. Whether one favors conservative or liberal public policies, surely we can agree that the best public policy decisions are those made closest to home. Through a Convention of States, we can restore to the states the power that is rightfully theirs under the Constitution. We want the vast majority of laws governing our state to be made in our state and local governments—not in Washington, D.C.