Convention of States: A Solution to Combat The Growing Federal Government

“We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.” –Alexander Hamilton

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A recent Gallup Poll found that only 28 percent of Americans approve of how the nation is being governed.

“Americans’ frustration with government is focused on Washington, D.C. This is seen in trust and approval ratings they give to the executive and legislative branches — especially Congress. U.S. adults maintain higher levels of trust in the judicial branch as well as state and local government,” stated the Gallup analysis.

It is little wonder so few people have faith in their federal government. It has run up a debt of $20 trillion (a trillion is a million millions), Congress has delegated much of its law-making authority to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, Congressional districts are gerrymandered and incumbents spend public money building support so that they are almost guaranteed to hold office for as long as they like, and the Supreme Court over the last century has eliminated most authority of what were once called “sovereign” states.

Many Americans believe things get worse no matter who they elect to office. Presidents, judges and members of Congress, be they Democrat or Republican, are hardly likely to curb their own power.

Fortunately, there is a solution. The wise men who created this country foresaw the possibility of the federal government accreting such power to itself that it became oppressive. So they wrote an important “check and balance” into Article V of the Constitution.

Article V reads: “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this 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…”

A super-majority of state legislatures, acting in concert, can amend the Constitution to return power to the states and the people. They could, for example, forbid the federal government from mandating state action without providing funds for it, limit the number of terms members of Congress may serve, require the federal government to balance its budget, make federal judges civil service appointees instead of appointments through the political process, or reinstate limits on federal power originally expected through the 10th Amendment.

“If young conservatives want to take back our country, they will join me in supporting the Convention of States Project,” said Charlie Kirk, founder and CEO of Turning Point USA, the largest conservative campus movement in the country. “A convention of states is the only constitutional way to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and anyone who wants to give power back to the people will support this growing movement.”

“I absolutely support the Convention of States Project, designed for fulfilling the Constitutional methodologies for protecting our rights,” said Ben Shapiro, editor of the Daily Wire and popular campus speaker. “Article V exists so that the people have the final say, not the federal government. If you believe the people should decide instead of politicians in Washington, D.C. then you should support the Convention of States Project.”

Endorsers of the Convention of States include Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Dr. Ben Carson, Senators Marco Rubio and Ron Johnson, former U.S. Senators Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint, U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan, Governor Greg Abbott, Sheriff David Clarke, former governors Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Bobby Jindal, former U.S. Representative Col. Allen West, and economist Thomas Sowell.

Legislators in 46 states have proposed resolutions that would call for a convention to consider amendments that will limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, impose fiscal restraints, and set term limits for federal officials. The convention would be limited to these areas. For example, an amendment to require a balanced federal budget would fall within the parameters set by these resolutions, but repeal of the right to keep and bear arms would not, as that would increase, not decrease, the power of the government.

If this resolution passes through 34 state legislatures (governors do not have to approve it), then the Constitution requires Congress to set the time and location for the convention of states. Whatever proposed amendments emerge from the convention would be submitted to state legislatures, with ratification by 38 states required for the amendment to take effect.

That word “proposed” is important. The convention of states will have no authority to make changes to the Constitution, only to propose changes that must be ratified by 38 states. Only 13 states are needed to prevent an amendment from taking effect.

Opponents fear a “runaway convention” could rewrite the entire Constitution and perhaps repeal basic protections such as the Bill of Rights. Suppose a delegate proposed repeal of the 2nd Amendment:

  1. Such a proposal would be ruled out of order, as it would deviate from the established purpose of the convention
  2. If it did reach the convention floor, the proposal would need support from 26 state delegations to pass.
  3. If proposed by the convention, a measure outside the convention’s stated purpose would certainly be challenged in court.
  4. If somehow it survived all this, 38 states would have to ratify the proposal for it to be adopted.

The chance of something really radical running such a gauntlet seems too slight to be considered.

To date, the resolution to call a convention to consider amendments to limit the federal government has been approved in 12 states: Alaska, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. In nine other states, it has passed through one house of the legislature. The legislative season of 2018 is expected to see many other states bringing this resolution forward for votes.

Further information about a convention of states is available at https://www.conventionofstates.com/